This post is all about our tips and tricks for playing the interactive horror story of The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan, where your goal is to help five young adults survive their journey on a ghost ship.
This will have specific tips you’ll need to save every person in the circumstances where they can live or die during the game. This is a living document, which I’ll update as I discover more of the 69 different ways that the characters can die as they explore a floating wreck that dates back to just after the Second World War. (Check out our review here, as well as some other good tip guides).
Hopefully, enough time has passed since the August 30 launch of the game that these tips and tricks won’t be viewed as spoilers, but as tips to consider when you’re stuck. Man of Medan is available from developer Supermassive Games and publisher Bandai Namco on the Windows PC via Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox.
[This story has major spoilers. If you’re having a hard time with The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, you may want to look up specific advice on a character –Ed.]
Play the game multiple times
I highly recommend that you play Man of Medan without any tips the first couple of times. It is quite replayable, and it’s fun to watch a friend who hasn’t experienced it before play it with you for the first time. But if you’re frustrated and really want to save one character without having to go through the drill of playing the game again, this post is for you.
I’ve played it to the end a few times, and I’ve explored different options in each of the scenes (which you can replay after you first finish the game).
As with the predecessors Until Dawn from 2015 and Hidden Agenda from 2017, Man of Medan’s designers once again embraced the chaos theory of The Butterfly Effect, where tiny events, such as a butterfly flapping its wings, can contribute to enormous downstream effects like a hurricane that occurs weeks later. You have to make a lot of small and big decisions in the game, and those lead to either salvation or death. You can get clues to how to save characters in the “dark pictures” that you find, which show a brief video of a future life-or-death scene.
But sometimes, the game seems very unfair. If you decide to hide instead of running, your character may get caught and die. If two characters aren’t getting along, one character may choose to allow another character to die at a critical moment.
At the end, you can either emerge with all five characters alive, or you may finish with all of them dead. I recommend you try to save people for as long as you can since that unveils more clues and more of the story. Also, you’ll want to save these characters because the developers went out of their way to create an emotional attachment to each character — except the annoying Conrad.
The game also has a co-op mode where you can play with another player. You can also play in Movie Night mode, where up to five players can join together, with each playing one of the major characters. The game takes around four or five hours to play. I played the game on a Windows PC with an Xbox One controller.
Man of Medan is a horror adventure that starts with a prelude set in 1947, when the freighter dubbed the Man of Medan runs into trouble on the high seas. During a storm, water seeps into the cargo hold and mixes with a nasty chemical. It exudes a green gas that flows into the bodies stored in the hold. And it drives the crew mad. During this part, you control two soldiers who are thrown in the brig and medical bay for being drunk. You learn how to control the game and make decisions, but you can’t escape your fate.
Years later, a crew of treasure seekers heads out on a tour boat dubbed the Duke of Milan. First, they explore an underwater wreck of an old rescue plane. Then they run afoul of a trio of pirates and, amid a fierce storm, they are taken to the Man of Medan, now a floating derelict where everyone believes holds a treasure: the Manchurian Gold. From there, the story proceeds in a non-linear way as you make choices about which characters to use.
We noted that the game is quite replayable, but I know the excruciating feeling of having to go through the whole thing again just because of one poor decision or a botched QuickTime Event (or QTE, where you have to hit the right button on your controller or keyboard before a timer runs out).
One of the best time-savers, after you have played it through the first time, is to restart a new saved game at a specific chapter. If you can figure out the chapter where you went astray from the right path, start at that point. You won’t have to replay the whole game, but you could still end up with all five characters alive.
Be prepared for the QTEs. You have to hit the right button at the right time, or you’ll mess something up for one of the characters. Getting the button mashes correct is a matter of life or death. So I highly recommend that you don’t multitask while playing Man of Medan. You never know when you have to mash a button. On top of that, sometimes you have to repeatedly mash a button such as the X key. You have to be prepared to attack that key and keep pressing it over and over. If you fail a lot of these, then it’s going to be bad news for your characters.
You also have to master the breathing mechanic, where you have to hit the A button at the right time, kind of like playing Guitar Hero. This helps you stay hidden when the pirates are searching for you. In the advice below, some characters may wind up in different pairs in particular scenes, depending on the choices you’ve made.
Whatever character you’re playing, please note the task that you have to achieve. And remember that the characters are prone to hallucinations. Things aren’t always what they seem as the name “Manchurian Gold” implies. Don’t believe that every monster you are attacking is actually a monster. And by no means should you lose the distributor cap, which the Duke of Milan boat needs to escape Man of Medan.
Sadly, you cannot stop Conrad from being annoying.
Conrad is the first character that you can lose. When he pushes out the window of the boat and climbs out on the side, he has the option of stealing a boat to make a cowardly solo getaway or moving to the back to take on the pirates. If you want him to live, you have to confront the pirates. He has a chance of escaping and then returning at the end, but only if you get all the QTEs right.
