The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan – Hands-on With the Brilliant Multiplayer

I’ve been to more than my share of gaming events throughout my 10+ years writing for PlayStation LifeStyle, and I’ve even driven a race car at Laguna Seca, but I can’t remember being more honored visiting a venue than the one Denny Chiu and his awesome PR team at Bandai Namco Games chose for the upcoming title by Supermassive Games: The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan. The game’s main setting is aboard an abandoned and haunted Dutch freighter that was being used as a WWII military cargo ship. It was only fitting that Denny and his team chose the USS Hornet for our hands-on preview event as it is a retired US Navy aircraft carrier (rumored to also be haunted) that not only served during WWII, but also picked up the American astronauts of Apollo 11 on July 24, 1969. They had just returned from being the first men to walk on the moon and it really was an honor to walk in the footsteps of the men who had just returned from the moon almost 50 years earlier. Big thanks to Denny and his team for this.

New Info Revealed for The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan

Once we worked our way three decks down into the belly of the ship, we were introduced to Pete Samuels, CEO and Executive Producer at Supermassive Games. He revealed to us that while the game can be played completely solo, they would rather you never play alone and have incorporated two player online co-op and a ‘Movie Night’ mode. In online co-op, you and a partner will each experience a different aspect of the game, and control decisions and actions of different players. These decisions and actions go towards determining what the other player sees, but may result in their death as well. Our group was split into pairs as we sat down and started the game on PS4 Pros.

With most online co-op games, all players pretty much see exactly what the other player sees, but maybe from a slightly different angle. Not so with The Dark Pictures Anthology, as you may not even be in the exact same place, depending on your story arc. Case in point, the game starts out as we embarked on a journey to find a crashed WWII bomber. Upon finding it, I stayed on the boat to assist the captain while the other player was deep beneath the waves scuba diving down to the airplane. While we were both playing the same game, our experiences couldn’t have been more different. I think I almost killed the poor guy by not paying close enough attention to the boat’s dive line, which in turn tore off the cockpit of the bomber with my partner inside the plane. Oops, my bad.

Movie Night Gives You a New Way to Enjoy the Evening

There are times when I’ll want to play a game on the big screen in my living room but my wife is dead set on watching a movie. For gamers, it can be a common dilemma where the gamer almost always loses. The Dark Pictures Anthology has a solution to this problem: Movie Night mode. The game is very cinematic to begin with, but would your significant other or even a group of friends want to spend several hours watching you play through it? Probably not, so Supermassive games introduced us to this new mode that is a pass-the-controller type of couch co-op for 2-5 players. Each player gets to add their name and select their own unique character to play as, then watches and waits their turn as the other players play one at a time.

I actually wasn’t aware of how much different the experience was in two-player co-op for the other player until I witnessed Movie Night mode. Almost every decision you make has consequences and only through replaying the game can you fully understand the ramifications of your decisions. In two-player co-op, the decisions not only affect each other, but can also affect what the other player witnesses and what decisions they’ll be faced with. It’s an intriguing concept and the execution of which was handled very well in our 90 minute demo. While Movie Night mode is a great way to experience the game, two-player co-op can almost feel like an entirely different game depending on what you choose.

Impressive Graphics and Facial Animations

I played the game on a PS4 Pro in 4K and the graphics were impressive. What surprised me the most was the facial expressions and being able to read the lips of most of the characters. As someone that’s very hard of hearing, I do this now without even thinking about it in my daily life, so it was nice to be able to do this successfully within a video game. The level of detail when each character speaks and/or interacts with the other characters really gives the game a real-life feel. You can see emotions on their faces as well, and this also adds to the game. Your decisions may result in anger, humor, disgust, or even bafflement by the other characters and it was pretty easy to distinguish the responses.

The graphics for the environments looked pretty impressive as well. The level of detail in the underwater area around the sunken bomber felt as alive as if you were really underwater. Watch out for sharks, though, as they have been known to be in the area. It was obvious that a lot of time and effort went into creating every aspect of the demo, and the environments were no exception.  This is a gorgeous game and it clearly looks ready to go. I can’t wait to have friends over to play through the game multiple times on a future Movie Night.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan is set to release on August 30th, 2019 and pre-orders are live now.