Man of Medan First Look: Ombra Reacts
Supermassive Games, the developer behind the 2015 horror-adventure game Until Dawn, recently released a trailer as well as some brief gameplay of their newest title Man of Medan. The game will cover the terrifying ordeal of a group of deep sea divers stranded on a mysterious ghost ship lost since the Second World War. Premiering at Gamescom 2018 this game marks the first entry in the studios massively ambitious The Dark Pictures series, an anthology of stand alone horror games made in the same cinematic style as Until Dawn. They will all feature branching storylines from the perspective of multiple characters with numerous different endings and ways to experience the story. Pete Samuels, CEO of Supermassive Games was even quoted as saying that Man of Medan will have more branching options than any of their previous games and that none of the player characters are safe from an untimely demise.
I'm personally not the biggest fan of these types of games, as I’d much rather have more direct control over my actions than a series of quick time events. Also I very rarely get the feeling that my choices are making as big of an impact as they’re made out to be. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the myriad of adventure games put out by Telltale Game. Now this isn’t a slight towards Telltale, their games have some fantastic storytelling and they really know how to create some truly emotional moments. Unfortunately, at times, it feels like the choices you have to make are more “in the moment” decisions rather than having any long lasting consequences in the story. The main narrative will often just play out mostly unchanged despite the decisions you’ve made. For instance, a character you save earlier will probably be scripted to die later on anyway. For games that emphasize the players choice, your branching paths will more often than not just lead you to the same unavoidable conclusion. The games put out by Quantic Dream Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls and most recently Detroit: Become Human actually do a fairly good job at giving your choices some weight. But as opposed to Telltale they tend to suffer in the story department, getting dragged down by cringeworrthy dialogue and hamfisted themes. (Ohh the androids have to stand in the back of the bus, GET IT?!) You could get more of Ombra's opinions in our review of Detroit.
However, I think that Until Dawn finds a happy balance between the two ends of the spectrum. Your choices begin affecting the game almost as soon as you start playing and any one of the characters you play as could meet a grizzly end if you chose poorly. The way you interact between the different dialogue branches affects the way characters view each other, something you say or do could mean that person either gets rescued or left to die later in the game. The setting also helps as it isn’t too complex, just a simple cabin in the woods type horror movie scenario with your typical cast of characters. Some of them you’ll like and others you’ll hate, and how you play as them will greatly affect how the story plays out. Sure the game can get a bit cheesy and at times it feels too much like a Goosebumps choose your own adventure novel, but it helps that the developers seem to have been aware of that. It embraces its campy nature and as a result it feels more authentic. The game can also be as fun to watch as it is to play so having a group of friends(preferably ones that are easy to scare) helping you make decisions can be quite a blast.
Based on the trailer and gameplay we saw of Man of Medan it seems to be keeping with the same mysterious, creepy atmosphere and sense of dread that we got in Until Dawn. I for one am hotly anticipating having the ever living crap scared out of me. I’m even more excited to see where The Dark Pictures saga goes from here on out and what new ideas Supermassive has in store. According to the previously mentioned blog post the creators apparently already have dozens of potential story ideas they wish to explore in the future.