Bloober Team has been one of the most creative developers and publishers on the forefront when it comes to bringing the world of horror into the new gaming world. With recent games such as Observer: System Redux, Blair Witch, and the Layers of Fear games, they have a firm grasp on what it is to lead the genre of horror with the new consoles and systems for the modern-day gaming warrior. Their next step down the dark path of horror comes to us in the form of The Medium.
Bloober Team has stated that The Medium is a third-person psychological horror game that features innovative dual-reality gameplay, a unique art style inspired by painter Zdzisław Beksiński, and an original soundtrack co-composed by Arkadiusz Reikowski and Akira Yamaoka. So, I had to see what the hype was all about, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that they hammered the bloody nail into the skull pan of anyone looking for a new way to play a game.
In The Medium, you take on the role of Marianne, a young lady who grew up in foster homes in Krakow, Poland, in the late 90s. Marianne is seen as different and unwanted until she met a man who basically helped raise her as his own. They lived above a mortuary and he helped her with her gift. After his passing, she receives a mysterious phone call from Thomas. He wants to talk to her about her special abilities and help her figure out who and what she is. All she has to do is come to the Niwa Resort and alas, that’s where everything starts to go south.
In all their previous games, Blooper Team has had you play as the character in the first-person view and I assumed that would be the case here too. I am incredibly pleased to state that is not the scenario in this game. You play the game from a third-person perspective while exploring two different worlds. The most awe-inspiring part of this gameplay is that you don’t always play in the real world or the spirit world. My mind was blown away when I got to play in both worlds at the exact same time. The screen splits right down the middle with the real world on one side and the spirit world on the other.
I am not going to sugar coat it. I thought this would be your normal run-of-the-mill puzzle games. You find a door that needs a key, so you must go and find the key in another room and then come back to unlock the door to move on. Yes, this is that type of game, but it is so much more than that. Marianne gets a headache and like a flip of a switch, she sees both the spirit and real-world at the exact same time. She then can access both worlds at the exact same time, and what she does on one side will affect what she can then do on the other. Another great feature is that she can have an out of body experience. She can dwell within the spirit world farther in case she is stuck somewhere in the real world and can fix a puzzle to move the story forward.
The atmosphere of this game makes you want to keep playing more and more. The visuals of this game are dark, moody, gory, and make you at times want to turn away. Like the first time, you get to meet Sadness. Sadness is a little girl that you meet near the beginning of the game who will guide you through the first stages of the Niwa Resort. Something awfully bad happened here and she wears the scars on her body to show it, from her missing arm to part of her other arm that looks to be held together with just a few tendons. Even her white mask she wears to cover her face is menacing and gives that uncomfortable feeling. Then her demeanor is that of someone with bipolar syndrome. She is all happy and gleeful one moment and then angry and distraught the next.
The audio is the next part of this game that keeps you enthralled with the overall experience. The music changes with the tone like that of a horror movie, which is very iconic since the game’s spine-tingling soundtrack was produced by non-other than Akira Yamaoka. He has done multiple soundtrack’s from video games but is best known for the Silent Hill series. This audio and visual combination had me on the edge of my seat and I was drawn in so much that when the game gave me my first jump scare, I literally and physically bounced back into my chair. This is the first time in an exceedingly long time that I have ever experienced something like this, and my heart skipped a beat.
The game did have a few flaws that I must speak on. First off, The Medium had some visual issues with some pixelation effects when the cinematics were playing. It was most noticeable around the hair and facial area as well as with the fingers. There were some other things, but nothing I want to speak ill of because the game was very pleasing.
Now, the real pet peeve I had was the movement of Marianne with the keyboard. When moving from room to room, the WASD keys are extremely easy to manipulate. Once you move to another room it takes a moment to readjust your idea of what keys you need to press since the direction made the keys opposite. Also, the first time I really had to run from danger it was a huge issue since I had to hold the shift key while using the S and D keys and the mouse to try to outrun the creature chasing me. I found this exceedingly difficult as I had died multiple times. I then used a controller with my PC and this made movement so much easier. I just wish that the keyboard would have stayed more consistent with the movement.
I put in well over 14 hours of game time into this and I will say that it had me doing my best to see how far I could get. I plan on finishing this game and trying multiple times until I can get all the achievements. I also hope that this is not the last time I get the privilege of playing Marriane. The split world puzzle game kept me entertained and motivated and it is a must-buy for anyone that wants a new experience in any of the following genres: horror, puzzle, mystery, or hell just something new and creative to play.
The Medium is available on Steam and Epic Store on January 28th for $49.99 for the original and the Digital Deluxe will be made available at a later time with a price not available at the time of this review. The Xbox Xbox Series X|S Edition and Windows 10 versions will also launch on January 28th for $49.99.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of The Medium for the PC provided by Bloober Team.