Being of the first generation of gamers, it’s clear to see the industry has come a long way. Gaming has its roots in the 1940’s but it didn’t become a mainstream phenomenon until in the late 70’s with the birth of the first home gaming console Atari, which, luckily for me, my uncle had bought in the early 80’s. But my own first real experience with any gaming was with Commodore 64 on my father’s computer.
The long hours spent with my best friend playing Bubble Bobble left an unforgettable impression. For me, the first console I had at home was Nintendo NES 8-bit, followed by Sega Megadrive II, followed by Playstation (PS) 1, PS3 and now PS4. (Not to mention the handheld devices from the early Donkey Kong and Snoopy Tennis by Nintendo to Play Station Portable (PSP) in mid-2000’s. The handheld devices were soon forgotten as the size of television screens grew in our household.) This has lead to a life-long love with the video game industry.
Recently at a special preview event for an interactive horror game – The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan – which celebrates being the first of its kind in the genre of interactive multiplayer games, I got to explore a new strep forward in the genre. Held on the HMC Wellington in Temple (London), which seemed perfect for the theme of the game itself – a ghost ship in the South Pacific. The atmosphere may not have been as ghostly as the HMC Wellington currently functions as a maritime museum, but the anticipation of the participants was palpable.
In the room, there were several screens set for both Xbox and PS4 and at the end of the room, there was a large screen portraying the game’s name and logo. After the speech, all viewers grabbed a partner and sat opposite to each other and got to try this new experience. One acted as the host inviting the other to join on an online experience.
Coming from an art school background, for me, one of the largest wonders in the gaming industry still is the graphics. The Man of Medan is comparable to Uncharted 4. The live scans of actors portraying the characters are well detailed and each character shares the details of the person lending their voice. I keep thinking of the upcoming game Death Stranding from Hideo Kojima as they too have scanned their actors and therefore, I would dare to say it is on the same level.
The game itself will be playable and fully realised in an autoplay mode. It will be a single-player story, but you will be able to play with 4 friends, which they call a “movie night mode” and for each player, the experience will be different. But there is another option: you can play online in a shared story mode were 2 players can co-operate. As the game is an interactive horror game, one can expect some moments of jumping off your seat and an adrenaline rush here and there. Already in the first part of the game as you are introduced to controls and the story, I certainly found myself clutching onto the controller with clammy hands.
The prologue introduces a Second World War soldiers onshore enjoying their free time. After a few juggles here and there and some missed shots on the punching dummy, they soon went back to the ship. The ship is where the action begins and gives you a hint of what is to be expected in the actual storyline. Once the game fully begins you will be introduced to the four characters into present day but you don’t get to choose which one you play as. The characters get chosen by random and it is up to you to pick the dialogue which leads the story. Throughout the game, you may change characters which may be confusing at times especially if you are all together in the same space, but it doesn’t kill the mood in any possible way. You can also choose whether you wish to chat with your game partner or not. The voice chat, however, is turned off by default.
The most intriguing part of this game is that whilst you may be diving into the ocean your gaming partner may be on the boat or vice versa, which means your gaming experience will be entirely different to your partner. Also, the choice of dialogue can change the course of the game dramatically, which means you can play the game several times and still get a different experience each time even if you played by yourself.
The movie night mode introduces something different though. It offers five players to play the characters and you pass the control from one friend to the other. This can give a different kind of experience altogether and you may find it more convenient if you wish to have your friends in the room with you to stop you from getting too scared by yourself.
I was fully sucked into the game as I sat there for over an hour and just before stepping into the ghost ship the introduction play ended and all I can say is that I was left wanting
words Mari kortemaa
The game will be available for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC
Age rating is 16
Release date 30th of August