Released for the Xbox series X/S and Game Pass The Medium a psychological horror game is officially the first next gen game to come out for Xbox, but does it live up to the next gen hype?
Title: The Medium
Developer: Blooper Team
Publishers: Blooper Team
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Gamepass
Release Date: January 28, 2021
It all started with the camera angles and that is the first thing that I think many will notice. The Medium brings the return of fixed camera angles, just like the good ole days of Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Going into The Medium I didn’t have a real set list of things I wanted to see but I will say I did not expect to see these camera angles. That it probably my major drawback of the entire game however, the first lines of “it all started with a girl.” with the opening cinematic really caught my attention and left me wanting to figure out what was happening.
You play as Marianne, she is a spirit guide that can help people who have passed move on to the other side. She does however have something that is a little different something she calls the split, being actually in both the physical world and the spirit world at the same time. You journey with her to find out the origin of her clairvoyant abilities all while telling a rather grim yet interesting detective story. There are even moments where you will have Marianne talking about what’s going on as if she were being questioned or talking about “had to” do something next. The way Marianne is portrayed and acted out by Kelly Burke is phenomenal and even has moments where she take quips at herself and give small moments of humor in an otherwise dark and depressing story.
I thoroughly enjoyed her abilities you learned to use from beginning to end that range from being able to hear whispers from the past to her out of body experiences, which lets you control just your spirit side and leave your mortal body standing waiting for you to return. The dual reality mode or “the split” is where the game really shines the idea of controlling your character on two screens is very fun and something I haven’t played with before. This is where out of body experiences take place and give room for the creative puzzle solving the game offers. Being able to use spirit energy to trip fuses letting you use long since forgotten electric items in an old haunted hotel.
While in the dual reality I really enjoyed the somewhat different take on what Silent Hill used to portray. As in the real world you see normal things but in the land of the dead you see it all in a twisted disturbing way. You do also get cutscenes throughout the game where you see Marianne interreact with spirits and items while in this mode and it leads to some interesting interactions. You see medium doing what they do talking to spirits as you see on shows or in shops, but in the spirit world she is actually there physically touching and talking to them very interesting way to show this. Everything about Marianne kept me invested in the story and puzzles I was solving.
Along with puzzle solving the sound in the game is amazing I mentioned Marianne’s voice actress Kelly Burke killing it in the main roll, but another stand out was Troy Baker as “The Maw” the evil antagonist of the game who is a malevolent spirit that plays the role of the main villain of the game. To go back one more time though these two voice actors really stood out to me that doesn’t take away from the rest of the cast, all of them sounded amazing and never took away form the atmosphere of the game. Atmosphere is another thing this game does amazingly well.
The dark cramped rooms of the Niwa Hotel are done spectacularly well with the amazing sound design and lack of music. The tension this game is able to make you feel is amazing and though I did talk bad about the camera in the beginning of the story, I have to lend it to the camera for really emphasizing the situation you are in. With wide cinematic shots of Marianne as she walks up to the Niwa Hotel, or the cramped underbelly of the hotel where the camera is almost right behind her. The camera works its magic at the perfect times, the main issue being while walking in and out of rooms can be disorienting it can lead to missing a turn or just fumbling your controls for a moment. The game has a way of making you very invested in the story all while questioning what may come next.
Gameplay: 10/10-While puzzles have been a stable for horror games for a while the dual reality mode makes the feel fresh and unique.
Graphics: 9/10-Though majority of my playthrough was on a capable PC using game pass I loved how the game looked. Playing this on 4k however would probably look breathtaking in large cinematic shots.
Control: 7/10-Controls suffer due to the choice of fixed camera angles. Though it doesn’t really hurt you too much in larger areas the more restricting hallways really do give issues that lead to going in circles at some points.
Sound Design: 10/10– Voice acting, ambient noise, music, lack of music everything all of it was done very well and was a pleasant/ horrifying experience
Final Verdict: 9/10
The Medium is an amazing game and one that I think is great to being one of the first next gen titles to come to Xbox! Though the game is a bit of a slow burn at first it is a story that is amazing to experience. The dual reality idea was done beautiful and really captures both side of the world you can explore, as well as having amazing audio that was done masterfully. I highly recommend playing The Medium if you have an Xbox series X/S or if you have Game Pass on pc!