Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Man of Medan

Go To
You think you can scavenge down there and it makes no difference, but every single thing you bring back has an essence. It's like a ghost you invite to the surface.
The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan, also known simply as Man of Medan, is an Adventure Game slash Survival Horror developed by Supermassive Games and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It is the first game in The Dark Pictures Anthology, a series of horror games that share a framing device but which are otherwise standalone. It was released on August 30th, 2019 for PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.

The story focuses on a group of American adventurers traveling to the South Pacific in search of the wreck of a B-29 Superfortress that crashed just after the end of World War II's War in Asia and the Pacific. While successful in locating the wrecked plane at the bottom of the seabed, they soon end up dealing with supernatural forces onboard a Ghost Ship dating from the same time period. In addition, the group comes under threat from Ruthless Modern Pirates along the way.

The game is followed by Little Hope, which was released worldwide October 30, 2020.


This game provides examples of:

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Olsen and his fellow pirates ambush the Duke of Milan in the night, making the protagonists their hostage while demanding the location of the Manchurian Gold, which Olsen thinks is actual gold.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The player can control all of the protagonists in the story, depending on the outcomes of the choices they've made so far.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: There's an option to disable the timeout for the Quick Time Event sequences, allowing you to press the relevant buttons at your leisure instead of being caught off-guard by something that pops up and fails in one second with zero warning.
  • Anyone Can Die: As in anyone, from all the playable protagonists, even to the initially-antagonistic pirates depending on the player's choices.
  • Advertisement:
  • Artistic License – Geography: The main menu posits the prologue taking place in the South China Sea, but the ship's point of origin is identified as Manchuria (now known today as Heilongjiang), which is bordered by the Yellow Sea, and the ship itself ends up in The South Pacific near French Polynesia.
  • Asshole Victim: Once you find out in other endings about the US military's priority of keeping the Medan's contents a secret (especially the ones where they just kill the main characters), you won't feel so bad for the soldiers sent in response to the distress call made onboard being mauled to death by the surviving pirate Danny in one stinger.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Fliss' outfit exposes her stomach through the entire game. Julia's diving gear as well, then through the rest of the game, she has a pink T-shirt that is tied in a knot to show her stomach.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The entire game. Everything supernatural happening is all in the heads of the various characters, and so the player has to figure out what is real and what isn't. The only actual threats are the three pirates and the general condition of the ship.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The pirates and the ghosts onboard the ship constantly threaten and depending on your choices will come close to killing or outright kill the main characters. Subverted when it's revealed that the ghosts are non-existent, and the pirate leader Olsen turns out to be the biggest threat throughout the story.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: The pair who finds the rebreathers may initially end up debating whether to take them or not, as these can potentially be used to save themselves or just slow them down for being too heavy to carry. When they step out of the room, Olsen will come chasing at them, and the protagonists are indeed burdened by the weight of the rebreathers, evident in some Quick Time Event prompts. A hallucinating Junior then meets the two in the next room, threatening to kill them. The rebreathers will come in handy at this point, so that you could convince Junior to remove "the mist" inside of him.
  • But Thou Must!: A minor one in the prologue. At the fortune teller, no matter whether the player chooses the dragon tile or the bamboo tile, the final fortune will be the same.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: One ending has the protagonists being rescued by arriving U.S. soldiers, only to be executed by them because the contents of the ship are top-secret. In another, the soldiers spare them, but have them arrested.
  • Closed Circle: First, the characters are all on a ship in the South China Sea. Then they're boarded by pirates who keep them tied up. Then a massive storm hits, and then they're all forced to leave their ship when the pirates take a crucial component and bring them on board the Ourang Medan.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: When the protagonists are kept hostage by the pirates during a stormy night, the boys can decide to escape by breaking a window, timing the act with the sound of thunder so that the pirates won't notice a thing.
  • Creepy Child: Joe sees a kid laughing while running around the ship, seemingly stalking him. When he confronts the kid in a locker, Joe dies from a sudden heart attack after the kid shows his Nightmare Face.
  • Character Development: Similar to Until Dawn, the player's decisions can affect how each of the characters interact with one another, as even the slightest options change some lines of dialogue if not drastically affecting the plot.
