The Medium – Review
Follow Genre: Psychological Horror, Puzzle Adventure
Developer: Bloober Team
Publisher: Bloober Team
Platform: PC, Xbox X/S
Tested on: PC

The Medium – Review

Site Score
9.3
Good: Intriguing story, great atmosphere, well-executed game mechanics
Bad: Fixed camera positions makes it occasionally hard to see whether you are properly hidden from danger
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The Medium is the most recent psychological horror puzzle-adventure developed by Bloober Team. This Polish studio has released some other excellent games in this genre in the past, and judging from the cinematic trailer, The Medium looks really promising. This game features an interesting new game mechanic where you’ll be able to experience many areas you’ll explore both in the spirit realm and in the normal world. A mechanic like this has been used to great effect in the classic title ‘Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver’, but hasn’t been featured in many games since then. Both the concept of parallel worlds and the atmosphere of The Medium is also very reminiscent of the Silent Hill games, and fans of that series will undoubtedly be intrigued by The Medium as well.

Story

You play as Marianne, a woman who lives in two worlds: the normal world, and the spirit world. She can see recently deceased people in the spirit world, but also the spirits of people who haven’t passed on for various reasons. One day, while she is mourning the loss of her foster parent, she receives a mysterious phone call, from someone who knows of her secret ability. This person asks her to come and see him at a remote resort, which had been decommissioned decades ago after a tragedy happened there. As you explore the resort, you’ll notice a lot of activity in the spirit world and you gradually discover what happed there, and learn about the people who lived and worked there.

The story is intriguing and is being told gradually as you progress through the game. Partly, the story is being narrated by Marianne herself, and as you play through the game, you’ll gather clues both from the real world and the spirit world through which you can piece together the various stories of the people who lived in the resort. The environmental storytelling works great as there is a good balance between exploring, cutscenes and narration.

The game itself takes place in 1999, but the story of the Niwa resort takes place in Soviet times, and through it, you’ll learn a lot about Polish history. On the other hand, this is also an occult story about the many inhabitants of the resort, so the story has different layers to it. This may seem like a lot to take in, but it never gets confusing; the pacing of storytelling and introduction of new characters is done well.

Graphics

The game really looks beautiful. The real world looks very realistic, with many details, great textures and animations. You’ll see in the introduction that it is actually based on real historical footage. The spirit world looks absolutely awesome; it’s gloomy, mostly sepia-tones, and most textures look deteriorated and kind-of organic. It has a very eerie and desolate feel to it.

You’ll experience this game from a third-person perspective, with the protagonist always in full view. The game makes use of fixed camera positions, which greatly contributes to experiencing this beautifully designed world. The camera positions add to the atmosphere, but also ensure that the places you’ll need to explore are in full view, often further exemplified by the use of lighting in the game. Lighting is used in a very functional way; leading your vision to important locations. The lighting is also very dramatic and atmospheric, adding to the mood of the game.

The UI is very minimal, but it’s easy to work with. You’ll have an inventory, in which you can select objects to use in the game, as well as combine them. This is easy and intuitive to use.

Sound

The game is fully narrated, with optional subtitles, which can even be modified to have separate colors for each speaker, with the names displayed. This is extremely helpful and very thoughtful to cater to people who might have impaired hearing. The voice acting is very good! You can really hear the emotion through the voices. There are many voice clips throughout the game, and all are well done, even the children’s voices.

The soundtrack and environmental sounds are also handled well. The sounds really contribute to putting emphasis on the eerie atmosphere of the game.

Gameplay

The Medium is a psychological horror puzzle-adventure game. As usual with games like these, you’ll do a lot of exploring, and while exploring you’ll learn about the story, gather objects, and solve puzzles. The concept is quite simple, albeit handled in a fairly original way.

This game has a rather unique gameplay element, since you’ll experience many areas both in the normal world and in the spirit world simultaneously. Both of these worlds have subtle differences, which will enable you to pass through an area in one world, but not in the other. Some areas you will only experience in either the normal world or the spirit world, but sometimes you’re split between the two worlds. If you’re split (which is visualized by a split-screen through which you’re able to keep an eye on both worlds), then a barrier in either of the worlds will block your progress. The puzzles often comprise of removing these barriers. While you’re not able to control through which world your character experiences an area, you are able to fully pass into the spirit world with an ‘out-of-body experience’, which enables you to explore only the spirit world for a very short time. This is a very innovative and fun way of solving environmental puzzles, which fits the narrative and the game’s main character very well.

The puzzles are challenging and require a lot of exploring to solve, but they are not too difficult to figure out without a guide. You’ll gather a lot of clues through the environment and through Marianne’s internal dialogue. As long as you keep in mind all game mechanics available to you, you’re bound to figure out what needs to be done quite quickly.

There’s no real combat in the game, but you do have some abilities available to defend yourself against harmful creatures from the spirit world. In the spirit world, you’ll be able to gather energy from spirit fonts, which are places where a powerful emotion lingers. With this energy, you can empower mechanisms, shield yourself, or even release a powerful blast all around you which will repel dangerous creatures. After using this energy, you’ll need to recharge again in order to use any of these abilities again. However, most of the time you’ll be trying to hide and avoid hostile creatures.

Having only a very limited possibility to defend yourself against danger makes the game scary and will keep you on edge as you explore. Luckily, the game frequently quick-saves, so if you happen to succumb to an enemy and die, you’ll be able to pick up again from the last major clue you solved or gathered.

Conclusion

The Medium is another excellent psychological horror game by Bloober Team, which can certainly measure itself with their top titles. The graphics and sounds are amazing and manage to create a properly eerie setting that fits the narrative of this game. The gameplay mechanics are a lot of fun to work with. It takes some getting used to the various abilities you have in either world, but as you get the hang of this, you’ll quickly be able to tackle the challenges presented to you as you explore. This game is recommended for people who love this genre of games, and especially for people who enjoyed previous titles of this studio.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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The Medium - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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