Back in August we got our first glimpse of Man of Medan, the first title in an anthology horror series called The Dark Pictures Anthology from Supermassive Games, the people behind Until Dawn and The Inpatient. In an interview over at True Achievements, Tom Heaton, the game’s director, sat down to talk about the game, the series, and how the studio is approaching scaring players.
After the name and trailer were revealed, it was clear that the game is inspired by the Ourang Medan legend about a World War II ghost ship, that shipwrecked suspiciously in the Pacific ocean. When it was discovered, corpses were found frozen in anguish with no sign of how they died. Heaton confirms that this is the latch point for the game but that since the details are vague, it makes a great fit for telling their own story using that as a starting point.
“The Ourang Medan is an inspiration for that and we’ve certainly acquainted ourselves with the myth, but it’s really our story from that point on. Part of the reason is the myth is very vague and you don’t really know much about it. There’s lots of different accounts, so we’ve just run with it.”
Heaton goes on to say that when planning the games and their stories, the team have been exploring 39 horror subgenres including slasher, ghost ship and haunted house. In addition, for each of the three planned games in the anthology, something in the real world acts as the anchor to give players something to research, to think about, be it urban legend, folk lore, or actual historical events. These little details will broil in their brains before the game comes out, beginning the journey of scaring players.
“It’s quite difficult to get people to “scared” — you have to have them for quite a long time, like a film. A scary film is scary the whole time. It builds and builds and creates an atmosphere. Making a game like this is about building long term uneasy tension and it takes a little bit of time. We have to hold players in that place and let them anticipate what’s going to go wrong.”
The game revolves around five playable characters: four friends on a holiday in the South Pacific seeking out the wreck, and the captain of their ship. Of course, things go wrong and, similar to Until Dawn, characters can survive the adventure or perish at the hands of bad decisions and terrifying events. Heaton says that they were surprised by how important the relationships between characters were to players in Until Dawn and that they have taken that on board for the development of The Dark Pictures Anthology.
Heaton also gives us an idea of how long each game will last, saying that each game will be about four hours in length, with extras and secrets adding to that number for completionists. He also confirms that each of the three games are currently in development and that each is going to be very different, while retaining similar core gameplay mechanics.
Man of Medan is looking pretty awesome and is set to come to PS4, Xbox One and PC sometime in 2019. Check out some gameplay footage below.