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SUPERMASSIVE LAUNCH: "THE DARK PICTURES ANTHOLOGY: MAN OF MEDAN"

Written by Ryan Holloway

Horror DNA was lucky enough to be invited to a launch event for the much anticipated horror game from Supermassive – Man of Medan – the first part of "The Dark Pictures Anthology".

We were welcomed aboard the HMS Wellington in London and were to become among the first in the world to get our hands on the game and its horrific wonders. Why a ship? Well, much of the game takes place onboard a ghost ship of sorts, so it perfectly set the scene for what was to come. Plus there was coffee, so it was already a great morning.

Sea legs at the ready we made our way into the belly of the ship to play through over an hour of the game tipped to be the best multiplayer of the year, if not the scariest.

Before we dive into the game itself, a little about what makes it so unique, especially to us horror fans.

Man of Medan is the first of a five part anthology series that uses more branching than even Until Dawn, which basically means the story can be, and is, dictated by your actions in the game in a way not seen before.

There are around five hours of single play, and what makes Medan an exciting prospect for gamers, is that even though you can play through on your own, you can in fact also choose to play in movie mode where you and up to five friends can play and pass the controller to each other depending on which character is on screen.

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The Game:

At the launch event we got to play in online two-player mode. You don’t necessarily have to have any dialogue with the person you’re playing with, which on this play-through just added to the creepiness, "What is he thinking?", but it’s fascinating to watch the characters on screen pause to weigh up their options. This is where Man of Medan works best, you and your online partner control the actions and reactions of certain characters in the game, what to say in a conversation, or how to respond in certain situations, whether it be dialogue or action based. You also know when the other player is making a decision via on-screen text, which makes for compelling viewing as you are left to wonder what they are going to do, or say.

Every decision you make informs the character's personality and fate, which means that once you’ve played the game all the way through, you can go back and make totally different decisions and see the various directions that the game can go in, and if you partner up with someone new each time, the game will rarely repeat itself.

It’s fascinating and instantly addictive.

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The set up…

The prologue takes place during the Second World War and you play as an American soldier who gets drunk with a buddy on shore leave. During these off-ship shenanigans, we see some crates being loaded into the cargo area of a ship. When lightening strikes them during a storm, some goo or ectoplasm spews out, thus setting the scene.

Later, you and your hungover buddy wake up in the brig and now have to explore the ship, as the crew all seem to have vanished. It’s all quite early Resident Evil, which is a good thing, as you explore the ship looking for clues to what has happened. Foreboding music and some sharp sound effects make this a thrilling experience and as this sequence comes to an end (no spoilers), you feel a little bit shaken…but thirsty for more.

More we did indeed receive, as we then get to play through another part of the game involving a group of friends who hire a boat to go on a mini-adventure together.

With a grumpy daptain and young adults who can be as annoying as you want to make them, this second part feels every bit like a cliché horror film. This isn’t an insult because as you are literally taking part in the adventure and dictating how things go down, it brings it to life in a very visceral and unexpected way. If you are a huge horror fan more than used to these storylines, you can choose to make the characters act as you’d expect or to go against type just for a laugh. This reviewer was responsible for putting the relationship of a couple on the boat onto choppy water…literally.

As part of this narrative we also get to take a couple of the characters diving into the ocean and discover a World War II bomber. The animation is particularly good here and, not to sound like a press release, you really do feel like you’re there; that’s the power of this game.

As the game came to an end, I felt like I’d just been ripped out of The Matrix. I wasn’t ready!

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Click images to enlarge.

If these 90 minutes were anything to go by, this game is sure to be another huge hit for Supermassive. The animation and motion capture are superb and should win the company a few gongs when the awards season comes around.

There really is nothing not to love about this game, you get to live in a horror film environment for a few hours and although this is nothing new to the world of gaming, it is at least a unique and fresh experience as you not only create personality traits for these characters but there is a strange satisfaction in knowing that someone else is also making decisions that could change the course of the game.

Set sail with Man of Medan, you won’t regret it.

Man of Medan comes to XBox One, PS4 and PC on 30th August 2019. 

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About The Author
Ryan Holloway
Staff Reviewer
As far back as he can remember Ryan has always had an obsession with films, and horror in particular. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' and ‘Alien’ were the first films that really stuck in the psyche and rather than scarring his tiny mind and running up a huge therapy bill, those films created a fascination with the dark side of life and art. Brought up by Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers (not literally), horror will always fascinate him no matter how absurd, dark, twisted, barmy or just plain wrong. Horror DNA gives him the opportunity, and excuse, to legitimise his macabre tastes and watch whatever strangeness comes his way.
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