  • Chase Scene: You'll be fleeing from ghosts, monsters or fellow humans a lot through an interactive Quick Time Event. In reality, there's no such thing as ghosts or monsters - All of the people trapped in the ship may end up hallucinating one of their own for a "supernatural" malevolent entity. Subverted in certain scenes where you are given the option to directly confront your pursuer instead.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Certain Dialogue Tree options would make you choose whether to pick up a certain item or not, and such choices could affect how the story would play and progress in specific situations:
    • The rebreather in the radio room is needed if you want to convince Junior that you can help clean the "mist" inside of him.
  • Dead Star Walking: Zigzagged. Shawn Ashmore is easily the most recognizable member of the voice cast, as well as the only 100% Ink-Suit Actor in the bunch. Conrad is the first character who can die (and due to the ease of screwing up a couple of important QTEs required to keep him alive, many players do lose him very early on during their first play-through), but it's also possible for him to live to the end, and he can even be the sole survivor in a couple of endings.
  • Deadly Gas: Manchurian Gold is revealed to be a powerful hallucinogen late in the game. Played with in that the gas isn't instantly lethal, but it causes hallucinations and violent tendencies, and can apparently cause stress-induced heart attacks in high doses.
  • Decoy Protagonist: You spend a good deal of time playing as Joe and Charlie in the tutorial segment and prologue levels of the game. They both die in the haunted ship while the actual protagonists are introduced after some Time Skip.
  • Dialogue Tree: The game shows a stylized, pared-back take on the idea, with the player choosing between a colder, more sensible response associated with the "head", or a warmer, more emotional one associated with the heart. There's literally a brain pictogram on one side and a heart one on the other, with a naval compass flitting between the two until you make your decision. Taking a cue from Telltale, you can opt to say nothing.
  • Dies Wide Open:
    • One of the dead bodies seen in demo has a gaping mouth open all the way in horror, and fully open eyes... with eyeballs that are no longer there, leaving wide open eyelids to reveal the empty sockets.
    • This can also happen to most of the protagonists as well.
  • Distant Prologue: The prologue takes place during the 1940s, post-World War II.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The game repeatedly employs the occult as a motif, but the haunted ship is infested with a hallucinogenic bioweapon, not actual ghosts.
  • Doppelgänger: Julia's Manchurian Gold-induced hallucination makes her see a second Alex chasing her and the real Alex. It's implied the second "Alex" is actually Olson, due to his deep voice and visible tattoos.
  • Dwindling Party:
    • Joe and Charlie in the prologue separate at one point. While you get to play as Joe in this segment, you can find Charlie's corpse later on, and Joe dies via heart attack from seeing a ghost child. On the opposite end, Charlie can die from encountering a ghost of the Chinese fortune teller..
    • The main cast would split into groups or explore alone as the story progresses, and they either survive or die depending on the player's actions.
  • Enemy Rising Behind:
    • When both Alex and Julia fall into the water, both are surprised that another figure also rises near them, and Julia saw it as someone looking exactly like the real Alex.
    • The blonde ghost that Conrad encounters. He just gets distracted for a while, then the woman slowly comes closer behind him, slowly revealing her Nightmare Face.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The three pirates just came to rob and take the passengers of the Duke of Milan hostage for some wealth, only resorting to actual violence when the protagonists decide to fight back by force. Even when on the ghost ship, the pirates are just as equally paranoid of the situation, expressing the desire to leave the forsaken place should you encounter them. Among the three, Junior has at least a vague understanding of the strange phenomena and can pull a Heel–Face Turn if you can help him calm down.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Fliss wears only a tank-top all throughout the stormy night. Conrad, Brad, and Fliss were all barefoot even though they are walking around in a rusty, dirty ship. Justified since nobody was prepared for the accident that transferred them to the old ship.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In Conrad's encounter with the blonde woman-turned hideous monster, he begins to run just as numerous whispering voices speak "Connie". Then a female voice becomes clearer as he climbs up the ship's exterior. A few moments later, it is revealed that Conrad is under the effects of the Manchurian Gold and is just hallucinating Fliss for a monster. Attentive players can already know that the "monster" chasing Conrad is actually an ally, since "Connie" is an Affectionate Nickname given to him, especially by Julia.
  • Fixed Camera: Similar to Until Dawn, camera perspective changes depending on the current room.
  • Foreshadowing: Quite a bit about what's truly going on aboard the ship.
    • During the 1940's prologue, lightning strikes the ship and travels down to several wooden crates, which start leaking some sort of fog. This is the chemical weapon known as Manchurian Gold.
