It’s no secret that I very much enjoyed The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan. You can take a look at our official review, which explains all the factors I considered. One of those happens to be how the mystery of the Ourang Medan ghost ship slowly unravels as you progress. Another is how the scares and frights are interwoven not just to keep you on your toes, but to explain a reality that’s beyond the comprehension of your five characters. In this mini-feature, I’ll take a look at these otherworldly entities: The Curator and the “ghosts” you’ll see aboard the SS Ourang Medan.
Note: Yes, there will be spoilers ahead. For all other matters, you can go ahead and check our guides and features hub for everything you need to know about The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan.
Man of Medan – Who is The Curator?
No character in the game is more mysterious than The Curator. The character, played by British actor Pip Torrens (The Crown, Versailles, Preacher), is an enigma. He gets introduced fairly early on in Man of Medan‘s opening credits scene, and you can tell he’s having a jolly good time explaining the background and predicament of your characters. He’s like the Crypt-Keeper from Tales from the Crypt.
However, The Curator isn’t just there for a cup of tea or witty banter. Surrounded by books and portraits in his library, he tells you that there are numerous stories and unsolved mysteries for you to ponder on and explore. The adventure horror in Man of Medan is just one of them.
Though he often breaks the fourth wall by giving you hints in between certain chapters, The Curator also appears in the actual ship. There are a few cutscenes aboard the SS Ourang Medan where you’ll spot a mysterious figure in a trenchcoat just watching you from a distance.
Making your decision in the game, and then seeing him appear for a few seconds, can be quite disturbing.
The Dark Pictures Anthology – The Curator’s role
More disturbing would be little tidbits and hints as to the overall direction of Supermassive Games’ The Dark Pictures Anthology series. Though Man of Medan is just the first taste, Supermassive has already noted that they’re planning to release at least two Dark Pictures titles each year, and the next ones are already being developed. In fact, The Curator tells you that you might meet him again in a future game called Little Hope, and one Premonition even gives you a clue.
But, going back to Man of Medan, there might be sinister forces at work. This is seen during Fliss’ experience during “The Ritual” where she’s in a grand ballroom aboard the freighter. Surrounded by a fountain dripping blood and skulls set on a pentagram, she picks up a tome that tells her about a demonic ritual and a secret cabal. Whether The Curator has a hand in this revelation, or he’s just playing tricks on players, is anyone’s guess.
What can be a more apt observation, though, is that The Curator’s appearance will often be a portent of a possible death for your characters in Man of Medan. His appearance at a hallway while Conrad is getting chased by a creature would, if you picked the wrong choices, have you see Conrad’s demise through multiple means. The same goes for glimpses when he’s in cutscenes involving Fliss, Julia, and others.
Like death, he watches over the actions of your characters, and, to a degree, the choices that you make. He appears just as one soul might be reaped, though the decision always comes down to you. Later, he may chide you while sitting in his library. He’d chuckle if a soul was taken or if you managed to prevent that fate.
Just so you’ll know his true purpose, here he is appearing during one of Man of Medan‘s ending scenes (check the right-hand side of the image):
What’s he doing there? Surely he’s not just interested in watching your characters dawdle around, right?
Well, he appears just seconds before Julia starts suffering from “the bends” or decompression sickness if she surfaced too early during the dive several chapters ago. That’s one soul in his grasp, and just when the game was about to end.
Snakes on a plane? Ghosts on a ship!
There are a handful of hectic moments in Man of Medan, and, as mentioned in our official review, the game does tend to rely too much on jump scares. At certain points, some of those frights might involve apparitions, ghostly figures that wander the SS Ourang Medan‘s decks. Are these supernatural creatures the spirits of dead soldiers, or are they something else?
Well, the answer would be the latter, especially if you take a screenshot at the right time:
Fliss might’ve gotten spooked by the ghostly figure, but it’s actually Brad. Here’s Brad again, popping up while Conrad is checking the SS Ourang Medan‘s sleeping quarters:
But wait, there’s more! Here’s “ghost bro” Conrad popping up while Brad’s the one that’s snooping around:
Are your characters actually dead? Well, they might be in your playthrough. Or they might still be around — it wouldn’t matter. The point is that these ghostly apparitions simply show your own characters in alternate branches of Man of Medan‘s story.
A number of moments in Man of Medan present you with various choices. The decisions you make will impact the direction or path of the narrative you’ll follow. Brad’s “ghost” pops up because it’s possible for him to be the player’s character in that scene. Conrad’s “ghost” also pops up because he can also be playable during that moment… if you make certain choices.
You are, essentially, seeing the “echoes” of parallel realities that are converging at certain points throughout the game. You just glimpse these as “ghosts.” A character even mentions alternate possibilities during one monologue during the game’s ending, and The Curator makes note of the metaphysical aspect of your decisions. In any case, I’ve outlined some of these alternate paths you can find in our Theatrical Cut walkthrough.