Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Dark Duo - Man of Medan - Part 1

It's that time of the year, where monsters, ghosts, and all forms of terrors begin to stalk the night and prey upon us mortals. And amidst all of that horror, some of us can undergo changes of our own.

Once upon a time, we were considered heroes. They called us "The Marvelous Duo". But that don't think we're so Marvelous anymore. We've seen things that have changed us, made us rethink our way of life.

The Marvelous Duo is dead: Long live the Dark Duo. Such is our fate, to lead five unsuspecting rubes in a game of life and death. We, along with the Curator of Stories, will be telling the tale of the Man of Medan, the first part of The Dark Pictures Anthology.

Those of you who played Until Dawn, as I have, will no doubt find themselves right at home here. Man of Medan, like its predecessor, is a loving homage to the horror genre in video game form. Further, it is the first game in a planned series of short-form games of a similar nature, that together form an anthology series.

As Chris noted in the session, this game is based on the story of an alleged shipwreck known as the Qurang Medan. While there's scant little evidence to suggest it's true, the tale persists of a World War 2-era ship whose crew had been discovered all dead, faces contorted in fear.

Guiding us though both this story, and presumably the rest of the anthology, is the Curator. The actor who plays him, Pip Torrens, turns in a phenomenal performance that honestly rivals that of Peter Stormare's role in Until Dawn. He sets the tone of the game with a commanding presence. Even more than that, his role is important because his scenes give the player some breathing room while still reminding them that they are an active participant whose decisions have a very real impact on proceedings.

My favorite parts of both this game and Until Dawn are how they play with horror tropes, and allow players the freedom to subvert or play straight those same tropes. In a normal horror story, the escape attempt by the brash idiot would go wrong or be sabotaged by ineptitude. While that can certainly happen, as it did in my original run, it doesn't have to. And players can certainly screw up without dooming themselves in the long run. There's a lot of room for the game to adjust to different world states, and explore the consequences of them, especially since it's not as long as a typical game.

I look forward both to seeing how Chris and I created the rest of this story, and in the next entry of this anthology.

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