Conrad’s major encounter occurs with a sexy lady who is an illusion. In fact, she is a decaying zombie. In fleeing from her, you have to hit the QTEs right. You have to pass a breathing test if you stay in a room. If you don’t pass that test, Conrad will panic and fall to his death. If you flee, you run out of space to run. You can jump, but then Conrad will fall to his death. If you confront the monster, you’ll find that it isn’t a monster after all.
You have to protect Fliss from threats such as being trapped underwater in a cage. You have to make sure you choose to smash a hinge on the cage. She can also be overtaken by monsters in the water, and you have to hit your QTEs to prevent her from drowning.
Fliss finds a ballroom with a lot of satanic symbols. She has to escape that ritual room and get some air. If she doesn’t, she’ll run into a hooded figure. She can kill that figure, but it will turn out to be one of her friends.
And at the end of the game, Fliss can be killed by one of her friends. The friend has to realize that they’re not seeing a real demon.
Brad should tell Alex to “go with his gut” on a major decision that Alex is going to make. Brad has to stay hidden on the Duke of Milan while the pirates are on the boat. It’s very helpful if you find the gas mask during exploration in the Finding Friends chapter.
While Brad and Julia are escaping from Olson, they should pause long enough to examine Danny, the seemingly dead pirate. Julia will find her engagement ring in his hand.
Brad can be killed by one of his friends.
After hearing good advice from Brad, Alex needs to propose to Julia while they’re diving underwater. He gives her an engagement ring, and it would be very helpful for survival if she says yes during the dive sequence.
Here’s where the QTEs really matter. You have to hit them as Alex and Julia run from Olson. If you don’t, Olson will catch up with Alex at the last door and stab him. Alex can also die by getting caught by a doppelganger chasing him and Julia.
Alex or some of the other cast members may wind up confronting Olson, the main pirate, in the cargo bay. When Olson causes a flood, Alex has to escape. He has to tell the other friend, who is at the controls to hold off on dropping the gate. Alex has to escape, with properly timed Quicktime button pushes, and then the gate has to drop.
The rats who eat the pirate’s body are actually a threat. You should make sure that they don’t bite Alex, who could lose his grip on the distributor cap. Alex should not pick up the knife in the kitchen. If he does, he may very well use it, and that is not going to end well. Even if he does pick up the knife, he should not try to kill the terrifying vision in front of him. If he does, he fails. If you fail, this ending is truly a heartbreaker, as a safe escape is almost within reach.
Julia needs to get a proposal from Alex and say yes during her dive. While underwater, Julia and Alex see an explosion above on the boat. Julia needs to keep her calm and make sure she decompresses before getting on the boat. This will stop her from getting decompression sickness from rising too fast.
Toward the end, when you find the rebreather, make sure you pick it up and bring it with you.
Julia and Brad get stopped by Junior, one of the pirates. He is freaking out because he has breathed in the green gas, and it is making him see things. He no longer trusts his eyes. Julia has to convince him that the rebreather the mist is inside him and you could take it out of him. Brad also has to say the right things. He has to be curious about Junior’s visions. He has to acknowledge that the “fog” exists. He can deny that he breathed in the mist. And Brad should try to distract Junior, rather than go for the gun. If all goes well for Brad and Julia, then things won’t go well for Junior. It’s not pretty, but it’s a very intense scene.
If Junior believes others are causing his visions, or if you dismiss his concerns, he will shoot you. And if there’s a way to make Junior survive, that’s a good outcome. This involves Julia using the rebreather against him while Brad goes for the gun. If they overpower Junior, he can survive the game.
In the company of Alex, Julia can tell Alex to stop drowning one of the pirates. A chase will ensue. The doppelganger chasing them could very well kill Julia, either by breaking her neck or knifing her.
Do not trust the military. They’re keeping this ghost ship a secret, and they are not your friends. You can call for them to rescue you, but do not take them up on it. This means that you must save the distributor cap for the Duke of Milan. If you lose it, you’ll be in deep trouble when the military shows up.
If you get all of these things right, then you’ll leave the ghost ship and return to the Duke of Milan. Brad wonders what they really saw. Julia will show the engagement ring to Alex, and he’ll put it on her hand again. Then the Duke of Milan flees the scene with everybody safe on board. Conrad will knock back a frosty one, showing that he hasn’t changed and that you probably shouldn’t have saved him.
And if you did tell the military your coordinates, there is a video in the middle of the credits that shows the consequences of that. The military shows up. Two soldiers search the ship. And when they aren’t paying attention, they run into Danny, one of the pirates who supposedly drowned. He kills them both with a sledgehammer.
Even after you get to this ending, you may want to play it again and find all the collectibles, as that will unlock goodies for you.
There is a way to get to another Easter egg by viewing the final premonition, or one of the dark pictures that give you clues to the future. You can find it if Alex and Julia team up on the final mission, after the radio call, and then you gain control of Conrad.
The premonition in the picture depicts a scene from the next installment of The Dark Pictures Anthology. It’s called Little Hope, and it shows a scene from the next game. The Curator suggests that we’ll see each other again, “maybe in Little Hope.”