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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan is an interactive horror adventure, available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows-based PCs. Players follow the story of a group of five young characters as they find themselves trapped on a haunted ghost ship. Players control character interactions and make key decisions that affect the course of the overall narrative. The game is a horror tale, with a lot of disturbing imagery, death, blood, and gore shown throughout. Character dialogue has quite a bit of strong profanity, references to alcohol and drugs, and occasional sexual innuendo. The game is a self-contained story, though it's also the first part of a anthology series, with recurring characters and common threads planned throughout.
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What's it about?
THE DARK PICTURES ANTHOLOGY: MAN OF MEDAN is the first entry in series of interactive horror stories, each a self-contained adventure with multiple branching plots where the story unfolds based on the choices of you and your friends. Man of Medan opens with a young group in the middle of the ocean, seeking out adventure while exploring sunken relics. After an encounter with brutal pirates attempting to kidnap them in the midst of a heavy storm, the group escapes to a surprising refuge: an abandoned ship long thought lost at sea, now home only to the corpses of its forgotten crew and passengers. The group quickly discovers, though, that this is a "ghost ship" in more ways than one. Restless spirits and dark forces seek bloody retribution against these living stowaways. Now the group's fate lies in your hands. Take control of the story, making key decisions at a moment's notice. You can play alone or join up with friends in either "Movie Night" or "Shared Story" modes, where the choices made may not be yours. Can you survive the storm and escape with your life? Or will you join the rest of the crew in death, adding yet another chapter to the Curator's terrifying tale?
Is it any good?
Whether it's a ghost story told around a campfire or a horror movie in a darkened theatre, there's nothing quite like getting sucked into a terrifying tale. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan takes that feeling to a whole new level by giving players control of how the narrative unfolds. Instead of pointlessly yelling at a person on the screen "Don't go in there," you get to choose their actions … and live (or die) with the consequences. It's interesting to see how different relationships develop between characters and how their personalities take shape based on decisions, both minor and major. Before long, you can't help but second guess your choices, especially when something that seemed insignificant earlier in the story leads to the death of one of the main characters and you wonder just where you went wrong. That's enough anxiety and tension on its own, but add in the horror elements, where the shadows lay host to unspeakable evils and death lurks around every corner, and you wind up with plenty of nightmare fuel to keep you awake for nights.
While Man of Medan has many different story branches to explore, the single-player experience can get repetitive fairly quickly. After playing through the story once on your own, it can be difficult to go through the same motions again and again. That's where the multiplayer steps in. Movie Night allows up to five players to join in, each controlling the actions and decisions of one of the five main characters, changing how the story unfolds significantly. But it's the Shared Story that really shines and adds replayability to the game. Here, two players connect online, each viewing the story from different characters' points of view. Oftentimes, the players are separated from one another, though their choices still can affect each other in unexpected ways. Something you think might be helpful to your teammate might actually lead to their death. You might even find yourself abandoned by your partner, who chooses to save his own skin rather than lend a helping hand. Admittedly, it can be frustrating to feel like you've done everything right and still lose based on the unseen actions of others, but that's also the way life can go sometimes. And here at least, there's always the option of one more playthrough.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about choice and consequence. How can the snap decisions you make in the moment affect events down the road?
What's the appeal of being scared for fun? Does the interactive nature of gaming make stories like Man of Medan more or less frightening than more traditional storytelling, such as films?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Bandai Namco
- Release date: August 30, 2019
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes
- Last updated: September 5, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.