As a follow-up to Supermassive Games’ 2015 hit Until Dawn, Man of Medan falls short in some key areas. Where the ambition of Until Dawn extended throughout the experience, from the storytelling to the acting to the gameplay, Man of Medan looks to tell a creepy story with tough choices and dynamic characters. But even if it stumbles, there is still something compelling about Man of Medan’s story that makes it worth seeing through to the end.
However, some Man of Medan players may have questions about what happened in the game or how things fit together. Supermassive Games does a good job of going out of its way to explain things – almost to a fault – but there are going to be those with questions.
World War II Prologue
Man of Medan opens during World War II, as two soldiers return to their ship, the Ourang Medan, after an expedition in China. The ship loads up a mysterious set of crates that are tightly secured and will be closely guarded. Players learn through collectibles that the boxes were put in a Cargo Hold that was off limits.
Unfortunately, the Ourang Medan runs into some rough weather during its sea travels and lightning strikes one of the crates, releasing a green gas. This green gas them permeates the ship and the soldiers began dying one by one.
What is Manchurian Gold?
When Man of Medan moves forward to the present and its main characters, players learn that the crates were holding Manchurian Gold. It’s not treasure but is instead a biochemical weapon that China had developed for use during World War II.
Essentially, anyone exposed to the gas of Manchurian Gold has a psychotic break and starts to hallucinate until they either foolishly kill themselves or others or die from a heart attack. In the game, these deaths look like the characters are being scared to death but it is really just a biological response to the Manchurian Gold.
Although the Manchurian Gold was released over 70 years ago, the Ourang Medan is still riddled with the gas. So when Alex Brad, Julia, Conrad, Fliss, and their pirate captors board the ship they are immediately exposed and eventually start hallucinating.
For Supermassive Games, the Manchurian Gold presents an opportunity to player with players’ minds a little bit and make them second-guess what they are seeing. Throughout the game each character will have numerous visions but those can all be explained by the exposure to the Manchurian Gold. Some characters also gain clarity by limiting their exposure to the gas either through the use of the Rebreather or going outside.
How to Save All Characters
With most or all of the characters hallucinating, it was going to be difficult to get them to safety, but the key is to acknowledge that nothing is real. The Dark Pictures Anthology Curator in Man of Medan tells the player numerous times that nothing is what it seems, and this serves as a hint to be skeptical of everything. There is a key moment wherein a character looks like a monster and another character has a vision of a rat bursting from their chest, and if they react to either they will lose one of the group. But by not reacting, the group will get hold of the distributor cap, repair Fliss’ boat, and escape to safety.
However, if the group signals for help via the radio, the military will arrive and either kill the kids or imprison them. The only true way to survive the Ourang Medan is using the cap and not succumbing to the visions. Any other choice will result in a bad ending, but the best ending in Man of Medan sees the group riding off to safety.
The Ourang Medan Was a Real Ghost Ship
Although the events of the game are completely fictional, the SS Ourang Medan was an actual ship with its own urban legend. The story goes that the Ourang Medan, which translates to Man of/from Medan, crew died under suspicious circumstances and was dubbed a ghost ship in the late ‘40s.
There are many different theories about what happened to the Ourang Medan crew, including that the ship picked up Japanese chemical weapons that were stored in China and they were accidentally let loose. Clearly, developer Supermassive Games was a fan of this theory and used it to create its own creepy story.
It’s unclear if the next game in the Dark Pictures Anthology, which is called Little Hope, will put a spin on an urban legend or tell a completely original tale, but fans can get a taste for the game via the Little Hope teaser trailer. If nothing else, the experience is sure to be filled with tough choices and a creepy atmosphere.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.