Developed and published by Bloober Team, The Medium is a third-person psychological horror game featuring dual-reality gameplay. Take on the role of Marianne and explore both the real and spirit worlds while uncovering mysteries and discovering answers to questions that have plagued her, for her whole life.
The Medium Details
Platform: Xbox Series X|S (digital download only) and PC
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Developer: Bloober Team
Publisher(s): Bloober Team SA
Genre: Psychological horror
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Not your typical psychological horror story
The Medium takes place in the late 1990s in Poland and is centred around a young woman named Marianne who has psychic abilities. As a medium, Marianne can see and explore the spirit world, a dark mirror reflection of reality where nightmares take form. The game begins with Marianne making the final preparations for her step-father Jack’s funeral at the family run funeral home. During this time we learn of Marianne’s troubling vision of a child’s murder.
Though, Marianne can’t quite tell if it is a nightmare, memory or premonition. As the final funeral preparations are in place, Marianne receives a strange phone call from a man who knows “what she is” and can provide all the answers to her questions. There’s a catch though, she must meet this man at the old abandoned Niwa Hotel. Marianne gets on her motorcycle and the story begins.
What I really enjoyed about The Medium is the game’s story and character development. The Bloober Team didn’t go the typical route with jump scares. Instead, they went with a story where your perspective changes your perception. The game deals with some pretty disturbing subject matters that you learn about but never in a way that tries to glorify it. Instead, it gives you two perspectives—the evil that was done and the story behind what led up to it. I can honestly say, The Medium is one of the best story-driven games that I have played in recent memory.
When it comes to gameplay, the biggest element that sets The Medium apart from other games in the genre is the dual-reality feature. This allows you to play in two separate worlds at the same time. On paper, it sounds pretty gimmicky but in reality it works pretty well.
Each reality is separately rendered and what you see in one is not necessarily what you see in the other. This often results in clues and things you need to do to advance spread across both realities. Thankfully, both Marianne’s are not independently controlled, which would have been a nightmare in my opinion. Instead, both entities are controlled at the same time. As neat as this gameplay feature is, Bloober Team didn’t overuse it. Roughly a third of the game makes use of dual-reality.
The Medium also makes use of semi-fixed cameras that help set the atmosphere and mood for the game. There are a variety of items to discover and Marianne has many abilities that you make good use of, in the game such as running, jumping and climbing ,to name a few. There are puzzles to solve, clues to find and doors to unlock that are never really too difficult to do. With the game being heavily focused on the story, I feel that Bloober Team did a great job with balancing action and storytelling in the game.
Gorgeous and unsettling atmosphere
The Medium‘s aesthetic and visual style is inspired by a famous Polish surrealist painter Zdzislaw Beksinski. The game’s environments are gorgeous and the level of detail is truly stunning. On both the Xbox Series X and PC the game uses ray-tracing, which helps bring the game to life. Not once while playing did I have any performance issues, which is a pretty amazing feat. Considering that at some points in the game two separate worlds are being rendered and played in at the same time, The Medium does a good job of showing off the power of the Xbox Series X.
On some occasions, I did have issues with The Medium‘s fixed cameras. This would lead me running in place around a corner or not being able to see an item. It didn’t happen too often but when it did it was annoying. On another note, the overall voice acting in The Medium is top notch. Most notably are Troy Baker as The Maw and Kelly Burke as Marianne. They did fantastic jobs and brought their respective characters to life in believable ways.
Bloober Team hired Arkadiusz Reikowski and legendary composer Akira Yamaoka, best known for the Silent Hill series, to compose the game’s soundtrack—both did a bang up job. It perfectly matches what’s happening on screen. For example, as you walk around the old abandoned Niwa Hotel hotel you can feel the sense of dread. While I was playing, I wore headphones the entire time and always felt like I had to look over my shoulder to see who was behind me. It’s these little things that combine with the graphics and sound that set the mood in the game perfectly.
