Supermassive Games returns with another horror adventure title.
Supermassive Games’ 2015 title, the narrative-driven choice-based Until Dawn, was a breakout hit, but in the years since then, the studio’s mostly been working on some not-so-stellar VR titles. With their upcoming Man of Medan, the first instalment in their horror anthology series The Dark Pictures, they’re going back to delivering the sort of experience we’ve all been looking for from them- and they’re doing it as a multiplatform studio, with the help of Bandai Namco.
Man of Medan is almost here now, releasing at the end of this month, so as we approach its launch, in this feature, we’ll be going over the fifteen biggest talking points from the game. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Man of Medan’s story revolves around a group of friends on vacation out in the South Pacific Ocean, doing vacation-y things, like taking dives into the ocean. What could go wrong, right? Except one of their dives leads them to a sunken vessel, which, as it turns out, is a cursed ghost ship. Now, trapped in this ship with a storm brewing outside, and with untold evils having been awoken in their presence, they must unravel the mysteries of their dangerous surroundings, and find a way to make it out alive.
THE OURANG MEDAN
Supermassive Games based Until Dawn on the myth of the Wendigo, a man-eating evil spirit from folklore. Similarly, Man of Medan is also based on a real-life myth- that of the SS Ourang Medan, a real ship that, as legend goes, was completely wrecked, with all of its crew dying under mysterious circumstances. Conspiracy theories surrounding the ship have often mentioned that the disaster that struck it and its crews were the work of an unseen and unknown entity- so it should be interesting to see what spin Man of Medan puts on the whole thing.
CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES
Just like Until Dawn, Man of Medan is a game that will rely heavily on choice and consequence mechanics, from dialogue options to choices that can completely change the way the story pans out. Also just like Until Dawn– depending on your choices, by the time you’re done with a playthrough, every single one of your characters can be dead (or alive, but when is that ever fun).
This should give you a good idea of how many branching paths the game has to support its choice and consequence mechanics. Though Man of Medan has a smaller cast of main characters than Until Dawn with five total characters, the developers have said that in total, there are 69 possible deaths for all of them. According to Supermassive, to witness every single one of these deaths, you’d have to play through the game eight or nine times.
Of course, a horror game is only as good as the scares it provides- and that’s not always an easy thing to do. Until Dawn had some pretty terrifying moments, but how is Man of Medan going to turn out. Supermassive have said that each of the game in their Dark Pictures anthology is going to adhere to a particular subgenre of horror, and while we don’t know yet which subgenre Man of Medan will fall in, the developers are pretty confident of, in their own words, scaring players out of their skins.
“We’re always looking to go further,” Game Director Tom Heaton told us in an interview back at E3. ” So there’s things we learn in how to do scares. Sometimes it’s about slow-building tension. The suspense— that’s kind of essential. We get the player in a very heightened state; they’re very anxious. They don’t know where the scares are going to come from, and that’s when we can do a scare. We’ve got techniques for doing that. We’re always trying to scare the player out of their skin.”
There will be ways that you’ll be able to prepare yourself for what’s coming next- partially, at least. Throughout the game, you’ll find these “dark pictures”, that if you pick up and look at them, you’ll receive premonitions of things that might happen in the future, giving you some information to work with going forward. These, however, are things you’ll have to explore and seek out, so always be on the lookout for even the slightest upper hand.
The length of a game – any game – is something we’re all very concerned with. So how long is Man of Medan going to be? A single playthrough, according to the developers, will last around four to five hours, but Supermassive say they’ve made the game highly replayable. In fact, owing to all the choice and consequence mechanics we’ve already spoken of, multiple playthroughs are actually encouraged. That, and other modes and features – which we’ll get to in a bit – will be looking to make Man of Medan a pretty meaty experience.
Man of Medan will also come with something called a Curator’s Cut, which sounds like a really interesting feature. What it does is, on subsequent playthroughs after you’ve finished the game once, you’ll be able to see scenes from the perspective of other characters, and make choices from their perspective. The story, then, will unravel differently, new information and secrets will come to light, and the outcome of the story will, of course, change as well. To all those who pre-order Man of Medan, Curator’s Cut will be free on the day of launch itself. For everyone else, it will be unlocked later in 2019- also for free.
Like any narrative and choice-driven adventure title, the core gameplay of Man of Medan will revolve around quick time events. Supermassive, though, are honing their craft, and making some subtle yet interesting changes here. QTEs in Man of Medan will be more contextual, and change based on the situation. For instance, in high-stakes and high-tension scenes, you can expect QTEs to be faster than they were in Until Dawn.
Here’s something new and curious- Man of Medan isn’t going to be a purely single player experience. It will also have a very interesting co-op experience. There’s Shared Story Mode, which will see two players connecting online for co-op play, with each taking control of a different character, and with their decisions affecting each other and how the story plays out. Then there’s the Movie Night Mode, for upto five players, played locally, with each player passing the controller around as more characters are introduced in the story, and all players affecting the outcome of the story.
As we’ve already discussed, The Dark Pictures is an anthology series, in that each of its instalments will be separate, isolated stories. That said, there will be a common thread running across all of them. And that will be the character of the Curator Pip Torrens. Other than the Curator, there will also be secrets in the games that will reference some others in the series- narratively though, each game will be its own separate thing.
Until Dawn is one of the few games to date to have used Guerrilla Games’ Decima Engine, but with Supermassive no longer working on a PlayStation exclusive, that won’t be possible with their future games. Man of Medan is instead built on the Unreal Engine- but from everything that we’ve seen of the game so far, the visuals look just as good as you’d expect from a Supermassive title.
Supermassive Games have spent a lot of time in recent years working on virtual reality titles for the PSVR- so is Man of Medan also going to support VR on PS4 and PC? Well, no. Supermassive Games have confirmed that Man of Medan – and all other games in this anthology – won’t support VR, and will be traditional cinematic experiences.
If you’re playing on PC, you’ll require a pretty impressive rig to run Man of Medan on recommended settings. An Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (or an AMD Radeon RX 580) graphics card and an Intel Core i5- 8400 (or an AMD Ryzen 5 1600) are recommended. For minimum requirements, you can make do with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 (or an AMD Radeon HD 7870) graphics card and an Intel Core i5-3470 (or an AMD FX-8350) processor. Here’s the big one though- it’ll require 80 GB of free space in your system’s storage.
PS4 PRO AND XBOX ONE X ENHANCEMENTS
Like most (if not all) major and semi-major releases on the PS4 and the Xbox One these days, Man of Medan will feature enhancements for the more powerful variants of both consoles. On both the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X, Man of Medan will run at a 4K resolution and support HDR.