    • The theme song being more digital and metal compared to Until Dawn's opera sounding one isn't just artistic. It's a hint that everything is much more man made and artificial, including the supernatural elements.
    • At a certain point, it becomes clear that some of the characters are seeing things that the others aren't. A notable scene that highlights this revelation occurs when the pirate Junior rambles about a "mist" that makes him agitated about seeing monsters or "people turning". This is because they're all hallucinating under the effects of Manchurian Gold.
    • Many of the dead soldiers and servicemen on the ship have no obvious wounds, and some even look like they were literally scared to death. This is because of the terrifying hallucinations induced by Manchurian Gold.
    • Towards the end of the game, you can find a dead soldier wearing a gas mask and carrying instructions about what to do in the event of a gas leak.
    • After Fliss discovers the Manchurian Gold and the "ballroom" turns into the cargo hold, the "spell book" that was there turns into a book on handling biological agents.
  • Genre Shift: From a thriller involving Ruthless Modern Pirates to a supernatural horror film involving ghosts and zombies. And then, once the latter are revealed not to be real, back again to the former.
  • Genre Savvy: Danny realizes, quickly, that really bad shit is occurring on the ship.
  • Ghost Ship: The main setting of the game is an abandoned, derelict World War II-era troop transport converted into a cargo ship.
  • Glamour:
    • The ghost of the blonde white woman, if Conrad didn't escape, initially looks stunning, but at the last second, she reveals her true form of being a ghoulish, disheveled hag. She is actually Fliss (or Brad if Fliss already died), but Conrad is hallucinating.
    • From the latest trailer, it becomes pretty apparent that the "ballroom" shown is nothing more than a spectacular illusion cast by the malevolent spirits there (revealed to be hallucinations induced by a leaked chemical weapon), as the ship the game is set in is a troop transport, not a luxury liner. As such, when the illusion fades, it's revealed to be a cargo hold full of trucks, weapon and ammunition crates, and the corpses of dead US servicemen.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: One of the possible deaths shared among some of the protagonists and Olson. If you request your partner to pull the lever to the door but fail the Quick Time Event to push Olson out of the way, your character will be split in half by the door alongside him.
  • Hallucinations: The ghosts, monsters or zombies encountered in the ship are merely products of this, as a result of the chemical leaking inside. Given that there's nobody else in the ship at that time, everyone may end up mistaking a real person for a monster physically chasing them.
  • He Knows Too Much: Any endings where you have the US military pick up the surviving cast members will have the soldiers either kill them or detain them for knowing about Manchurian Gold.
  • Hint System: Certain paintings will preview upcoming events or glimpses of Bad Ends when interacted with.
  • Hope Spot: The U.S. military. You are NOT getting a happy ending if they find you on the Medan. They are not your saviors. They have a vested interest in keeping the Medan's contents secret, and will either kill you outright or have you arrested to cover it up.
  • Horror Host: The Crown (2016)'s Pip Torrens plays the sardonic yet helpful Curator, who can provide you hints if you accept them to the plot of the game. He will also provide commentary between acts, which can change depending on the choices you make and who lived or died at any point. If every single character is killed, the Curator suddenly loses his usual stoic demeanor and begins openly cackling at you for how badly you failed, even asking if you did it on purpose.
  • Idiot Ball: A twofer with the Jerkass Ball. Given that certain paths allow Conrad to prove fairly resourceful and intelligent, his insulting behavior in front of the fishermen seems to serve no purpose besides needlessly aggravating them. Note that his decision in this scene is automatic behavor beyond the player's control. The three men whom Conrad throws money at are, in fact, pirates who later return to ambush them in the night.
  • Informed Attribute: When the protagonists are introduced before boarding the Duke of Milan, their names are accompanied by an adjective describing their general personalities.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Based on Alex and Julia’s state of dress, it seems the pirates attacked the ship either while they were in the middle of having sex or right after.
  • Jump Scare: Quite prevalent for a horror game:
    • Played straight for the various ghosts and random shadows all of which are hallucinations that pop out of nowhere. These instances are usually accompanied by a Scare Chord:
    • Invoked in the beginning when Brad narrates a ghost story to his friends. As he times his scream with the thunder and lightning, the camera also zooms in to his face.
  • Laughing Mad: In the Curator's Cut, or Shared Story mode, Olson does this when potentially killing Alex via skull-bashing.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After the prologue, the game introduces the Curator who then serves as the host or guide, telling the proper story as if it is written in a book, while the player themselves is presented in the first-person perspective, listening to him. Major shifts to the story will then bring the player back to the Curator, who comments on the player's progression, while giving them advice on the way like an Exposition Fairy.
