Review: The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (50.90 GB)
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc.
Developer: SUPERMASSIVE GAMES
Original MSRP: $29.99 (US), £24.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 16
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Supermassive Games gave us the best horror game of this generation, Until Dawn, with a branching storyline where the player decides what actions are taken in the hope of saving the characters from a gruesome death. I never did manage to save them all in that excellent game but might succeed in this new game from that same developer.

I have been asked by the publisher to not mention or show anything from the second half. I cannot abide spoilers and will go one better by refraining from mentioning any of the story, apart from this tiny morsel:

The Dark Pictures Anthology – a series of standalone horror games begins with Man of Medan, which starts off on a dive boat in the South Pacific. Five people, some alcohol, and a calm sea. What could go wrong? Can I make the right decisions and react quick enough to keep everyone alive?

Gameplay:
Man of Medan has got a few glitches and bugs, which could and probably will, get snuffed out in a day-one patch or soon after. Thankfully, there were only two on-screen anomalies that appeared during the early part of the game and didn’t ruin the experience. I didn’t see them the second time around either, so you folks might be lucky too.

The wife and I did notice a few, very slight, pauses during a few cut-scenes, probably when the game was queuing up the relevant narrative path. Yes, there are several ways this game can play out based on the decisions made, which is usually preceded with me yelling at the wife asking what I should do.

The controls are easy to grasp and work well in adding to the tension, although on a couple of occasions I swear I pressed the correct button within the strict time frame. For the players who don’t like the urgency of the quick-time and button-mashing events, they can be tweaked in the Accessibility menu.

I admittedly missed a few prompts (I must be getting old) and so my character stumbled or faltered in some way but I still managed to make it through the game without losing a character. Some of the choices I made weren’t just gut instinct, but based upon the clues I had found along the way and more importantly when the wife and I had a eureka moment and figured it all out.

It took about six hours to complete but the compulsion to play through it again was immense. A few key moments during the first playthrough made me desperate to play through it again to see how different the game would be. We were surprised to find some things which we thought inconsequential to culminate into a pivotal moment.

I eagerly look forward to the Curator’s Cut that opens up previously unavailable scenes with different playable characters. According to the game’s website, it’ll be available for free around the end of November, 2019. And understandably, in order to play the Curator’s Cut, you first need to complete the main story once.

Visuals:
Supermassive Games are great at giving us believable characters in both their movement and looks. Man of Medan is their finest work to date and I instantly recognized some of the cast, especially Shawn Ashmore.

The detail in the faces not only helps to deliver convincing performances but also propels the excellent script from the wonderful minds of Graham Reznick and Larry Fessenden. Yes, the same people that penned the excellent Until Dawn.

Throughout the game, I was blown away by the graphics. It isn’t just the attention to detail or perfectly timed camera moves, but the way the game choreographs the players fear levels so well with the lighting and scale of the scenes.

Oh, I almost forgot, there was one moment where the game seemed to skip or played the wrong cutscene. It was momentarily jarring but soon forgotten amongst the ensuing action.

Audio:
Jason Graves returns to compose another great soundtrack. The opening and closing credits of Man of Medan features two excellent song choices that feel like the build-up and wind-down of a rollercoaster. The former gets my heart pumping and the latter brings it back to normality. In between those the tense and suspenseful sounds and sudden outbursts kept us on our toes and jumping in fright.

I cannot fault the voice work and instantly recognized many actors including Pip Torrens and Ayisha Issa. I had to pop into the Settings and adjust a few of the volume sliders as some of the dialogue was a touch on the low side.

Online/Multiplayer:
There is a way my wife can play but refused as her nerves wouldn’t take it. On the second playthrough, I managed to talk her into playing the first part in the Movie Night mode, which allows for two to five people to play by passing the controller whenever it’s their turn. All of the players pick the characters they will take charge of, it could be one or a few, just so long as all characters are assigned.

At the end of each part, the game lets players know how well, or in my case, badly, they are doing. Although, in my defense, I was mean to my character just to see what would happen. The mode is well thought out and definitely worth considering on game night.

Man of Medan also features an online co-op multiplayer mode called Shared Story. Sadly, I did not get a chance to play with anyone but I’m sure when the game is released plenty of my friends will be available.

Conclusion:
After a total of six amazing hours (played in two sittings, because our nerves needed a break) we both sat back and marveled at the brilliance we had witnessed. Everything worked so well together, from the masterful music and sounds to the eerily realistic characters and their surroundings. Yes, Man of Medan has a few bugs but nothing that spoiled what can only be described as a wonderfully terrifying and intriguing experience.

And, for the people who don’t generally enjoy this genre, I strongly urge you to give it a shot, even if you play it in the Movie Night mode with a group of friends, that helps to turn the screams of fear into adrenaline-fueled laughter.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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