Game Reviews

The Medium Review: A Horror Game Stuck Between Worlds

Story Highlights
  • “The Medium is a chilling tone piece that's bogged down by retro influence and a protagonist that can't stop oversharing.”
The Medium

The Medium Review: A Horror Game Stuck Between Worlds

PROS

  • Restrained horror
  • Unnerving setting
  • Detailed visuals

CONS

  • Hammy dialogue
  • Half-baked exploration
  • Gimmicky twin perspective

The Medium is caught between two worlds. Just as its protagonist, Marianne, concurrently navigates the worlds of the dwelling and lifeless, the game itself exists as every a recent psychological thriller and a PlayStation-era horror throwback.

Developed by Bloober Team, The Medium wears its influences on its tattered sleeves. The slow-paced horror recreation will actually really feel immediately acquainted with Resident Evil diehards attributable to its fixed digital digicam angles, investigation-heavy gameplay, and usually goofy dialogue. At the similar time, it delivers a darkish and demanding story that feels further consistent with present video video games like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

While The Medium delivers with lovely visuals and a genuinely unsettling universe, it’s held once more by old school horror recreation hallmarks that solely ham up an in another case environment friendly tone piece.

Less focus on, further shock

The Medium follows Marianne, a medium who simply is not solely able to discuss with the lifeless, nevertheless, enter their world. After shedding her adopted father, she follows a mysterious cellphone identify to a dilapidated lodge in hopes that she is going to uncover some options to her earlier. The recreation kicks off with a really sturdy introduction that items the stage for a quiet, atmospheric story that leans into creepy seen storytelling.

That doesn’t remaining prolonged. The recreation intently is determined by a voiceover to have Marianne relay the exposition to the participant. Every time she picks up merchandise, she’ll muse about its purpose, leaving no ambiguity about what players are imagined to do with it. When she’s not doing that, we hear her mounted inside monologue explaining exactly what’s occurring on show. In one puzzle, she notes {{that a}} statue appears to be “lonely” and shortly clarifies that it’s as if it’s “missing a piece.”

What’s further jarring is that she’ll often quip like a Marvel superhero on essentially the most inappropriate moments. The Medium tells a deeply raw story about repressed childhood trauma that options powerful depictions of abuse. Those moments are visceral and haunting, nevertheless, they lose their power when interspersed with hammy one-liners.

While it appears as if the game is trying to alleviate the bleakness, it usually feels desire it’s not taking itself considerably ample.

In one bizarre scene, Marianne runs by an area full of the spirits of murdered children whereas gleefully joking about how the phrase “bolt cutters” type of looks as if a spy or porn star establish.

Video video video games will not be any stranger to oversharing with players or delivering flat jokes. The genuine Resident Evil video video games nearly constructed their identification on harmful dialogue. The distinction is that these video video games are digital B-movies rooted in pulp horror. The Medium, alternatively, tackles plenty of delicate topics in a head-on methodology that is going to be powerful for some players. While it appears as if the game is trying to alleviate the bleakness, it usually feels desire it’s not taking itself considerably ample.

Half and half

When it includes gameplay, The Medium errs on the facet of minimalism. There will not be any weapons, no struggle, and only one precise “monster” in your total recreation. Instead, it’s fully based totally on exploration. Most of the game is spent interacting with objects and performing some delicate puzzle fixing. Some of the game’s best moments come from Marianne learning regarding the lifeless devices they left behind.

That gameplay feels correct out of the old school Resident Evil handbook, though it misses plenty of pages. Despite exploring a sprawling lodge, the game is awfully linear. Every time Marianne picks up an object, it’s always going to get used inside a few minutes. Rather than developing on Resident Evil’s twisty puzzle discipline mansion, it references the game’s mechanics with out the context. That waters down the sense of exploration and makes all of the items actually really feel considerably on-rails.

The Medium

The recreation’s necessary hook is its twin actuality gameplay, which is equally half-baked. At certain elements, the game breaks proper right into a split-screen the place players are controlling Marianne throughout the dwelling and the lifeless worlds at the same time. It’s a mind-bending spectacle, nevertheless one which on no account pretty takes full good thing about its potential. Gameplay consists of simple puzzle fixing that usually boils all the way in which all the way down to “electrify a fleshy panel or cut through a wall of skin in one world to open a path in the other.”

Most of the time, it felt like a one-trick gimmick. I didn’t usually felt like I was getting one thing out of seeing two images at once. My eyes often always stayed glued on one facet of the show and there have been not usually any penalties to ignoring the alternative. The best use of the impression solely comes in the midst of the remaining cutscene of the game, which notably underscores how underutilized the thought is.

It’s a mind-bending spectacle, nevertheless one which on no account pretty takes full good thing about its potential.

Bloober Team is definitely on to 1 factor proper right here and it feels similar to the studio could take the thought further in a sequel. Despite that potential, I found myself quite extra captivated by the game’s lonelier sequences by the highest. Even with some tense sneaking scenes and some delicate supernatural abilities, the moments the place Marianne merely soaks throughout the tragedy round her felt further haunting than any creepy monster.

Atmospheric horror

If it appears as if I’ve however to the contact on the exact horror aspect of the game, that’s because of The Medium takes an extracerebral technique to fret. Rather than relying on low-cost bounce scares, the game opts for environment friendly psychological terror. It’s a morose tone piece that’s incessantly unsettling on the power of its decaying environments alone, from rundown lodge rooms to charred houses soaked in ash. That’s a refreshing change of tempo from the type of scare bait designed to net streamers a whole lot of 1000’s of views. The Medium is the first recreation to really make a case for the Xbox Series X’s power.

Part of that success comes from Team Bloober’s willingness to test the boundaries of the most recent gaming tech. The lighting items the mood attributable to ray tracing, with harsh highlights lowering by stark shadows. The recreation’s alternate world brings the paintings of Polish surrealist Zdzisław Beksiński to life with the grotesque components.

Then there’s the dual actuality centerpiece, which is the type of magic trick usually reserved for tech demos. Even if the gameplay aspect underwhelms, it’s nonetheless the type of extremely efficient spectacle solely doable on a model new piece of {{hardware}}. Considering that Xbox Series X didn’t launch with any true exclusives, The Medium is the first recreation to really make a case for the console’s power.

The Medium

Add in an excellent, unnerving score and The Medium has all of the aesthetic markings of a sluggish burn horror hit. That’s why its flaws are so considerably irritating. It looks as if the game on no account has ample faith in itself to get by on set-dressing alone. There’s always a voiceover to vocalize what players see and even go as far as to elucidate what emotions the settings are trying to evoke. All of the seen knowledge speaks louder than Marianne’s voice and it’s a shame that the game is so hesitant to imagine its private instincts.

Our take

Beneath the layers of hammy dialogue, undercooked retro impact, and gimmicky design, The Medium is an emotionally troublesome horror recreation that trades type clichés for actual psychological distress. The chilling aesthetic could make for a harrowing new franchise, nevertheless, any sequel should spend a lot much less time attempting to be the next Silent Hill and additional time attempting to be The Medium.

Is there a higher distinction out there?

Resident Evil 2 outdoes its retro vibe and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice further confidently pursues pure psychological horror.

How prolonged will it remaining?

The story is over in 8 to 10 hours and there’s almost nothing to return again once more to as quickly as credit score roll.

Should you buy it?

No, a minimal of not for full worth. That said, will most likely be obtainable on Xbox Game Pass at launch, so it’s a minimal of worth a curious search for horror fanatics and Series X homeowners searching for to push the console’s power.

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