Welcome one and all to a NEW irregular series for SeriouslyAverageGamers – “Hot Take”. Where either Zack or I will discuss a topic that isn’t the general consensus. These will all be gaming related of course but steeped heavily in our own opinions. My first Hot Take is that Man of Medan is, overall, better than Until Dawn.
For those that don’t know, both games are made by the same studio Supermassive Games. Both have a very similar genre blend for horror/thriller, following a 3rd person view. Until Dawn is a PlayStation exclusive whilst Man of Medan is multiplatform. Man of Medan is also part of the Dark Pictures Anthology, of which the second entry, Little Hope, is coming out later this year.
As this is our first Hot Take there is no set format for me to use. So I’ll try something. I’ll briefly go over each of the areas that I think are better. Then just to be fair I’ll go over some of its flaws in Man of Medan.
The Dialogue Is More Natural
So to start off, let me talk about one of my least favourite parts about Until Dawn. The dialogue.
It is some of the cheesiest, most unrealistic examples in modern games. This is obviously my opinion so not everyone will agree.
Zack, our other writer, made a suggestion that it was on purpose. That the point of the “cheese” was to emulate older school horror flicks. Which to his credit is possible, it’s a valid point but that doesn’t make it good.
The dialogue is still bad, and it draws me out of the immersion. It’s much harder to become invested in characters that never talk or act human.
This is in stark difference to Man of Medan. The dialogue and the character interactions are all much more believable. You connect so much more with them because they seem more real. In a game toting such realism and motion capture the real part is so, so important.
Jumpscares Are Framed Better
This is actually one of my favourite things in Man of Medan. It has some of the best jumpscares in a ‘kind of horror’ game.
The thing that I particularly like about them is how subtle they are. Some just pop out in your face with a “boo!” but a lot are not. Most of the scares that I jumped at were basically just ghostly figures in the background. Or walking through a wall behind the character in the foreground.
Quite a few times I would jump louder and harder than in any other game and it was just a moment. There was no ceremony, no loud shriek sound effect, the character didn’t see it. The game doesn’t acknowledge it because only you, the player, saw it.
It’s a fantastic way to handle them and I think it actually puts you on edge even more. It also allows the exact same scare to get you multiple times. I have played through a couple times and I had no way to prepare myself for the shock.
Even talking about how the scares affect me, whilst playing, they still routinely made me brown my pants.
Heartbeat to standstill
This actually refers to my other least favourite thing about Until Dawn. Throughout Until Dawn there are times when you have to stand still. It’s a way of escaping capture or death, and it is a cool addition. My problem is the way that they have implemented it.
In Until Dawn you have to keep the PlayStation controller still for the required time. The reason that this is a problem is that it’s not a reliable measurement. So you can lose this stillness check even if, in a fair system, you shouldn’t have.
Just to kind illustrate my point, I’ve seen a controller left on a flat table and still fail. If an inanimate table can’t get it right, human hands have less of a chance.
In contrast, Man of Medan has a little rhythm game. You press a button in time with the characters heartbeat. As you’d expect, as say a bad guy gets closer the beat gets faster.
It’s an infinitely fairer and better thought out mechanic than is found in Until Dawn. The only time that you fail this check is, unless you aren’t looking, you yourself mess up the timing. That’s it.
It’s fully reliant on you, the player, keeping time. There’s no accidental, tiny twitch that makes you fail.
Even to this day, even as a supposed adult, I love some couch co-op. There are very things better than sitting around with your buddies playing a game. Man of Medan adds in this option.
You are able to play with a few of your friends together in a single campaign, with each of you taking control of different characters. Until Dawn is strictly a single player affair, which kills some of that social experience, at least for me.
In all fairness
So now to talk about some of the things that Man of Medan gets wrong. Or that could be better at least. Not necessarily in comparison to Until Dawn but as a game itself.
The first is a comparison though. Man of Medan is quite a bit shorter than Until Dawn. Whether you think this is a bad thing or not is purely subjective. Some people like a pretty tight 5 hour excursion. Others would much prefer a longer running game with more twists and turns.
This is actually my biggest criticism about Man of Medan and it’s co-op play. Some characters can entirely leave the game, or die, and the person controlling them now can’t play the game.
When I played through the whole thing with a couple friends this is exactly what happened. One character pretty early on can basically leave and if they do, they no longer feature in the rest of the game. That means that although the guy playing had another character they lost one permanently in the first hour or so.
I don’t mind the way this plays out in the story but it can definitely ruin the experience. It becomes less fun and by extension useless to have couch play if someone can be made to stop playing.
I genuinely can’t think of any other things that I didn’t actually like about Man of Medan.
Hot Take Conclusion
I really do think that there’s a whole lot that Man of Medan does significantly better than Until Dawn. That leads me to enjoy Man of Medan more, it’s really that simple. With me games are all about enjoying what you’re doing. Man of Medan is just more enjoyable to me.
Man of Medan is also part of a larger series that will be built on. The next entry into the series is coming out very soon as well. Little Hope is coming out on the 30th of October this year!
Me and some friends are planning to do a blind couch playthrough on release. I for one am very excited for that.
To make the series continuingly impressive I just hope they take more from Man of Medan than Until Dawn. At the end of the day, this is just my opinion.
Do you agree with me? Do you prefer Until Dawn?
Let us know in the comments!
Hot Take: Man of Medan is better than Until Dawn.
Written by Kyle Munn.