The Medium Review – Quiet Slope
The Medium is interesting, for several different reasons. One, it is the first fully Next-Gen Game for the Xbox side. Two, it is a game that harks back to a certain IP about parallel worlds. And Three, it is a game that is free thanks to Game Pass, so many have played it by now, in fact they even broke even by the first week.
And now the spotlight is fully illuminated on them, a game that looks and sounds like a franchise familiar to us. A friendly throwback or a mimic to fool en masses?
The stage is set, is The Medium any good?
The Medium gets their atmosphere and music right. It’s setting of a dual world setup conveys quite amazingly between the game’s split-screen moments. The real world looks quite bleak and empty, whilst the parallel world looks fleshly (in a way) and foreign.
And you, as the player, get to see both at the same time, and marvel at the work that the art team at Bloober has made.
The places you’ll explore within the game are quite expansive and derelict, as Marianne explores places that people have long gone in the real world but exist within the other one. Like for example, the Niwa Hotel within both realms tells an interesting story of what happened within that former vacation spot and why, as a medium (hint, hint), you unrevealing why some spirits remain there.
Music is perhaps one of the more vital aspects of a horror game like this and it’s fitting that they had a certain Akira Yamaoka and Bloober’s own Arkadiusz Reikowski do the music because it fits the game super well.
Tracks like “Outside Niwa” and the game intro song, “The Love That Was Lost” are quite an amazing showcase of the music talent working their magic.
And it does kinda get even nostalgic at times when the guitar strums and the atmosphere works it’s magic.
Medium’s gameplay is perhaps quite simplistic for some who are not into this sort of horror game. Besides solving puzzles, and running away from danger, there is not a lot fighting back unless you have absorbed a certain powerup and then, you can shield yourself from danger (which is a story beat, by the way).
And I still could not compliment the dual world gameplay enough. It’s implementation to tell a story of someone stuck between these two realms makes it quite to see how they implemented this onto a console such as the Xbox Series S and keeping it at a solid 30fps.
Besides the non-combat gameplay, it’s usage of everyday objects as a sort of “Audio-logs” feature in the form of “Echoes” does help sell the world even more. It combines elements of a certain American made game with the initials SH, which I enjoyed then and enjoyed them now as well.
Control-wise, it kinda weird playing a game that captures the SH control schemes. For better or worse, it’s slow/fast movement with Marianne suddenly moving according to the camera will make chase sequences quite awkward to maneuver.
And I do understand that charm, it’s quite an annoyance at times when you want to see a highlighted Echoes. But I do approve the usage of the trigger vibrations during intense scenes, which adds to the feel of the horror that you see on screen.
All in all, it is quite an interesting linear horror story that might surprise some of you readers. Though my only complaint is that some of the puzzle’s solutions are quite vague and copy-pasted at times, this doesn’t sway my opinion of the game that much.
This horror experience is quite short but very fulfilling with a run time of about 5 – 8 hours, which for a game this scope is quite nice. A story with not a lot of filler and can be easily replayed in the future.
I do recommend it for those who have Xbox’s Game Pass which for the price of free, you can experience this game in its entirety.
Though I would have to warn readers who are not comfortable with the topic of death, despair, and suicides, I do not recommend play it as it delves into that sort of territory and as your reviewer, I feel that it is right to tell you all about this before you pick up and play this game.
The Medium, when first announced back during the Xbox Series X showcase event, struck quite a chord with me due to the music, the trailer showing a good chunk of CGI that feels familiar and yet it’s not. I was genuinely excited for this game to launch and kind of is the few reasons why I joined team Xbox back in November of last year.
The similarities with Silent Hill (the game which I short-formed SH over this review), is uncanny. It is a sort of mix between Silent Hill 3 and Shattered Memories over its tone and gameplay style. Those two are my favourite games of that series and it’s nice to play something that reminded me why I love this sort of horror game.
If they ever do another game like this, I hope that Bloober gets a melee mechanic built in because that would definitely complete this homage to a series that perhaps have left us for good.
What makes a game go towards the homage realm and come out making something that you loathe for the good times to come back. All before praising the said game, despite it’s quirks and all.
The Medium is a short burst of horror that if you’re into this sort of games and have no qualms over it’s story, it should be played at least once.
It will pull you into their world and tick all those horror game boxes that you expect it to be there. It might get boring, sure but it’s nice to have this sort of game.
Who knows, maybe this kick might make these types of games to go full gear again.
Reviewed on Xbox Series S, Game provided by the publisher.