The Dark Pictures: The Man of Medan
Microsoft Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Ghost ships and the mysteries of the sea have factored into our culture since we carved the first canoes out of pine trees.
Chile has its Caleuche. South Africa has the Flying Dutchman. Canada, as we here at the Superstitious Times know, has the Fireship of Baie des Chaleurs.
So, it’s no wonder that some of the myths from the sea, and the isolation of those floating aimlessly a la Ancient Mariner, have manifested into a video game plot.
Enter writers Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick, who crafted the plotline of Until Dawn, a game that took a few years to come to fruition for the PS4.
They’ve returned, four years later, with Dark Pictures: Man of Medan.
The aforementioned tales of the sea factor heavily into this, as one of the most (in)famous cases of a ghost ship, the Ourang Medan, plays host to some unsuspecting young adults.
Again, Supermassive Games toy with the idea of a butterfly effect, where all the decisions you make with five individual characters lead to certain doom or survival.
Join Alex, Brad, Conrad, Fliss and Julia as the battle gnarly fishermen, government red tape and desecrated U.S. sailor corpses on the Pacific Ocean.
You can play alone. Or in a tantalizing new trip, you can play co-operatively.
But the question in this first episode of a series of horror survival games is whether or not the Ourang Medan, which left port in China for Costa Rica back in 1954, was haunted or just one bad trip on sulphuric acid.
The real ship, or the real story that’s been reduced to a legend and reworked with each passing decade, and each YouTube video highlighting mysteries of ocean navigation, has some validity, as even the CIA has taken interest in it.
There are multiple points where the characters piece together what happened on the rusty rig. There are also certain intervals where rooms are in pristine condition, particularly when Fliss enters a grand ballroom, and Alex enters the kitchen.
If we think about the effects of hallucinogens, then the amber-hued vapour that clings to the floor in the game could be the catalyst behind the haunting images afflicted on our heroes.
Still, the running theme, especially by the Curator, who provides us with the segue between acts, is “Things are not as they appear”. Venture down the right path, and perhaps you’ll save all five of our intrepid adventurers.
There are seven more Dark Pictures survival horror games in the works. At a cheaper price of $39.99, this could be a lucrative venture for the studio, especially for those who dive headfirst into the world of supernatural horror survival games.
It’s a decent, albeit short game.
Next, we have Little Hope for the next one. Actually, we do but we thought it was bewitching to write it that way.
And we couldn’t ask for a better writer to be behind the scenes than Larry Fessenden, who loves to immerse himself into supernatural cultures around the world.