Horror fans should care about the emergence of The Dark Pictures Anthology for a few reasons. Firstly, as many of us know, Supermassive Games were responsible for one of the most memorable story driven horrors of 2015, Until Dawn. Using the photorealism of what later became Horizon: Zero Dawn’s engine, Decima, to bolster the game’s filmic tendencies, Until Dawn was a perfect blend of tense decision making and interactivity. It was enough to give David Cage and his Heavy Rain team at Quantic Dream a run for their money in the department of interactive storytelling. Although, back when Until Dawn first blew us away, the only people it really got impress were those who owned a PlayStation 4.
So here is the second reason horror fans’ ears should prick up at the coming of The Dark Pictures Anthology: Supermassive are breaking away from Sony in order to release the new series of games on multiple platforms, now working under Bandai Namco to publish their work. This should be great news for all gaming horror fans as those who may have missed out on Until Dawn are likely aware of the talent in this studio, the hard work of which will soon be available to them for the first time.
Not only can they look forward to Man of Medan sometime in 2019, but Supermassive’s plan is also to release a new title as part of The Dark Pictures Anthology every six months thereafter. Such fast-paced release of their games could mean shorter, more bite-sized experiences with each outing but also that those experiences will be cheaper than your typical Triple A title. Supermassive Games have yet to reveal specifics on these details however. Since Supermassive have peeled away from Sony in order to do this, it is worth bearing in mind that they will no longer be using the spectacular Decima engine to create the games. Decima belongs to Killzone creators Geurrilla Games, who are a first party Sony owned studio. This is a shame as Decima gave so much to Until Dawn in terms of presentation. Supermassive will now be making use of – you guessed it – Unreal Engine 4.
For those who may not yet be aware, Man of Medan is about several young adventure seeking people going in search of mystery at sea. Sunken battleships lie in wait, supposedly offering up enticing antiques worth plenty of money. However, it’s not too long before things go awry and the gang are dealing all manner of supernatural unpleasantry. Like Until Dawn before it, Man of Medan will have the player choosing favourites among the characters, making decisions to either keep them alive or doom them to a watery grave. Can you get them all home alive?
Plenty of details have emerged since Man of Medan’s reveal at this year’s Gamescom. Firstly, the game will use fixed camera positions as we controls characters through the story. Until Dawn did the same thing and, unless in exceptional cases, is a fairly rare decision for developers to make these days. However, in the delivery of horror, a fixed camera can pay dividends when figuring out how best to deliver scares. It also adds to the cinematic nature of Supermassive’s games. Man of Medan is also going to be considerable shorter than Until Dawn. Four hours shorter, that is. Where Until Dawn delivered around nine hours of horror to the average player, Man of Medan is offering up something closer to five. Still – not a bad run time for a game that will have a successor in just six months down the line. More intriguing however, is that Supermassive has announced Man of Medan’s decision making has deeper consequences and leads to a more complex network of story outcomes than Until Dawn did. To compress that into a shorter game speaks to an experience that could be all the more intense as a result.
Man of Medan is without a doubt the pleasant surprise of the month. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and stick around at KeenGamer for future coverage of The Dark Pictures Anthology.