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Hands On: All Aboard For Man of Medan’s Multiplayer Modes

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Hands On: All Aboard For Man of Medan’s Multiplayer Modes

Shared Story and Movie Night modes take the chills and thrills to a new level.

Supermassive Games just gets horror. When Until Dawn screamed onto PS4 back in 2015, it brought with it a savvy understanding of horror tropes matched with hyper-realistic graphics and real consequences that made the fear come alive. The threat of death looming over each character and the drive to solve its lingering mysteries kept me coming back to the game, often alongside friends who would watch and help me find new paths (and untimely ends) for the cast through multiple playthroughs.

When I played a short demo for Man of Medan back at E3, I could tell that the first game in Supermassive’s Dark Pictures horror anthology was off to a solid start. The characters felt human, and the consequences of my interactions felt meaningful. Stepping onto the historic U.S.S. Hornet in Alameda earlier this week for a longer preview of the game, Supermassive gave a broader peek at its narrative structure…and a first look at its game-changing multiplayer modes.

Shared Story mode is a two-player online mode that puts each player in control of different characters, at times presenting them with totally separate sequences. Man of Medan follows a group of 20-somethings who embark on a wreck-diving adventure hoping to discover some treasure, but instead stumbling upon something much darker. The game indicates when control is shifting to a new character, and it similarly relays who your partner is controlling in the upper right hand corner. “Your friend is deciding” flashes ominously during time-critical moments left in their hands.

Characters can appear in scenes together, physically exploring a shared environment or even having a conversation, or they can be split up. In one sequence I played as the reckless Julia, diving below our ship to explore an undiscovered WWII plane wreck. While I grappled with choices underwater (do I take my scuba gear off to possibly reach a clue? Do I pull a bullet out of the hull as a souvenir or respectfully leave things untouched?), my partner controlled the reluctant captain of the ship Fliss, engaging in a totally unrelated interaction. Each of us had conversations and made choices that would affect the relationships for all the characters in the story, and we did this without being able to consult one another.

This is the collaborative crux of Shared Story mode. While my partner and I both had an idea of who each of these characters are, and what choices we’d like them to make, the mode creates scenarios where our individual choices created unexpected waves for one another. Sometimes it ended well; our separate conversation choices led to one character getting seasick, which in turn led to him being hidden when the boat was eventually overtaken by intruders. Other times, our best intentions served only to get in each other’s way. While exploring the ship, I rummaged through someone’s luggage, leaving out a bottle of cologne. When the intruders boarded later in the demo, I thought I had made a savvy choice — having the bottle exposed made it easier to grab and smash against one of the bad guys’ heads. But when I consulted my partner after the dust had settled, she told me since her character was above deck during that scene, smashing the bottle actually interrupted her character’s attempt at escaping, leaving us wondering what could have been.

An earlier moment, which served as a tutorial, featured WWII soldiers aboard a battleship. In its final moments, my partner and I believed our characters were separated and succumbing to differing grisly fates. When we met up after the playthrough, the questions flowed quickly — where did you go? What did you see? How did you die? It turned out our characters were actually in the same room, but experiencing different supernatural visions that resulted in us killing each other.

This excitable exchanging of notes made a playthrough of Movie Night mode even more dramatic. The couch co-op mode lets five people each choose a character, then pass the controller when each corresponding character is in control. Having all just come out of a first runthrough, everyone in my party had opinions about which choices we should make, all willing to miss a quick time event or make a more aggressive remark just to see how the narrative would shift. And shift it did — seedier details were revealed, different clues were unlocked, and we even got a character’s ear cut off (sorry Conrad!).

While Until Dawn organically worked as a more communal experience, Supermassive has woven that idea more elegantly into Man of Medan. Its naturally collaborative modes serve to heighten the game’s suspense and add interesting new layers to an already delightful horror romp. My choices felt impactful, and it was fascinating to see how offhand comments could make ripples…or treacherous waves. I’ll be grabbing a friend to see where the story goes next when Man of Medan launches August 30 on PS4.

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19 Comments

  • Mercenary09

    Can’t wait to play this one next month. Loved Until Dawn!

    • iamtylerdurden1

      I can. I loved Until Dawn as well, platinumed it and enjoyed every behind the scenes video. My issue, however, is that Supermassive completely screwed Sony in order to launch this “independent” project. The Inpatient and Bravo Team were clearly understaffed and half hearted projects that only served as a way of acquire more funds for their formerly unsigned internal project. Actual devs at Supermassive confirmed this, claiming most of the ppl/resources that should’ve been working on these Sony projects were instead on the unsigned project that would later be Dark Pictures/Medan.

