The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan (Zero Punctuation)

The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan (Zero Punctuation)

Now, I’m not in favour of putting labels on
everything, per se, unless I’m looking for my lunch in a workplace fridge, but on the
other hand I do support putting bells around the necks of people with incurable infectious
diseases, and that’s how I think of a lot of my work. There are a couple of particularly
loud and clangy bells dangling from this week’s subject, which is fitting, because all its
characters are bellends. The phrase “interactive movie” has always been a warning sign. Quite
a vintage one, too, like the skull and crossbones they put on First World War minefields. Usually
means you’re in for an experience that can be recreated with basically any movie on a
player with pause and skip buttons. But the other, slightly larger alarm bell hanging
off Man of Medan is a newer one, labelled “Multiplayer Focussed Storytelling.” Oh boy,
we’re going to have to learn this lesson again, aren’t we. A story is an inherently personal
experience. You do it no favours by obliging me to experience it alongside other people,
all having to listen to them talk and get exposed to their hideous diseases. Man of
Medan comes to us from the creators of Until Dawn, which wasn’t awful as far as interactive
movies go but that’s like being the least painful as far as horse chestnuts in my jockstrap
go. But apparently Supermassive Games think they
fucking nailed it because now they’re committing to something called the Dark Pictures Anthology,
of which Man of Medan is but the first – a series of branching narrative horror stories
with gameplay identical to Until Dawn, hosted Cryptkeeper style by a very smug British man
who feels he has to interrupt every now and again to smug off about how much we’re fucking
things up, like he’s commentating on the snooker tournament he mistakenly dressed up for. But
about that multiplayer. The game makes a big thing of its ‘Movie Night’ mode, where up
to five people on a couch can enjoy the story together. You know, the kind of thing you
do when you suspect it’s going to be really bad and want someone to take the piss out
of it with. Turns out the Movie Night mode is just the single player but every now and
again a message pops up saying “Pass the controller to such and such!” And I’m pretty sure I could
have created this mode myself with literally any single player game. Or indeed any DVD
with pause and skip functions. There’s also online multiplayer where players
can interact with each other as the characters at various points in the plot, but I question
its worth, since the gameplay is just a patchwork of binary choices that funnel you down rigidly
defined paths so another player isn’t contributing much more than a random number generator would.
Until Dawn had its problems, and they’ve mostly been transplanted directly across to this.
I hate that examining a fucking piece of paper on a desk has to be such an arcane process
involving one button press, two button holds and a brief sacrifice to the god of transcribed
handwriting. I hate how the mere act of moving around a room is like trying to steer a frightened
overweight pig onto a slaughterhouse conveyer belt, apparently in the name of cinematic
walking animations that very realistically depict people who have debilitating strokes
whenever they attempt to pass through doorways. And the very cinematic arty camera angles
with thick black bars at the top and bottom make it virtually impossible to figure out
what is and what is not a doorway without rubbing yourself against every wall like you’ve
got two broken arms and really itchy nipples. My point is, perhaps the Until Dawn formula
could have been iterated a bit before we jumped all the way to adding groundbreaking multiplayer
or throwing words like “anthology” around. So that’s the technical side, let’s settle
into a nice hot bath of diarrhoea and complain about the plot. Man of Medan is about five
really quite spectacularly awful people who go on a diving holiday in the South Pacific,
only to get drawn into a sort of extremely gritty episode of Scooby Doo involving pirates
and an abandoned ghost ship about thirty-five to forty percent as horrible as they deserve.
And the only reason I can’t summarise each personality in one word like I could with
Until Dawn is because I have to stick the word “annoying” on the front of them all.
Annoying Jock. Annoying Nerd. Annoying Rich Girl. Annoying Sex Pest. Oh, Yahtzee, you
talk like you’ve never watched a Jason film and cheered as a complex sentient being established
in two minutes of screen time to have some abrasive qualities gets his scrotum bisected
with a lawn edger. It’s a horror story, you’re supposed to hate the cast so you can enjoy
their come-uppance. Two problems with that – first, they don’t decide to go to the ghost
ship, the pirates take them there, so it’s not exactly poetic justice. And second, on
my first run through all of them survived, so apparently it’s not hard to do so. Although
I am unusually good at quick time events. I learned how to react quickly in my time
as chief skirting board cleaner at the hospital for compulsive buggerers. I’ll give Supermassive Games credit, although
they seem to have taken quite enough of it in their fucking name, the stories do branch.
It’s not like a Telltale Game where your choices at most determine whether character A angrily
sucks off a lemur or joyfully sucks off a lemur, characters and entire plot threads
live and die on your actions. But not just your obvious choices, and I’m a little iffy
about tying plot branches to skill challenges like quick time events that you can win or
lose, that implies that there is a good path and a bad path, and no path could be bad if
it ends with Mr A. S. Pest getting his face bitten off as he sputters indignantly at the
gall of these frigid peasants. Also, having a plot branch depend on something like whether
or not we examined the giant golden clitoris in the sex museum, when interacting with it
is the only thing you can do in the sex museum and approximately 99% of players will do so
and the remaining 1% only didn’t because they were killed by a rogue sniper, that’s the
sort of thing that gets annoying when you’re on the achievement hunt looking for all the
paths. One thing I find worth mentioning is that
when Annoying Sex Pest sex pesters Annoying Judgemental Captain Lady, in one version of
events she rightly shuts him the fuck down and later on he might get his knackers minced
in the workings of a grandfather clock, but there’s an equally valid timeline where she
is successfully romanced by his horrible attitude and he rides off into the sunset arm in arm
with his future acrimonious divorce, and I think this illustrates an inherent issue with
branching narrative – that it means the story can’t take any kind of firm philosophical
stance, like don’t be a sex pest. But even if the cast had been Bruce Campbell multiplied
five times, the several variants of every scene and dialog line means the stitching
at the joins is often painfully obvious: awkward pauses, weirdly timed reaction shots, a character’s
attitude or physical position mysteriously changing from one line to the next, it pulls
me right out of the story. And lest we forget we’re still aspiring to no higher model than
shitty teen horror films so expect cheap jumpscares like you’re watching your kids use a suspiciously
inexpensive second-hand trampoline. So I can’t say I was engaged. I would recommend the Movie
Night mode if you’re bad at cooking and you want your dinner party guests to get used
to being underwhelmed.

