Man of Medan is an interactive adventure horror game and is available this month on PS Plus. Man of Medan starts with the curator who seems to be in an infinite supply of creepy stories, during points of the game you will be brought back to the curator for a bit where he will be weird and ominous and guide you in certain directions while you play. The curator adds a lot of mystery during the game while adding a familiar face that you always go back to. It feels like you’re not on this adventure alone and that it’s more of a mystery that he is trying to get you to solve than anything.
The story of Man of Medan follows a group of 20-somethings that set off on a sailing expedition and run into some trouble with pirates, ghost ships, and secret World War 2 affairs. You make the character’s decisions and choices through dialogue options and QuickTime events. Changing the story and making it play out differently every time you revisit it to uncover more of the truth behind the scenes. The story goes places that you don’t think it will go and a lot of your decisions do actually have repercussions, it’s amazing how detailed and intricate the game is willing to go for the player to have their individualized experience.
Gameplay consists of walking around talking to others and picking up collectibles like journals or items that may be usable later on. The main component is decision making when talking to others you have 3 options during certain parts of the conversation, saying something with your mind which leans on the more practical side of things and saying something with your heart which deals more with your feelings and will give you more of an emotional verdict or you can say nothing. By choosing what to say you can control the story to a degree and shape the character’s future in a good way or a bad way.
The characters are then thrown into horrible situations and with their lives, in your hands, you can choose how the tale plays out. We have all the horror stereotypes here, the 2 rich kids’ siblings Julia is the sweet one and Conrad is the annoying jock, Brad is the nerd and his brother Alex who is Julia’s boyfriend is anxious when it comes to their relationship but he is cool and collected. Fliss is the captain of the boat that they first get on and she is a very determined and strong-willed individual.
All their personalities seem very over the top at first but that’s to get all the formalities and connections out of the way. The way that they interact is actually entertaining, reasonable, and believable. Everyone seems to mesh well in the best possible ways as well as the worst ways. The voice acting and direction are mostly amazing with characters expressing emotion in realistic ways. Sometimes it all comes off as stiff which isn’t helped by the animation of the character models. One thing that’s hard to pull off well when you’re making games with realistic graphics is that everything else needs to be realistic enough or else it will have too much of an uncanny feeling.
The faces look great for the most part mostly because they’re modeled directly off the voice actors. In some instances when the face isn’t moving they look incredible other times not so much. Julia seems to be the stand-out, her face, lip movement, eyes, and body seem to line up consistently the best throughout the adventure. It’s noticeable enough that it is jarring when compared to the other cast. There are some pretty great shots in Man of Medan as well, one way this is different from Until Dawn is that this game is riddled with more closed areas.
The camera work is pretty stellar and keeps the moment intimate by staying close and building tension, it’s almost like the camera is a character itself. It is also used for some good jump scares and artistic environmental storytelling. While being in tight places might be nice from a horror standpoint it doesn’t bid as well from a gameplay perspective, the camera is constantly shifting while you walk through the ship and the controls get confused about which way you’re going. Man of Medan is an exciting roller coaster ride, it’s so fun to piece together this mystery of what happened and connect the dots to solve the bigger overarching story.
The way Man of Medan handles voice acting, characters emotionally expressing themselves realistically and all the different paths you can go down along with how the actual scenes of the story unfold are all virtues of how story and decision-driven games like this should be. Although controlling the awkward moving characters can get frustrating when you’re simply trying to walk down a hallway or through a door, especially with the sudden extreme camera shifts. The facial recognition is a fantastic achievement and I would definitely recommend Man of Medan to horror fans.
Man of Medan will be available to PlayStation Plus members until Monday, August 1.
Man of Medan is an exciting roller coaster ride, it's so fun to piece together this mystery of what happened and connect the dots to solve the bigger overarching story and the horror elements are amazing. The way Man of Medan handles voice acting, characters emotionally expressing themselves realistically and all the different paths you can go down along with how the actual scenes of the story unfold are all virtues of how story and decision-driven games like this should be.