About The Medium
The Medium - Narrative-Driven + Puzzle-Solving + Exploration
Simultaneously Walk the Material Realm and the Spiritual Realm
It Starts With A Dead Girl
The Medium is a third-person psychological horror game that follows the narrative of a medium, Marianne, as she explores the remains of a haunted communist resort in Poland. Developed and published by Bloober Team, who also developed Blair Witch and Layers of Fear, The Medium uses split-screen to display dual realities that Marianne explores as she uncovers dark mysteries hidden in the remains of Niwa resort. The Medium was released in January 2021 and is available on Windows and Xbox Series X/S. In September 2021, The Medium will be released for PlayStation 5.
Between Two Worlds
While players will first be introduced to the game’s material realm, The Medium will quickly teach players how to use Marianne’s ability to walk simultaneously in the material realm and the spirit realm. By splitting the screen in half -- sometimes vertically or horizontally -- the gloomy world of the abandoned Niwa resort in Poland contrasts with a parallel haunting spirit world that’s populated with walls of skin and floors of bone flowers. The Medium’s use of fixed camera angles is reminiscent of Resident Evil and Silent Hill, evoking the chilling but fitting sense of always being watched.
Concept Rating: 5/5
Silent Hill Dream Team
The world The Medium explores is stunning, with marvelous levels of detail and texture. If anything, the fixed camera angles elevate the experience. The spirit world is unmistakable and striking, while the material world feels grounded and familiar. The lighting and framing work perfectly to evoke the various moods throughout the narrative: curiosity, anxiety, and pure horror.
One major drawback is the character models. Especially when put in contrast with such flawless landscapes, the character models feel cheaply made and poorly polished. The animations are awkward and don’t quite seem to impact the world with the right amount of weight, whether it be in cinematic cutscenes or just in walk cycles throughout dingy rooms. One small grace is that most of the player’s attention will be on the world around Marianne, working to spot the difference between them, rather than on Marianne herself.
The Medium employed Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka and renowned voice actor Troy Baker to drive the audio of the game, with delightful results. The soundtrack is suitably anxiety-inducing, and Troy Baker’s performance as the Maw will set your skin crawling.
Graphics & Audio Rating: 4/5
The parallel views The Medium employs allow for unique puzzle solving. While a staircase might appear intact in the spirit world, the same staircase may be crumbled and in disrepair in the material world, forcing the player to interact with one of the worlds in a way that affects the other to get around problems like these. Though these puzzles don’t offer many eureka moments that make you feel particularly clever, they also aren’t difficult enough to staunch the flow of the narrative that is the main focus of the game.
While more could have been done with the puzzles, the narrative is paced well, with a contagious sense of tension. The mystery The Medium offers will drive players forward to uncover answers, while heartbreaking emotional stories act as an anchor through the bone-chilling landscapes. Most strikingly, of course, is the game’s villain -- the Maw -- who will force players to question the nature of evil.
Gameplay Rating: 4/5
The Medium is an innovative title from Bloober Team that’s driven by a great story and a fantastic atmosphere. With some of the best sound design and voice acting in the industry and thrilling horror sequences, The Medium is an exciting new look at what the genre has to offer.
Replayability Rating: 3/5
The Medium is a horror game that uses split-screen mechanics to explore and juxtapose a haunted hotel and the nightmarish landscape of the game’s spirit world, all while untangling the strings of a mystery underneath.