The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan Xbox One X Review

Man of Medan excels at delivering an uneasy and tension-filled horror adventure.

By Grayshadow, Posted 31 Aug 2019

After the release of Until Dawn, many were excited for what Supermassive would tackle next. The first installment in The Dark Pictures Anthology called Man of Medan won't appeal to everyone. It still has believable and realistic characters attempting to survive a horrible situation. With multiple avenues of success and failure. But the narrative takes a while to get started and the movement of the characters when exploring can feel like they have a force field around them. Regardless, Man of Medan excels at delivering an uneasy and tension-filled horror adventure.

The Dark Pictures Anthology,Man of Medan,NoobFeed,

Man of Medan starts off with a prologue, providing a basic tutorial explaining the controls while setting up the environment our main cast will be exploring. Afterward, we jump to the present and introduced to our 5 playable characters; Brad, Alex, Julia, Conrad, and Fliss.

Each one has their own reasons for being on this adventure and have distinct personalities that the player can alter. Julia is confident but senseless at times, Conrad is cocky but capable, Brad is inexperienced but knowledgable, Fliss is a strong leader but stubborn, and Alex means well but is insecure. None of these characters are safe and like Until Dawn, that's where Man of Medan excels at.

Despite having control of most of the answers and actions, how your relationship developers with each of the characters can alter and change in unexpected ways. A helpful chart does provide a great way to track how each character responded to your answers and where the person's attributes are leaning towards. These have long-lasting effects as the characters change their actions based on how they feel about each character.

The story does take a while to get going. With the main cast starting off on a diving trip before revealing their true intentions. To locate hidden gold supposedly in an undiscovered location. In true horror-movie fashion, things go bad quickly and now everyone's lives are in danger.

It does take a while for the real action to get started but after completing the 3-4 hour adventure and looking back, it all worked. The characters were established, the tension constantly rising, and the story continues as a logical pace. Leading to a lot of tough circumstances where you'll cautiously pick your answers.

Gameplay relies heavily on QTEs and making choices. Most are timed  and separated into nothing major to fatal. Thankfully, since this is a multiplatform game there are no motion controls! No need to flick the control or hold is completely still. These were personal frustrations I had with Until Dawn and I'm glad they're gone. Replacing it is a meter where you tap a face button at the right time. The QTEs are well-paced, they don't over shower the player with the constant need for commands but keep the player alert as one can appear at any moment.

When you're given the chance to explore the environment, the character movements are stiff and slow. It feels like the characters have a forcefield around them, causing them to get caught on every little thing. And the speed they walk it can become frustratingly annoying. There are a lot of collectables that add to the game's lore. Providing much-needed context into the characters and setting. Back in the premonition in the form of paintings. When found they show off a possible death of a character, which you can avoid if you play smart.

Graphically, Man of Medan looks fantastic. Every area on the ship is very well-designed and the character models, despiting moving like giant boulders, have a quality look. The sound design shares the same quality. With each character having a terrific voice-actor.

Amplifying the entire situation is the incredible flow of sounds. It's a very subtle detail but how Supermassive crafted how sound is delivered adds to the overall tension. With moments of silence complemented with drops of water and sometimes the occasion loud track when something weird happens. It's a classic horror mechanic but used very well here.

There's an episode selection where you can pick specific parts and alter a current save. This is great for changing small decisions and moving forward from there. But you cannot skip cutscenes or dialogue, meaning you'll have watch the entire scene before getting to the specific situation.

There's a multiplayer option available, both online and offline. Shared Story allows 2 players to experience the narrative while Movie Night has 2-5 players passing the control as the adventure continues. In the online mode, you cannot see the other players choices, which makes for a dynamic experience. It's a cool idea and works well-enough but it can't beat the solo experience.

Man of Medan is a great start to The Dark Pictures Anthology. The slow pace of the start won't appeal to everyone but comes together in the end. With each decision leading to a ripple effect down the line. However, the slow movement of the characters and the inability to skip dialogue and cutscenes does mean you'll have to replay large sections to see alternative takes. Regardless, Man of Medan delivers a solid horror narrative full of reasons to come back and play again.

Adam Siddiqui,
Senior Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Bandai Namco
Developer(s): Supermassive Games
Genres: Narrative
Themes: Supernatural
Release Date: 2019-08-30

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