    • The Curator tells you early on to look for pictures for clues, as this is actually a gameplay mechanic made as the Hint System.
    • When the first horrific encounter happens, the Curator muses that things have seemingly gone for the "supernatural".
    • Like the totems from Until Dawn, the players can have characters stare at pictures of ships in distress to get hints on possible outcomes. Unlike that game where the characters don't comment on them, Fliss will question "Why do I even have this?" after the player gets a tip.
  • Lemony Narrator: The Curator takes great delight in subtly mocking you.
  • The Many Deaths of You: The playable characters can die over 60 ways. Including Joe and Charlie in the prologue. Even the Big Bad himself, Olson, can be crushed to death by a sliding door or overdosed on Manchurian Gold.
  • Mexican Standoff: The party's encounter with Olson's gang on the Duke of Milan has one of these.
  • Morton's Fork: Whether you choose to ignore/hide from or confront the monster that haunts either Joe or Charlie in the prologue, they will both die anyway.
  • Multiple Endings: Like Until Dawn, you can ensure that Everybody Lives, Everybody Dies, or anywhere in between. Unlike Until Dawn, there are multiple ways to achieve the former. Just because you made sure all playable characters survive (and potentially Junior), it doesn't guarantee a happy ending for everybody, should you fail to do certain actions such as retrieving the distributor cap or have Conrad escape, which can lead to some unexpected Downer Endings.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A rendition of "O, Death" is played over the opening credits... just as in Until Dawn (though it's a heavy metal version this time around, as opposed to Until Dawn's more dark folk sound). There's also a hip-hop version for the ending credits.
    • The face of the ghost woman who chased Conrad becomes progressively hideous before finally becoming a Wendigo.
  • Nightmare Face: Part of the formula for a Jump Scare in this game shows some seemingly-innocent figures suddenly changing their face into more horrific ones.
  • Not Enough to Bury: When the group encounter the casket room, one of them is noticeably smaller. Conrad riffs it must be for a kid. But as can read later, it's actually a GI who got turned into hamburger.
  • Not Quite Dead: As expected, the gameplay demo soon shows that the dead bodies are not content to just lay idle where they died. Then, though, Fliss manages to struggle against them for long enough for the "bodies" to dissolve into seawater, implying that these were ghosts after all, just more realistic, non-glowy ones that look no different from the bodies that spawned them.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: For both the playable segments of the World War II-era and the Time Skip, there is nobody else onboard the SS Ourang Medan apart from those recently transferred to it. The ship's previous passengers died and the only things that can suddenly scare the player are merely hallucinations. Most of the time, the rooms may even be devoid of background music.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: If Conrad fails to escape on the motor boat and pushes his captors too far, it can result in one of the kidnappers shooting Julia in the head, leaving her crumpled and bleeding on the floor of the boat. Unusually for this game, though, it doesn't prove fatal - by the next scene she's regained consciousness and is being bandaged up by Alex, who explains that the bullet merely grazed her. All things considered, she seems remarkably fine.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Danny, the third pirate, gets stabbed in the gut by the pirate captain after the captain becomes fully crazed from the gas towards the end of the game. He's left for dead, but one ending shows him recovering and stumbling through the ship before attacking some arriving U.S. soldiers in a gas-crazed rage.
  • Pinball Protagonist: The protagonists are forced by pirates to visit the ship, and every choice that is made is a reaction to their situation, rather than being proactive.
  • Precision F-Strike: Uttered by the pirate Danny in the gameplay demo once he begins to realize what's up on the ship.
    Danny: This fucking place's cursed.
  • Press X to Not Die: Quick-Time Event sequences mostly determine the survivability of the cast on crucial situations.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The interludes in The Curator's office use snippets from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem, and by "snippets" we mean "various chunks stuck together at random." For instance, the second chapter is capped by the second half of mm.46, and the full length of mm.47 & 48, of I. Introitus, before looping round to the front of the piece (instead of moving on to the Kyrie fugue), and then jumps at some point to the passage right before it started, ending with the Half Cadence that forms the first half of mm.46!
  • Red Herring:
    • Early on, Julia can get injured while diving with Alex. She is later intimidated by a shark approaching them, but it is a reef shark and isn't interested in them anyway.
