Why Man of Medan Reviews Diverge so Much and More: A Dev Perspective

September 12, 2019

(Disclaimer: I am a game developer making a “competing” product. The game was bought (twice) with company funds. However I also stand to benefit if Man of Medan succeeds commercially.)

You’ve watched and read many reviews of Supermassive’s new game Man of Medan. Yet you’re still confused if it’s a good game or not. Many reviews give great praise while others pan the game. How can this be? And what else is there that could be affecting the reviews?

True Branching Stories causes Diverging Reviews

If you talk to nearly any Visual Novel player about visual novels, you’ll most likely hear about them talk about their “favourite” route. Then everyone knows what the experiences are. Same with games whose choices don’t make a big difference.

But what if your choices can drastically cut out chunks of the game? How do you know if a reviewer has seen the same thing as another? Wouldn’t they talking be talking about different experiences?

Have reviewers found a way to explain what they experienced without spoiling the story? The closest thing I thought would be to reveal non-spoiler achievements received in the review itself. But reviewers don’t really do that at the moment. So for now the issue remains unsolved.

Speaking of things to be solved…

Some Players will Solve the Mystery Instantly, others Never Will

If you watch enough “Let’s Plays” you’ll discover this aspect of the game. This brings a new skill that isn’t often tested in video games. Solving a mystery! Or understanding what’s truly going on.

For one of the first times ever, the raw speed of your comprehension skills will be brutally tested in quick time events. Fast twitch skills aren’t going to be always helpful and might be slightly… detrimental.

The Combo of Choices sometimes Matter More

There are a lot of games that use a single choice to cause a branching point to branch. Few games actually have branching based on combinations of choices. So now when people ask you is a choice is good or not, you can say “It’s complicated”.

Voice Chat or Not, Your Choices can Directly Affect the Other Player

Sat down with someone else over voice chat and played a session. We had fun trying to figure out what was going on. As someone who has played a certain visual(sound) novel with a similar mystery behind it, I immediately avoided any bad choices that looked similar in theme. But my mystery partner didn’t play that visual novel. So then they could make a choice that would be very bad for me in that moment.

In single player you don’t get that feeling of “Please please don’t mess up co-op partner!” or “What the heck are you planning?”.  We’re not quite sure what our co-op partner is experiencing. And if we’re not sure of even that, how can we expect reviewers to have similar experiences?

Honestly can’t tell if Every Reviewer had similar experiences at this Point

Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to change this point. I did suggest achievements.  We definitely should try to look for a solution that doesn’t spoil the plot. Visual Novels already have a grammar for this. We call them “routes”.

If you’re got this far, then I thank you for reading this.

We look forward to adding a multiplayer story-ish game to the market at some point ourselves.