The intrigue for the new generation graphic adventures and for the interactive films where we “choose the destiny” of protagonists and history has grown more and more, as if to make this videogame genre live a second youth. Arm in arm with Telltale and Quantic Dream, for clearly different reasons, among the proponents of this fortune there are also the boys of Supermassive Games, strengthened by the success of the Until Dawn brand and other titles of the same mold. The new work of the team and published by Bandai Namco, part of an anthological series of short adventures (of about 5 hours for a run, if we refer to this specifically): it is Man of Medan, precisely the first of the games that make up the series The Dark Pictures Anthology. At the time of writing the review, the title does not yet have the corrective day one patch, absolutely essential to solve some significant technical inconveniences. Until that time, therefore, we will refrain from giving a definitive judgment to the game and will assign it a conditional evaluation that can change or be confirmed. Patch or not, let's go and test the great qualities together and get to know the delicious novelties proposed.
“There is no need to fear death. After all, it is inescapable "
This is not a quote from us to Thanos, but one of the phrases with which we are greeted within the main plot of the game. To pronounce them is "The Curator", a sort of librarian guardian of stories, with whom we will collaborate to write ourselves the history and destiny of the five young boys, the unfortunate protagonists of this story. His presence resembles that of the psychologist Hill within Until Dawn, with his role very similar, but this time not actively present within the plot. In fact, he is inside his archive e will comment at the end of each act our progress, perhaps allowing ourselves, if we wanted, to give us some little clue that can direct us towards "the most strongly desired implications".
However, his role may not be limited to this simple title: according to what can be seen in the game's opening theme (accompanied by the suggestive notes of the Khemmis and their "A Conversation With Death"), the Curator of stories is accompanied by images clearly inspired by films that have become horror classics, such as The Ring or Silent Hill, but above all, being present in an archive and being the title part of an anthology, it does not seem improbable that the Curator will be our guide for all the titles that will go to compose the series of Dark Pictures Anthology. This will also be based - just as in the case of Man of Medan - on real myths and legends, with an always new cast of actors to accompany us.
The ghost ship
The game takes inspiration from the legend of the Ourang Medan, a ship dating back to the Second World War to which incredible theories have been associated. This story was chosen as the starting point for the anthology because, as Tom Heaton (Game Director of this title) illustrates, the ship seemed to the team the ideal setting where a group of friends could "remain isolated and unable to easily escape from terror ”. Once you've taken control of the characters after the prologue - alas enough clarifier - we will find ourselves in the waters of the South Pacific, where five boys are preparing to take a sea excursion on a diving boat called the Duke of Milan. however, as it usually happens in these titles, not everything will go as planned, and the program of the four American tourists and the captain of the boat is destined to take an unpleasant path, but we leave the thrill of discovery to you. Among the performers who have given a face to the protagonists stands out Shawn ashmore (who had already lent his likeness to Jack from Quantum Break) in the role of Conrad, and is accompanied by Chris Sandiford in the role of Brad,from Kareem Tristan Alleyne who interprets Alex, and finally by the two girls of the group Arielle Palik, the actress who plays Julia, Ayisha Issa in the role of Fliss.
Don't play alone!
The key thing about this title - and which will most likely be echoed in subsequent productions - is that Supermassive Games wanted to focus the experience on being lived in company. Already with Hidden Agenda of the PlayLink line, the team showed how intriguing and enjoyable a project of this type can be for players to enjoy, especially because it marked a step forward: the modern graphic adventure had never been intended as a group game, if not in following the events as a non-playing spectator. Where Agenda was going to put players in competition with each other, Man of Medan wants to offer us an adventure of a completely different kind, combining the two multiplayer modes with the classic single player: Shared Story Mode, suitable for us to play online courses with a friend and to make us make choices on which his life also depends; and then the Movie Night Mode, a multiplayer local from 2 to 5 players (with the latter number as a favorite) who will see us each impersonate a single character and making the experience even more immersive and empathetic. Clearly this modality also has gods defects, especially dictated by the long consecutive scenes in which players will sometimes find themselves ad wait a long time before being summoned by grabbing the pad for their turn (based on the characters assigned at the start of the game). Even if there is no real competition between the players, this mode still pushes us to give our best by giving us some small judgment on our work (which may depend on our choices, from the success in QTE or from the collection of information e collectable).
La Shared History on the other hand it is more interesting, that even if not changing the general experience much, it will allow us to play simultaneously with a friend of ours. Do you know those classic cases in which the group is divided into several parts? Well, everyone will go to command one of those playing in sync with the other player.
Choices, visions, timing and morals
In terms of gameplay Men of Medan greatly simplifies what we have seen with Until Dawn, using the "moral compass"As a relief valve. When the controlled character at that moment has to decide what to say, a compass will appear at the bottom left of the screen, putting us in front of some answers that we can give "head"Or"heartily“, But clearly pay attention to the silence, that too can often turn out to be an answer. Even if in a couple of excited situations we will be faced with crossroads, the game seems to trap us in a damn forced corridor, and even if the settings proposed inside the ship try at least to vary a minimum, the oppressive sense of following a specific trend could annoy the more "explorer" players. However, we find ourselves saying that despite this it is not easy to run into all the collectibles available, and that therefore the completists will certainly have to give themselves to the centimeter by centimeter analysis of the playing areas. Among them there are also gods paintings, which taking the place of the Until Dawn totems show us some short visions, which can give us some advice - but also mislead us - by showing us some of the plausible futures.
The plot of the title it does not shine for originality and already from the prologue, if you pay close attention, it is possible to steal much more than you would like in advance. However, the sense of anguish peeps out on more than one occasion, and the jumpscare present - unlike Until Dawn - are slightly more reasoned and sometimes totally unexpected (do not expect the miracle, often they will come exactly the old way, exploiting the sector extensively audio). The most palpable flaw though (and from a conceptual point of view it is the most serious) is the lack of true terror and precisely, of the psychological one, of what will put us in difficulty even to take a single step. To all this are added the Quick Time Event to make the challenge more grim, testing our reflexes ... but also our calm and coldness.
Lame or one-eyed?
Technically (for now) Man of Medan doesn't quite defend itself well. At the time of the test (and still) a corrective patch has not yet been disclosed that will fix some very important bugs, capable of heavily influencing the gaming experience. In fact, this narrative horror, as I told you in the previous paragraph, makes timing and choices two of its main weapons, and these defects scratch terribly in this sense. The rating is therefore provisional until its release, and the review will be updated as corrections are applied.