When Until Dawn was first announced, many have laughed it straight out of the building. As most believed that a third-person, teenage slasher horror, would be nothing more than a whisper in the wind. Which would not only be ignored, but also largely forgotten. But those who shared this belief, were ultimately left with egg on their faces, as Until Dawn has not only turned into a sleeper hit, but also into one of the hottest PlayStation 4 exclusives to date. And this was a massive achievement on Supermassive’s part, as the PlayStation 4’s catalogue of games, was, and still is the greatest of this generation, and those who initially laughed at Until Dawn, turned into rabid fans that were yearning for more.

Months have passed, and dreams of a follow-up – remained nothing more than fantastical imagination. As Sony has put the plans of a potential sequel on a back burner. But in a unprecedented turn of events, Bandai Namco has stepped out of the shadows and cut a deal with Supermassive for an entire Horror Anthology. With the recently released first episode, entitled Man of Medan, and while the spiritual successor may not be the grand sequel which many were hoping for, Man of Medan is certainly nothing to scoff at.

Man of Medan, just like Until Dawn, tells a story of a group of young adults, which rapidly turns from bad, to worse, and while it may come at a discounted price of £24.99, it ultimately comes in all of the AAA glory – in terms of visuals and storytelling. Hell, with Man of Medan you ultimately get a much better deal, as it comes with two highly unique multiplayer modes, and an additional story mode – which allows you to experience the base story from a brand new perspective, and those, while could be considered nothing more than add-ons, ultimately become the bread and butter of Man of Medan, and perhaps the anthology going forward.

Unlike Until DawnMan of Medan can be completed in a single sitting, and one playthrough, shouldn’t take anyone more than four hours. But if you take into consideration all the modes, and possible choices, then the title’s playtime clocks out at around 40 hours – or so with added replay value. But if you are getting into Man of Medan with the hopes of experiencing Until Dawn 2, then you might be a little disappointed – especially if you have nobody to play it co-op with.

Visually, Man of Medan looks just like a AAA game, and it even comes with all the bells and whistles of all the modern £50 million releases. However, facial animations, leave a little to be desired, as all in-game characters have a tendency to look rather dead eyed, even during cut-scenes, which are meant to be highly emotional, and the same goes for voice acting, as all characters – with the exception of Shawn Ashmore’s Conrad, and Pip Torrens’ The Curator – often sound just a little off. But this was to be expected, as Until Dawnvoice-over was equally uneven.

Man of Medan may share a lot of similarities with its spiritual predecessor, but it appears that Supermassive has learnt a lot from its previous outing. Man of Medan features a plethora of new additions, improvements, and quality of life changes. For example, to’keep calm‘, no longer requires you to wave your controller around, as now you only have to tap X, in time with on-screen prompts – so  it’s basically a Heart Beat Hero (Heart Controller not included). Quick-Time-Events, are also much more readable, as the on’screen prompts, are much easier to read, and now involve both analogue stick movement, as well as button taps. And lastly, all major actions are handled with right, and not left stick, meaning that unlike in the Yakuza series, you will not have to re-adapt, and forget your typical shooter habits.

Similarly to Until Dawn, Man of Medan features the revolving door narrative development flowchart of: Human Threat> Super Natural Threat> Supernatural Threat turns out to be Human > Third and last threat which appears to be human, turns out to be Supernatural, and the only difference between Until Dawn and Man of Medan is the fact that the story of the final threat is not resolved by the time the credits roll. This is understandable, as this is meant to be an anthology series, so the REDACTED which appears towards the end of the game, will return in the future installments.

The biggest improvement in my opinion, comes from the fact that all the above outlined threats to the group of protagonists remain throughout. Meaning that the human threat, the seemingly supernatural threat, and the ‘actual‘ supernatural threat, are ever present, and this adds an additional layer of tension, which was missing from Until Dawn., making Man of Medan ultimately a better horror game – if not as satisfying.

When the final credits for Man of Medan roll, you end up sitting there wanting  more – much more. Sure you can replay it dozens of times alone, or with friends. But you will never just sit there and say ‘Aye that was great, got everything I wanted from it‘. Yes, there is a logical conclusion to the fate of the main protagonists, but ultimately Man of Medan leaves you with more questions than answers, and any/all good games should make you sit there and reflect on what just happened, but Man of Medan just has you questioning what happened with X? Why did Y never return? What is the factual source of Z? And so on, and so forth.

Ultimately, Man of Medan is a decent experience, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. But it does feel more like a single episode (which it is), than an entire game. It’s like an episode of Sopranos. It gives you a story which begins with the title, and ends with the credits, while constantly developing upon the greater picture. But where you would have to wait just a single week for the next episode of Sopranos, you’ll have to wait at least a year for the next installment of The Dark Pictures Anthology – but I honestly hope that it will release far before then.

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