I was talking with a friend today and I completely forgot about this entire ******** game we played together.
Man of Medan came out at the end of August, developed by Supermassive Games, the same people who made one of my favorite horror games of ALL TIME, Until Dawn. It doesn't really bode well when this is a game I played and completely forgot about.
So, the quick review. 5/10. It's okay, it's a nice distraction but a vastly inferior product compared to this developers prior entry.
The long and short of it is that it's just not as good as Until Dawn. There are a few things about this entire game that isn't up to snuff.
Alright, what don't I like?
The plot. Well, I can't judge this fairly because I was already very familiar with the story of the Ourang Medan, the ghost ship of legend. I knew about this ghost story from around 10 years ago.
I was fresh into my new job, and my co-workers and I were chilling in the halls of Parliament, while we were there, a janitor they were friends with came to chat with us, and it was around October, so he told us the story of Ourang Medan and how it was well known to his family back in India.
Of course, the night after I heard this, I had to read up everything I could. I had become rather fascinated with the story and found a lot! So, the story wasn't anything new. Does this bother me? Ehhh, kind of? I mean yes, while I love the psychosomatic nature of certain horror stories, Supermassive didn't go hard enough with this one. They could have done so much more, and we were left with something that feels a little incomplete.
The Ourang Medan was found off the coast of Indonesia in the 1940's, the crew was found dead, frozen in position and their faces contorted in horror. There was a lot suspicious and unusual activity going on before they found the ship, but during a extraction attempt, the Ourang Medan actually blew up, at least, that's what happened when I read about it, so there is no physical ship around anymore, but it's a fun ghost story.
The facial animations. Now, Until Dawn was't perfect, they were pretty garish and hammy but they worked so well, and there was a type of elasticity to their expression that really sold their performances.
In Medan, everyone has a little bit too much teeth showing and it feels unbelievably stiff. They're stuck in Uncanny Valley and they almost never leave it unless they have a neutral expression.
The characters. So, a smaller cast. UD had like nine separate main characters. All with their own unique personalities and motivations. Medan has five main characters and a handful of side characters. So, you'd think we'd get to know them better? Again, not really. The game is significantly shorter than UD, so nothing beyond the first 20 minutes really sets up and explores these characters in a comprehensible way.
Medan also goes in a separate direction that indicates they don't want you to root for these characters right off the bat. And the problem stands that unlike UD, how you feel about these characters when you meet them will not change. I liked Fliss the best but she can't save the entire game.
Also, there are legitimate villains but they're pretty much just story fodder. At one point, I thought they were in the Caribbean because they sound like they speak with Creole accents. (we're in the South Pacific... the other siiiide)
The choices. So, the best part about this game is that you can dictate how how the story will unfold, with choices piling on and affecting later gameplay decision. Medan is not that deep, the choices are pretty shallow. Until Dawn was too, but the routes and consequences were far more interesting.
In Medan, half the options don't even properly portray what's going to happen, or even what the prompt is asking. I had friends die from the most menial s**t because the prompt was asking to press rapidly, or hold with no indication and so they failed the prompt at the most devastating time.
Until Dawn actually took me a few days to achieve full completion, Man of Medan took a single night to find most routes and then I basically give up because I couldn't convince myself to run through the game two more times by myself. Also, the deaths aren't as gruesome, I was kind of sad about that.
What did I like?
The multiplayer aspect! Now, I feel this could be expanded upon and fleshed out in a super organic way, like how much fun would be to have a horror game where you can cause the deaths of your friends because you get too far ahead, or cause the deaths of strangers because you acted a certain way.
I played with three other people, and we were all responsible for a different character, we pulled double duty with Fliss though, as we all wanted to control her. It was fun, but it was over so quickly. With all of us working together, the game took around 4 hours. Not long at all.
The Ship. I liked the environment, it was claustrophobic, tight, filthy, and we're barefoot. It's a real nightmare and they do a great job utilizing the ship's atmosphere.
The game is on rails, like UD, but in this case, it does help because scouting the ship yourself would almost guarantee you'd get lost and likely murdered instantly if it was free roam. (It would be great for multiplayer though!) I like how each segment of the ship is dedicated to a character.
Another thing I have to mention is while the game is not that scary (it's actually incredibly tame compared to UD) there is a single, solitary moment of real horror that just sticks with me, and it's only a few seconds long.
While on the Medan, and you're Conrad, there's an incredible moment during a perspective change. While walking through a door to proceed, right beside the door, you see a pinup lady is standing there, smiling and watching you. We stopped instantly and turned around and she was gone. We spent the next five minutes hollering about it, it was so subtle, so clever, just so damn good! I wish the game utilized more of this kind of sleight of hand as opposed to the villains and jump scares we did get. The overall tone of horror was very weak.
Also, there's a advertisement for Supermassive's next installment.
Okay. I don't like this practice, Kingdom Hearts III did this, too. I don't ******** care how good you think this game is going to be, impress me with the game I'm playing right ******** now and THEN I'll play another game from you. And the thing is KHIII and Man of Medan did not impress me.
And both have the same problem, they had much better previous installments that make the following games feel inferior.
Even then, Man of Medan is not bad. If you're a horror vet, and you play this alone, I don't think you'll get much out of it. I think I've rated it so high because I played it with other people and to this DAY, nothing beats a decent night of couch co-op. it really enhanced the experience and I have a feeling the devs wanted to push multiplayer for this exact reason.
Anyway, maybe I'll actually talk about Outlast 2 next time, a game I've been putting of talking about for two years! Or... ******** POKEMON SHIELD?
Nah, probably won't play until christmas.
and happy N7 day!
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