The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan
Supermassive Games / Bandai Namco Entertainment
Genre: Survival Horror Adventure
While I haven’t written about it quite yet, I’ve been pretty upfront about the fact that Until Dawn is my favorite game on the Playstation 4 and ranks among my top horror games period. As someone who has been entertained by horror for over half of his life, this may sound surprising, but it should also speak to the merit of Supermassive Games and the project that they put together. Horror is not an easy genre to navigate, and they found an interesting way to make a compelling story, interesting cast, and tense mechanics to bring the story of Until Dawn to life.
With that, it should be less of a surprise that when I ran into the Namco Bandai booth at PAX last year, my first stop was to see The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, the company’s follow-up to their cinematic sleeper hit. While the demo was short, it got me excited to see how the game would play out and what the game would do to stand out from its predecessor. What I played, though, did nestle the game onto the list of my most anticipated titles from the show.
In interviews on The Dark Pictures and what exactly the anthology would entail, it has been explained that Man of Medan is the first of eight planned titles, two of which will be released each year meaning we will most likely see a title every six months. The weight being placed on the flagship game, in that case, is a great one then. While Until Dawn did surprisingly well, it seems reasonable to wonder just how well Man of Medan does to live up to Supermassive’s first game and to set up the remainder of a large undertaking for the developers.
As with most current games, I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers but be forewarned- there may be some bits here and there that could be considered “spoilery”. Continue reading
Genre: Survival Horror
In general, horror is a tricky genre to be successful in, despite there being quite a bit of leeway as to what “horror” can actually pertain to. Sometimes, horror can be encapsulated by the visuals of a game, making for some gruesome scenes or grisly environments that can offset a player’s senses. Action-horror can give a player weapons and defenses aplenty at their disposal only to let them whittle away as the game continues. Then there are games that don’t even give you weapons, offering either environment or a host of hiding spaces to avoid assailants as you attempt to escape the encroaching danger.
Whatever the specifics are, horror games usually have the primary goal of trying to scare the player. Jump scares can be cheap but effective and atmosphere and digital disorientation can leave a lasting impression but takes a thorough followthrough to pack a punch. There is a delicate balance involving tension, foreboding, art, and programming that has to go into these games for them to achieve their goal.
One game that made this attempt was Fatal Frame, the origin point of a series that never quite reached the popularity of some of its brethren but has a well-sized and devoted following. Touting a rare “based on a true story” label on its cover, the game left quite the impression on me growing up but I never finished the original title, opting instead to play through the second entry with a friend in high school over the course of a night one summer. I’ve had fond memories of the pieces of the series I’ve played in the past, so I decided it was time to buckle in and push through the game that started the series on its quiet course into cult reverence. Continue reading
DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark
Genre: Survival Action Horror
Certain games lend themselves to a convoluted and drawn-out mythos. Taking into account some certain popular horror games, you could easily find essays about Silent Hill’s background and characters. Personally, I’ve poured through a number of analyses about Rule of Rose and the symbolism within the world drawn up over the game’s events. While a lot of that is in the eye and explanations of the analyst behind the keyboard, most franchises are not foreign to the idea of adding more to an already existing mythos to explain mysteries or flesh out their universe. It’s what endears people to their work, after all.
The original DreadOut (which I reviewed a while back here) took its inspiration from some already existing mythology, sending a group of trapped teenagers and their teacher up against some of the specters and demons in Indonesian stories. The game didn’t just rest on this, as it had its own plot and story to tell, but the combination of existing and specifically created histories made for an interesting plot to watch unfold as the horrors played out.
Keepers of the Dark is not a straight sequel to DreadOut as one might be led to believe from the title and timeline. I say this not only informationally but as a bit of a warning for the discussion to follow since there is almost no way to discuss the game without referring to elements from the original DreadOut and possibly giving some spoilers. Acting more like a “missing chapter”, according to the game’s page on Steam, it sort of takes a quick sidestep from the plot of the original and has events that relate to it. If you haven’t played the original game and don’t want it ruined for you, feel free to turn away now. No hard feelings here, I promise!
Otherwise, take a peek at what I thought of this extra chapter from the DreadOut universe and how effective it may or may not have been as a standalone piece. Continue reading
The Ring: Terror’s Realm
Asmik Ace Entertainment/Infogrames
Genre: Action Survival Horror
In the early 2000s, American cinema found itself with a glut of remakes from the Japanese horror market. Plenty of countries borrow films from one another and put a bit of their own spin on them to put in their respective movie theaters, but it felt like there were a bunch of films that released here like The Grudge, One Missed Call, Pulse and probably most famously, The Ring.
The Ring kind of felt like it was the start of a popular movement at the time. Based on a series of books by Koji Suzuki- which are well worth reading if you have any interest- the film followed the first of them in which a young girl, Sadako Yamamura, died a terrible death and inflicted a curse to spread, killing those whom it afflicted seven days after contraction. The books explore how this plays out when humans become involved and set up for an interesting a relatively fresh horror angle to be played at.
Like many successful films, The Ring spawned its own media including a little known video game for the Sega Dreamcast called The Ring: Terror’s Realm. With the American remake arriving two years after the video game released, it’s understandable why the game fell to the wayside in the US. Still, there weren’t a ton of offerings on the Dreamcast in the horror genre so to fans of games like Illbleed and Resident Evil: Code Veronica, this probably felt like a dream come true to someone looking for a scare.
Like most films and games, though, those scares come at a cost. Read on to see exactly how expensive the frights of The Ring: Terror’s Realm are and whether it’s worth the price of admission. Continue reading
The Final Take
Hush Interactive/Forever Entertainment S.A.
Genre: Survival Horror
Sometimes, brevity is the kindest form of reference.
No, that’s not a saying. I just feel like it’s apt for some situations. In some cases, the less you say about something, the better. Sometimes, you have to refrain from saying something negative. Other times, there just isn’t enough to draw from to say much at all. In the case of The Final Take, it’s a bit more of the second reason than the first.
Given I just finished this game in a sitting, I wanted to at least pop some notes down so that if other folks run across this title, they may at least have some impressions before picking it up.