      Worse yet, Until Dawn and Sony made you relevant so instead of making a proper AAA sequel you build a new IP with the money and make it multiplatform? Nice..

    • KidGreengene

      Tyler, my loyalty check from Sony must have got lost this month, but you do you.

  • KidGreengene

    I was just looking over my list of what my GotY contenders are so far.. and just felt incredibly unsatisfied. I enjoyed Day’s Gone but there were so many issues, I would be uneasy naming it GotY. I love Division 2 but understand it isn’t a GotY type (at least not mine). But honestly, I am thinking this will be the first title of 2019 that will feel like a true GotY nod for me! The online co-op sounds amazing!

    • iamtylerdurden1

      I payed Days Gone on Day 1 PS4 Pro and the game had a fraction of the issues that most open world AAAs have. Witcher 3 won GotY and still runs worse than Days Gone. This is the most overblown bs i’ve seen in a while.

      Days Gone framerate was beautiful until VERY late game, then it merely runs like a standard open world AAA with drops and mild inconsistencies during high action.

      I never got stuck in geometry, never had to reload a save other than a simple molotov bug, no crashes.

      I encountered a molotov bug that was fixed by shutting off the game and turning it back on, the lip synching delay was fixed. A few dips late. That is the extent in 80 hrs of play. Witcher 3 and Bloodborne STILL run worse.

      Days Gone is a great game that ppl apologize for liking. “It’s a great game but….”. It’s just a great game. Period. Game of the year 2019 easily. Witcher 3 is a great game, however, ppl overlooked a myriad of issues yet that is the most praised multiplat this gen. I’m playing TW3 in 4K HDR on Pro and Days Gone looks vastly superior, graphically. Days Gone has vastly superior combat, runs better, and has better voice acting yet TW3 is on gaming’s Mt. Rushmore and ppl are apologizing for liking Days Gone. Oh, and the writing/lore is better in TW3, but not the story. TW3 is just as obvious and they use the same tired method. Ciri was seen in White Orchard, go there. Ciri was seen in Velen, go there, Ciri was seen in Novigrad, go there. And every NPC who’d seen her is about to tell you, but “first do this quest for me, only after a game of Gwent ofc”. Bloody Baron’s kid is missing but he wants to play Gwent with Geralt instead of having him immediately leave to find her?

      Every game is flawed, but i feel like the high brow fantasy nature of TW3 lent critics to regard it more highly, whereas, Days Gone was looked at as a low brow romp in the mud simply due to the subject matter. Days Gone is a great game.

    • KidGreengene

      Tyler… wow.. triggered? You loved it, I loved it but. The issues I hinted at weren’t just technical issues, but development issues as well. Sorry to get you all riled because I have a different opinion of the game than you do. You see it a 10, I see it an 8 or 8.5. #notsorry

    • Excellent job comparing a game that came out in early 2015 to a newly released game, Tyler.

      One other thing, why do you get so angry at everyone over everything? Maybe take a break from both the internet and video games. You’re going to have a stroke.

    • iamtylerdurden1

      Sadsnooze

      TW3 came out 4 years earlier but had twice the staff and budget. 250 in-house developers worked on TW3 with an 81 million dollar budget, whereas, Days Gone had 100 ppl working on it with around a 20 mill budget.

  • enough-motive734

    Loved Until Dawn! Can’t wait for this gaming experience.

  • VampiraPandini

    Hi! The game will have a couch co-op? I understand it’s has online multiplayer, but I wanna know if I can play in my couch with another friend. Thx!

    • KidGreengene

      Pandini, My understanding is it is Solo, Online Co-op with one other person, and Couch Co-op with a group of up to five people (each person takes on a character and you pass controllers around).

  • Playing this by myself, screw y’all. lol

    • KidGreengene

      Said like a true PlayStation fan :P

    • Haha

      Tru PS fan indeed. Haha

      I dont know if I want to watch streamers this game and wait for the 2nd in the series (not a fan of ghost ship stories), or just bite the bullet and get while on sale.

  • Really enjoyed Until Dawn and Hidden Agenda. The Inpatient was more of a miss than a hit because the 3d Rudder peripheral wasn’t available yet when that game was being made and PS Move controls for locomotion hinder game design and game play, but it was a decent attempt at doing this type of game for PSVR.

    Looking forward to Man of Medan. Already have it pre-ordered from the PSN store.

  • prakash_Adonize

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  • bammers_gurl

    I’m so excited for this honestly.

  • Dans_Macabre

    No one’s asked anywhere I’ve looked do you need 2 copies of this for the co-op or can your friend download a patch thing like a way out?
    I have American friends I want to play this with but they can’t afford it and I can’t invite around to my UK house ya know?

  • Can’t wait

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