The Medium is one of the best story-driven games in recent memory
The Medium is Xbox Series X|S’s first must have exclusive game and easily one of the best story-driven games that I have played in recent memory. It’s amazing to think that the Bloober Team, a company of less than 100 employees, has created such a unique, engaging and compelling experience. The dual-reality gameplay feature is never over used and helps to tell the game’s story in ways that make you think twice. Although the game does deal with some pretty mature themes, it never does it in a way that is grotesque or glorified.
You can expect to spend roughly between 8 to 10 hours to complete the game from start to finish. Which, in my opinion, is perfect. I was so wrapped up in the story and wondering what would come next that the time flew by. The only downside of The Medium is that once you play and beat the game, there is no reason to go back. For me that is ok but for others, it may not be.
The Medium has left a lasting impression with me and its story is one that I’ll be talking about for some time to come. The game ends with a cliffhanger, which I hope means there is still more to tell.
+ Fantastic story that will have you glued to your seat
+ Gorgeous environments that are highly detailed
+ Dual-reality is both a storytelling and gameplay device
+ Outstanding voice acting and score
– Zero replay value
– Semi-fixed camera angles sometimes cause control issues
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE MEDIUM
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5
Overall Rating 4.3/5 (86%)
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I’m a huge fan of horror games and the fact that this features dual-reality really interests me. It’s something I haven’t seen in a horror video game before.
I haven’t played this game yet but thanks to the review I’ll be picking it up.
2 things excite me.
1) It looks like an actual next-gen game.
2) Xbox hasn’t launched any new 1st party IP recently, so this should have some level of care.
I wonder how it compares to Little Hope. Played the former some months ago and really loved it.
The graphics on this game look amazing. I love games with a good story, and I’m a fan of anything supernatural! I’m interested to test out the dual world play as I’ve never experienced anything like that in a game! I’d be so excited to give it a try, and I think it’s a game my mom would enjoy watching me play!
Thanks for the awesome and honest review!
I love the setting and the dual reality gameplay which seems very interesting. I really want to play this game.
I’m tired of waiting for another Silent Hill game. I’m sure Medium is the best game to play meanwhile
Horror is something I’ve never really dabbled in before but this game has been on my “keep a lookout” list for a while. seeing the reviews are all over the place I’m really interested in seeing how it is.
I not a big spooky game fan, but it looks really well made. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Thanks for reviewing it Jon!
I was waiting for this game since I saw the first trailer, thanks Jon for the review!
I love horror games and this looks fantastic
Amazing looking game!
Great review, Jon! The thing that grabbed my attention was the dual-realty aspect and playing in two different worlds at the same time; makes for an innovative and interesting gameplay mechanic.
Great review, not a big horror person but would give this a try!
This game looks excellent! I’m a sucker for the spirit world and unsolved mysteries. Can’t wait to give it a go
Great review, I have always enjoyed these horror games dating back to silent hill. @herbs_to
Great review! I am a big fan of horror games with fixed camera angles from the PS1. This game looks like it will bring me back those memories.
Great review of The Medium, Jon! I am looking forward to the dual reality mechanic for both the gameplay and story telling and seeing how well the Bloober Team manages to execute it.
This game looks phenomenal! I’m so interested to play in two worlds at once. I think it’s going to be such a different way to experience a game! I’ve always been partial to games with a great story and I hear this one has one so it’s very high on my list of games to play! Great review! – @MallouhMo
Makes me excited to check this out! Can’t wait!
I think The Medium’s duality aspect, especially as someone as interested in rendering technology, is fascinating. Getting that level of asset rendering and running in real time would have been quite the effort! Glad to hear that the story is quite involved and deep, too.
Looking for a great story driven game to play. Thanks for the review! If I win I’m giving it to my teacher buddy as I don’t got an Xbox. Thanks for the chance!
This game gives me heavy rain vibes and I loved that game.
This game sounds so sick!!! Great Review
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