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  1. Watch this week's episode on Remnant: From the Ashes early!

  2. 0:45 Bullshit. What do call it when someone reads a story to children? Or when a poet reads an epic poem to an audience? Those are both stories experienced as a group Mr. Croshaw.

  3. I would argue that movie theaters are an example of experiencing a story with other people that is quite popular and enjoyable.

  4. 1:12
    Wait, they got you to host this game Yahtzee? Is that why you really hate it? Cause you didn't give it your A-game?

    …yeah, I couldn't resist =P

  5. weird how in a horror game you have to TRY to kill the characters.
    They must have realised this at the very and and said, "Hurry! Put a rat in his chest! Make the other person look like a monster! Now hive them a knife!"

  6. My friends and I already invented this style of multiplayer using TellTale's Game of Thrones game. We call it "Fucking with the Foresters" Where we take turns trying to make the worst decisions possible for House Forester.

  7. My issue is that it seemed like Supermassive simply didn’t try. Until Dawn had bad acting with decent face animation so it seemed like a crappy horror movie. In this game it seemed like they thought they could get away with shitty face animations and shitty acting and still say “it’s like a crappy movie guys!”. But in my opinion it looked like cringey poorly made garabage. Pick one, crappy animation with halfway decent acting or good animation with crappy acting, both together doesn’t work.

  8. I enjoyed it a lot, specially the Shared Story mode, there's something unique about having 2 different perspective to the story and having the actions of one player affect the actions of the other in unseen ways. Kind of like life. I really dig this concept.

  9. Surprisingly, not as damning of a review as I was hoping for. XD

    I liked Until Dawn much better than this. Super massive-ly disappointed with this piece of junk. You should have been more ruthless Yahtzee!! xDD

  10. I like how people defend this games lack of scare factor with "Oh but it's supposed to be like a cheesy horror film!"

    Yeah but we already got that with Until Dawn.
    What the fuck is the point in a scary game that in all ways fails at being scary? Do yo-AAAAGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
    Did…did you get a fright? Ha ha comment jump scare for you, bet you soiled yourself. Loud noises are so scary.

    I thought Until Dawn was a cool little experiment but Man of Medan is just…hell it's not even as good really. And let's not mention the fucked up uncanny valley animation work.

  11. This wasn't harsh enough. Having seen a few playthroughs of this game I'm still struggling to identify why this is considered a game at all. Walking around in very linear narrative fashion, failing to pick things up even though most things are highlighted for you, playing a shitty version of guitar hero, playing pointless quick time events and, overall, having the most cringeworthy dialogue sequences is not my idea of a good "game"… I want escapism, not a metaphor for my very routinely awkward passage to failure in life.

  12. "Although I am unusually good at QuickTime events, I learned how to react quickly during my time as chief skirting board cleaner at the hospital for compulsive buggerers"
    Is now my new favourite "Yahtzee's over descriptive sentence"

  13. Just watched a video with all the death scenes, and even that was rather boring. How do you manage to make a game with a ghost ship and monsters have boring deaths?

