“Death is going to come,” is a line fed to you pretty early into Supermassive Games and Bandai Namco Entertainment’s enthralling interactive horror title The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan. The game, the first of several planned under the title of The Dark Pictures, is a tale of terror at the high seas loosely inspired by the tale of a supposed real-life ghost ship named the SS Ourang Medan. If you’re familiar with the story of the doomed ship, then the adventure you’ll set out upon will surely make a lot more sense.
The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan is exciting, frustrating, wildly replayable, and also significantly buggy.
Vacation of Death
You are given god-like powers to control over five twenty-somethings on a treasure dive in the South Pacific Ocean. At first, it seems like your party is built up of the typical horror characters. There’s Alex, a self-assured jock. Julia is a rich girl ready to ride or die with Alex. Conrad, Julia’s brother, would much instead be drinking and flaunting his wealth than anything else. Speaking of brothers and doing anything else, there’s Brad, who is Alex’s little brother. He would much rather be studying or working and was even reluctant to come on the trip in the first place. Finally, you have captain Fliss, a seemingly under-prepared girl who chose to take the wrong charter.
Each member of the team comes with a constantly changing plethora of traits impacted by the decisions that you are forced to make on the fly. The traits that you have will influence the way that your characters work together or don’t. At one point in my playthrough, I missed a few opportunities to advance the story. This inability to progress was all because the traits I had for Alex and Fliss had the two at each other’s necks.
After Conrad angers a group of pirates, the gang finds themselves, and their captors washed onto a US Army ghost ship that went missing in 1947. You have to be smart and compassionate if you hope to survive the supernatural horrors on board as well as the pirates. Oh, and you’re also going to have to be good at quick time events (QTE).
Throughout the nearly six-hour journey, you’ll stop briefly to hear from The Curator, a sort of Sherlock-Holmes-meets-the-Crypt-Keeper. He’ll summarize the story, and comment positively or negatively about how you’re performing. In my case, his comments were overwhelmingly negative. He seemed to find joy in remarking as to if I felt any remorse for my lost party members or any need to protect those still alive. I think that this is an elegant touch that both gives you a rest and a desire to work harder at keeping your crew from the jaws of death.
- Bang for your buck
- Replay value
- Keeps you on your feet, not your phone
- Accessibility sucked at time of review
- Lots of FPS drops and freezing