    • In the "ballroom" area, Fliss finds a book detailing a magic/satanic ritual. This leads to nothing, as there is nothing supernatural aboard the ship. It becomes a Subverted Trope however: When things turn back to normal, it's revealed that this book is actually about biological warfare, which is an important clue later on.
  • The Reveal: Manchurian Gold is the codename of a chemical weapon that causes terrifying hallucinations among those who breathe it in, and all of the supernatural elements on the game have been the main characters hallucinating.
  • Rotating Protagonist: Each player will cycle through multiple characters over the course of the gameplay. They will change depending on who lives or dies in the story.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: The main antagonists of the first half of the game are a trio of pirates. During the second half, they're still very much a threat, but are in competing position with the ghosts. Except, not really. The pirates, especially their leader, are threats throughout.
  • Sequel Hook: The game ends with a teaser for the next game in the anthology, Little Hope.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: At the end of the prologue, the captain of the ship tries to radio for backup, while the lightning strikes reveal the shadow of a tall entity with long arms entering the room.
  • Shout-Out:
    • After Olson takes over the Duke of Milan, one of his lines say "I am the captain now".
    • In one path, Alex hallucinates that a rat has just gruesomely burst out of his stomach, like a Chestburster.
  • Stealth Pun: The titles of the premonitions(minus "A Little Hope") are all references to old sayings used in relation to boats and/or sailing.
    • "Loose Cannon", which shows Junior shooting himself, not only references the gun, but it also means an unstable and dangerous person, which reflects Junior's situation later in the game.
    • "In The Offing", which shows Alex's potential death, is a term which means a glimpse of the future or a possible future. "Offing" is also a term for killing someone.
  • The Stinger: Unique in that you can get different post-credit scenes (even multiple scenes in one run), depending on your choices.
  • Stock Footage: Although there are various ways to fail at Quick-Time Events in the same scene or location, most of the characters' death animations for that scene are re-used, but will some alterations.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The protagonists spend the day in the Duke of Milan, while several shots can focus on the impending thunderstorm. At one point, Fliss can pick up the binoculars, and the first thing she sees are the dark clouds from a distance. The storm itself is crucial to the plot since it sent everyone onboard the Duke of Milan to be trapped in the now-risen Ghost Ship.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: Some documents in the ship can be investigated, revealing what happened in the past when it was still operational.
  • Take a Third Option: In certain dialogue paths, the player is given the option to do/say nothing, and it is usually placed on top of the compass interface along the two opposing choices placed on the lower-left and lower-right corners.
    • In the last section of the game, Alex will hallucinate that a rat is bursting out of his chest while he's being confronted by a two headed skeletal mutant, and the game prompts you to stab the rat or the mutant. This being a quicktime event, it is entirely possible to choose neither by letting the clock run out. This is the correct choice, since stabbing the rat will kill Alex and the "mutant" is actually Julia, and attacking it/her will kill her.
  • Title In: A subtitle displays information such as the place and time whenever the scene or setting changes.
  • Total Party Wipe: Getting everyone killed even earns the player an Achievement/Trophy.
  • Two Rights Make a Wrong: One possible ending. If Conrad escapes and the distributor cap is retrieved (either of which will prevent the military from finding the group), Conrad will return with the Coast Guard with no one on the Ourang Medan to find, and no knowledge of the gas. The last cutscene is of Conrad hallucinating, with his fate left unclear.
  • Urban Legend: Based on the legend of the Ourang Medan, a Ghost Ship that supposedly vanished in 1947, then was discovered by the crew of another ship who found the ship's crew all dead under unknown circumstances. It's unknown whether or not the story has any basis in truth or not.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: In the Chinese Market prologue level, you can ask the Fortune Teller what is to come for Joe. His response? "Doom".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In one of the endings, Brad (who wasn't in any danger) is simply not present, and Julia and Fliss escape the ship alone.
  • What the Hell, Player?: The chapter transition scenes with The Curator can have shades of this, as he berates the player if the character deaths rack up. If everyone dies, The Curator will ask the player if they are doing it on purpose.
  • The Window or the Stairs: If you successfully flee from the pursuing monster in a Chase Scene, Conrad will still be cornered on a ledge with the monster just a few meters away. The player will then be given the option to jump or confront it. The only way to save him at this point is to "Confront" the creature, at which point the hallucination wears off, revealing that the one chasing him is an ally and not a monster. If the player makes Conrad jump instead, he will fall to his death.