  14. Are we just gonna ignore the fact that Yahtzee mispronounces the game's name throughout the entire video? Sure he makes up silly names for games sometimes but I don't think he was aware that he was saying it wrong this time.

  15. Thank you, Mr. Croshaw for continually pointing out the utter bullshit in games. I almost fell for this one. Glad you had to do it, so I wouldn't have to.

  16. I think my biggest issue with the game was the really dumb lack of varients for scenes
    heck if Brad is the Sole Survivor the Helicopter Pilot still says "It's just a bunch of Kids"
    Excuse me?
    there is only one Surprisingly Buff Nerd here who looks like he could crush your head with his bare hands

  17. 3:39 : that joke sent a wave of pride, then a wave of disbelief, then of befuddlement knowing that i landed in the Venn diagram that the joke covered. good show

  18. The effective things you can do with a narrative driven game diminishes with every person you have to accommodate. That's hardly a secret but I guess they felt that they needed more buzzwords to stick on the box. Plus I find one person is more than sufficient to accidentally pick the option that leads your character to go on a school shooting against your will.

  19. I started playing Until Dawn thinking it was quite good. By the time I got a third of the way though. I tried to kill everyone, but still managed to finish it🤦‍♂️

  20. i didn't see the video yet, my guess is that yahtzee's not going to like it because of glitches, being too short and because it is a walking simulator

  21. I actually think that skill based branching narrative would be great, just not with qte's. I mean something like XCOM made into a narrative. Imagine if you played, for example, a Dragon Age game where depending on how good you play and how the battles turns out, you might be more or less fucked in the end

  22. To be fair, this isn't the first multiplayer game Supermassive made. Anybody remember Hidden Agenda? Where everyone needed to download an app to play the game? Even if it was single-player? So there was always a weird latency to dragging your cursor to your choice using the phone and you'd fuck up the QTEs because of hardware issues?
    … Maybe they need to do a bit more research on the whole multiplayer narrative concept.

  23. I really don't get the hate for this game. I loved it. Just wish the game I PRE ORDERED actually came with the PRE ORDER bonus so I can get all the achievements.

  24. Maybe it's not great to play, but I've watched about a dozen different people's playthroughs of it and I'm entertained each time.

  25. Dude it’s 2019 do you really have to put a homophobic joke in your video framing gay men as predatory (in a hospital environment no less). My answer would be no. You could have made any other joke about quick reflexes.

  26. The sweary man that canonized the expression "Press X to Not Die" is good at quick-time events? I am shocked by this revelation.

  27. Watched an episode and a half of Markiplier playing this "game" and it was awful. I hate everything about it.
    They should have just made a movie but honestly even that probably would have been shit.

  28. Yeah, Man of Medan just didn't cut it for me. I felt nothing for any of the characters, and went through it purely to see how they would die.
    At least with Until Dawn I found myself actually giving a shit about a few of them, and called it a win when they, at least, survived.

  29. Someone already said it but I hate that people think that characters have to be hate-able because it's horror. Horror isn't supposed to be enjoyed in a traditional sense, it's supposed to be enjoyed because of the adrenaline and everything, and the hope that our protagonists make it out. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but I don't want the main characters to die and I shouldn't want them to.

  30. *Spoilers**
    I didn't like the game because it spoiled everything at the beginning. Like after you know its a hallucinogen drug it brought the tenseness of them seeing "Ghost" to a 0. It also meant that interactions weren't actually happening when you actually got a "Choice" with the ghost. If they had cut out you playing as someone on the ship when shit hit the fan it could have been so much better.

  31. *Spoilers**
    I didn't like the game because it spoiled everything at the beginning. Like after you know its a hallucinogen drug it brought the tenseness of them seeing "Ghost" to a 0. It also meant that interactions weren't actually happening when you actually got a "Choice" with the ghost. If they had cut out you playing as someone on the ship when shit hit the fan it could have been so much better.

  32. These shitty QTE riddled branching story path games need a mode, where they reverse the outcome of winning a QTE.
    It would have felt so satisfying to play Until Dawn where WINNING the QTEs kills everyone.
    Also it would be super easy to implement, so I don't really understand why this isn't a thing yet.

  33. 3:39 As the only person to get a character killed in my movie night playthrough, I feel this. Missed a single QTE and it was over. Had to sit and watch everyone else play the last half of the game.

  34. Man of Medan was utter garbage. It had good actors in it, it was just written incredibly poorly. The scares where terrible, the "twist" was so incredibly obvious from the beginning, everything about it was incompetently stitched together.

  35. pro tip for anyone who hasn't played it but intends to: do not choose for Conrad to escape on the pirate's boat near the beginning – it will make the game boring.

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