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The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan Xbox Series X|S Review


Something occurred to me during my latest playthrough of Man of Medan: How would I know if I was playing the new chapter that recently released alongside the Xbox Series X|S update? I’m on my fourth overall playthrough now and still experiencing new things. So how will I know the new stuff isn’t just something that was in there in the first instance? 

But that is the beauty of Man of Medan; each playthrough is unique. And with the new Xbox Series X|S optimised update, now is the perfect time to revisit it. Or play it for the first time.

Man of Medan is the first game in The Dark Pictures Anthology. This, along with Little Hope, House of Ashes and the upcoming The Devil in Me represent the first season of the anthology, and Man of Medan is a brilliant opening to proceedings.

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As is customary with Supermassive Games horror offerings, no scary trope is off the table. And Man of Medan takes on the ghost ship, with their unique spin on proceedings. A group of handsome young adults are keen to do a bit of diving in the South Pacific. After following some rumours of an unknown WWII plane wreckage, they head off to find some treasure. However, a group of modern pirates board their ship, demanding treasure of their own by robbing the group. But, after learning of something called Manchurian Gold along with some coordinates close by, they decide to take their new prisoners and go exploring for treasure.

The coordinates take them to an abandoned WWII ship. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that things go badly wrong as soon as the group set foot on it.

All this is overseen by a man called The Curator. This omnipotent being will be your guide through this journey – and all others in The Dark Pictures Anthology – watching your story unfold. He will pop up from time to time to either give you helpful hints, warn you of impending danger, and even tell you if something has gone wrong. He is as mysterious as the stories themselves. I hope when the anthology is all wrapped up we learn the answers to the questions swirling around about this enigmatic being.

This interactive horror story allows players to choose their own adventure. All the crewmates can die or survive based on your choices. There is also a mystery to solve whilst on the ship and doing so may give you a huge upper hand in making sure they all survive. Or help you in killing them all, which is almost as fun.

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Returning to Man of Medan also highlights the many connections to the other titles in the anthology. Very much standalone releases, returning faces, easter eggs to other titles and more remind you that these titles are part of a bigger picture.

However, also on returning and you can see that Man of Medan, at least graphically, is a little bit behind the others. Character models look a little off, a little bit uncanny valley.

And from a technical point of view, the frequent loading times from the initial release have been sped up substantially with the new Series X|S optimisation. They still remain frequent as the game frantically switches between subtle differences in scenes based on your decisions, but they are very quick now. They tend to be more frequent than in Little Hope however, and can spoil the momentum.

Also on my latest playthrough, my Bearings screen – where you can view exactly how your decisions affect the story – was not showing any information. Instead it just presented me with the loading symbol when selecting a Bearing, but then nothing ever loaded up.

That’s the stuff that still remains like a bad hangover after a night drinking on choppy waters, but what has been added in? There’s obviously the new chapter, the headline inclusion across both Man of Medan and Little Hope’s Xbox Series X|S updates. This new inclusion occurs towards the very end of the game when Olson is running around with the sledgehammer and distributor cap. This new chapter can even have you setting the ship on fire. Just make sure you grab the distributor cap from Olson when you can.

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Other new features include better accessibility options such as dyslexia friendly font, subtitle size and colour options and the ability to change how you interact with some of the QTEs. You can also choose whether to run Man of Medan in Performance or Quality mode from the graphics options.

The first game in The Dark Pictures Anthology, Man of Medan remains one of the stronger options. It is far more replayable than Little Hope with many more unpredictable jumpscares. Man of Medan is a game that toys with the characters you play as, but also toys with you as the player. There will be times you think you’ve seen something unusual, and the reality is, you probably actually did. The mystery stays intriguing until the penny drops, but even then it doesn’t falter as a story, breathlessly continuing on until you reach one of the many conclusions. 

If you have yet to play any of The Dark Pictures Anthology games, there is no better place to start than at the very beginning with Man of Medan; even more so now that it is optimised for Xbox Series X|S.

Board the new-gen optimised Man of Medan via the Xbox Store

Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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