Kotaku UK is spending this week reporting live from the show floor at Gamescom, in Cologne, Germany, a frankly terrifyingly huge video game convention. Perhaps the only thing more terrifying than the size of the event, is one of the games we saw on the show floor.
The Dark Pictures Anthology is the name of a new collection of independent short form horror games, developed by Supermassive and published by Bandai Namco. According to a presentation given to press at Gamescom, the idea is for two of these stand alone horror games — each featuring completely new characters and stories disconnected from each other — every year once the series kicks off. The first game planned is titled Man of Medan.
I got the chance to go hands-on with a very short demo for Man of Medan, which is expected to be around a four to five hour experience at release, and the good news is that it feels every bit as tense and polished as the studio's previous horror experience, Until Dawn.
In Man of Medan, you explore the story of a group of teenagers who rent a boat and go out to sea on a diving trip. The group find a creepy sunken wreck, then end up exploring an even creepier abandoned World War II freighter that just so happens to be infested with the creepiest humanoid monsters that reach up out of very shallow puddles — puddles they definitely would not physically be able to hide in — and start grabbing at you. It's steeped in genre tropes, but is put together with the sort of reverence for those tropes that stops it feeling too predictable.
Gameplay wise, it's Until Dawn all over again, in that you explore 3D environments searching for clues, make choices about what risks to take, and get asked by a mysterious narrator to tell the game things about yourself that it can then use against you. There are button prompts to save yourself from harm, and it seems like death of characters is a real possibility.
It follows heavily from the Until Dawn playbook, and I am fine with that. It's a polished choice-based adventure game with a mystery to unravel, tough choices to make, and a love of horror tropes that shines through at every moment. While the demo I played was very short, I left feeling confident that Man of Medan would deliver a similarly enjoyable experience to Until Dawn, even if it will be in shorter, concentrated bursts.