Official Website: https://www.thedarkpictures.com/
Who it Caters to
Supermassive Games has truly given us some incredible horror titles in the last several years, but Until Dawn still holds as one of their best creations. That’s why when they announced that a multipart anthology series was being developed, we here at Honey’s Anime yelled not in fear but with jubilee! Known as The Dark Pictures series, our first entry has released with the title of Man of Medan. Loosely based on a legend of a ghost ship known as the SS Ourang Medan, The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan follows a group of young adults who end up in a living nightmare when they are hit by pirates and then trapped on a ghost ship. We entered this dark nightmare with our despair filled adults and we have some thoughts on this advantageous horror experience. Welcome to our review of The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan, keep reading for our full review and see if this horrific sea journey was worth the hype we—and others—had for it.
What to Expect
Similar to Until Dawn, The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan is a third person action/survival horror title where you control various characters and try your best to keep them alive. Various choices you make—and items you discover—will help your players stay alive or end up facing an early demise. Death doesn’t end the tale of The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan though, if a character dies, their story ends, but the others will move forward and may end up surviving the experience or perish due to a loss of another. The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan allows for co-op play where two players can play together or up to 5 players can share a single controller for some good old fashioned couch co-op. Can you keep these poor souls alive or will their curiosity of fortune and fame lead to hells unknown to most?
Brad, Alex, Julia and Conrad are all aspiring divers who hear rumors of a possible dive undiscovered by anyone else. With hopes of making it big the four seek the skills of captain Fliss who has her own small discreet ship and they begin to search for a wrecked ship dating back to WWII. However, unknown to them a pirate vessel hoping for the same has tracked them down and end up kidnapping them. During the struggle, they find a strange vessel and are taken aboard to learn this ship shouldn’t exist anymore. The five souls are now trapped on a ghost ship that isn’t just filled with pirates but with a supernatural force that is quite angry. Survival is now key and the five friends will need to rely on one another to escape this ghost filled ship or they may turn on one another to save their own soul…
We shall assume for a brief second that some of you amazing readers out there might not have gotten the chance to play Until Dawn. If that is the case then here’s what you can expect from the gameplay element to The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan. Players control several people and must navigate various areas while avoiding dangers that can lead to an early end for your controlled character. Like Until Dawn, The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan focuses on choices/quick time events to dictate what happens in the narrative. Fail to jump over a chasm by missing too many button presses? Then your character will fall to his/her death. Miss an important item earlier on due to lack of exploration? You might not be able to save another character or even yourself later in the story.
Mistreat a fellow character and maybe their actions will reflect that when the time comes that you need their help. The beauty of The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan is that this simple gameplay setup allows any level of gamer to enter and control the story based on their skills—or lack of—to affect how The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan ends. Here’s the thing though. If The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan was like Until Dawn in every concept we might have some problems with it. We’re glad to say that Supermassive Games learned from their successes and failings of Until Dawn to create a truly amazing title in the form of The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan.
Where The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan shows its best elements is in the story, which—in our minds—actually trumps over Until Dawn. The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan focuses on characters that feel less formulaic then Until Dawn and actually more life-like. This is reflected in their attitudes when problems arise in The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan and when survival begins to get harder to do. Occasionally, you’ll feel the pings of a B movie while playing The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan, but that actually helps the immersion. The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan often feels just like that, a movie. You will watch characters live—or die—based on your interactions and you will change the whole tale in the process. The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan gave us one other big surprise too…co-op.
That’s right readers out there. The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan is fully playable alone or with up to 5 friends! If you play online, you and one other choose who to control and then make decisions for those chosen characters. If you play in the so-called Movie Night Mode then up to 5 friends can share a controller—and pick a character—to make choices together or even…against each other. There’s a true thrill to watching a friend control a character you love or hate and watching them dictate what that character does. We had moments where we screamed in joy as we all survived a tough section and then we had moments where we yelled in anger as we let a character die due to miss communication or even failed choices earlier on. Yet, no matter our experience, we’d re-enter the world of The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan and try again to see what else we could do to alter the fate of these five characters. While single player is spooky and fun, playing with others is where The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan succeeds over Until Dawn and makes for a whole new horror experience.
Another element of The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan that truly captivated us was the characters themselves. The Curator—a strange overseer who judges you based on your choices—steals the show by being odd and creepy but the other five survivors are also pretty darn solid. Conrad—the rich boy—acts like a clown but you begin to see his survival skills as he faces horrors roaming on the ship. Brad—our nerdy hero—starts off seemingly groan worthy as you laugh at his pushover attitude but when the game begins to hit the midpoint…Brad becomes truly cool. The others all have their pros and cons as well but that’s why The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan works so well. Until Dawn was a B movie through and through, but The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan relies on using real world personalities to show the best/worst of the human soul.
What helps The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan hit that final sweet note is the graphics which are truly amazing. Once more Supermassive Games uses real-world actors as character models for our in-game players and it helps give a nice level of emotion when events occur. Equally, the environments are incredible. The ghost ship—where most of the game takes place in—feels like an honest to God ghost ship. With a camera that mirrors the classic Resident Evil games—but in an engaging way—walking the seemingly copied and pasted halls gives off a feeling of you being the overseer watching these survivors endure. Needless to say, The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan nails the graphics needed to be a great horror game.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan feels very much like the best and worst of Until Dawn. Filled with scares—both supernatural and realistic— The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan does a great job of keeping you engaged from the first few segments to the last. We loved the spooky setting of the ghost ship with its claustrophobic halls and seemingly repeating corridors. Equally, the various threats you face in The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan can be truly disturbing! Where The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan falters is the odd reliance of being too safe with its Until Dawn formula and the odd frame rate problems that can cause lag in places lag isn’t needed.
Even with those few issues, The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan was a truly gripping experience whether we played it alone or with friends. Having friends betray you wishing to know how it would effect the story or making a choice you feel isn’t correct keeps you constantly guessing what will happen next while playing The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan. That’s why, if you loved Until Dawn or just love spooky horror stories that can be considered a movie-like experience— The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan is only about 3 hours long—then you should wholeheartedly download this impressive survival horror as soon as possible!
Excellent use of tension and jump scares to keep you guessing where the next horror bit will appear next.
Impressive details to various character models and settings.
Strong narrative—especially from our curator—that makes multiple playthroughs a must.
Co-op modes make The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan feel almost like a different game and even have extra scenes not found in the single player.
Simple but solid gameplay overall that allows almost anyone to play The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan.
Expect a lot of frame rate issues that can lead to some untimely deaths or loss of immersion moments.
Feels a bit too much like Until Dawn with the various gameplay elements
Honey's Final Verdict:
The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan was well worth the wait and that is always a good thing for an extremely hyped title. We loved the co-op elements and equally loved the overall theme/setting for The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan. Is The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan perfect? No, but very few horror games are and what The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan gets right definitely overrules the issues it has. The next The Dark Pictures title will be released in 2020 and if it’s even close to The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan then we will be back for even more scares in a new location with a brand-new cast of cursed souls! Did you enjoy The Dark Pictures-Man of Medan or plan on playing it anytime soon? Tell us in the comments below as we love hearing from our readers out there! If you want even more game or anime reviews, then keep stuck to our hive here at Honey’s Anime!
Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!