Video Game Review: Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan

Supermassive Games created one of the greatest horror games of all time, Until Dawn. The PS4 exclusive’s ideas went on to the first entry of their anthology series, Man of Medan, which takes everything from the 2015 hit and delivers it in a more condensed version. While plenty of ideas transfer over well, this is not quite the same quality I had hoped for, but it is a small treat that is worth every second.

A group of friends rents out a boat to enjoy a weekend of diving and drinking beer. After a run-in with some mysterious men, they come back at night to take the whole group captive. Things turn for the worse as another sinister threat approaches that put the hostages and their captors in danger. However, while it tries to explain these events, a lot of details get tossed to the side for some small and larger holes in the plot.

The voice cast is stellar while the dialogue is a hit or a miss. Shawn Ashmore (The Following, Quantum Break) as Conrad, Arielle Palik (Deus Ex: Mankind Divided) as Conrad’s sister Julia, Chris Sandiford (Jack Ryan) as Brad, Kareem Tristan Alleyne (Watch Dogs 2) as Julia’s significant other and Brad’s older brother Alex, and Ayisha Issa (Polar, Far Cry Primal) as Fliss, the boat driver who takes the group on their vacation. Each character has a memorable personality from Conrad’s laidback attitude to Brad being the smart, good-hearted younger brother to Alex. I cared for everyone, except Fliss who did not bring much to the group dynamic.

Tieing in each part of Dark Pictures Anthology comes from the Curator (Pip Torrens from Preacher, The Danish Girl, and Star Wars Episode VII). He brings up a story in which you are the one to finish writing by your choices during gameplay. It is a great idea to set up every title with this eccentric host.

Unlike Until Dawn, the option to play with one other person is available. Playing alone or passing along to other people is another way to play. Playing alone or with someone else goes either way of having plenty of surprises. Playing with my friend allowed for incredible moments that were equally hilarious and scary.

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When having another person, the character they control experiences things differently. If my friend was in another room, I had him telling me what was happening as I had something else occurring on my side. It creates an eerier atmosphere and leaves me wanting to play more to see what he got to play.

Selecting dialogue or actions effects everything. Not as many drastic changes as Supermassive’s windigo invasion, but the things I did experience had weight to hit me in ways I did not expect. Not all outcomes work, especially when it comes to the endings which can not fit with the narrative or feel underwhelming.

Walking around is brutal as camera changes and tight areas make it frustrating to navigate. At times I had no idea which key to hit to go in the right direction or trying to not get stuck in a part of the environment.

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Finding pictures give a premonition to what is happening, similar to totem poles in Until Dawn. Some of those collectibles that gave insight to possible scenarios were more helpful than Man of Medan. Seconds long visions do not provide much information on events that can occur, making it fairly useless.

Quick time events were expected due to its predecessor. It does not drown out other gameplay mechanics and usually was not difficult to hit the right keys. Since I felt less in danger, I did not have any issues trying to survive in my playthrough, for the most part.

Realistic animations and graphics look superb. The constant darkness does not wash away the beauty here, which makes the horror that much more traumatic.

Technical problems popped up only a few times. My friend’s game disconnected once, I had a connection error, and my buddy’s game froze at one point. Other than that, things went fairly smoothly, even on the highest settings on our PCs.

Man of Medan has plenty of great ideas, but not everything is appropriately executed. Its mechanics from Until Dawn are not as satisfying. For $30 and a coop experience in a horror game, it is still worth the money, I just hope next year’s Little Hope can nail the premise better to put Dark Pictures Anthology on the right track.

Score: 7/10

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