PC Review Code Provided by Bloober Team
It’s not often that a game drops that does so well to mix familiarity with a brand new experience. Somehow, Bloober Team managed to pull this off with their latest released game, The Medium. This game brings a unique story for the player to investigate their way through while facing the blending of two separate realities. After playing through it, I have to say that it is a must-play title that just has a few technical issues to deal with.
Marianne grew up with a standard life, aside from the fact that she had the powers of a spiritual Medium. The day that she went to prepare her father Jack for his funeral, she received a strange urgent call for her to go to Niwa. Something about this call really pulled at her and so she went to find out what the caller wanted. It was when she pulls up to an abandoned resort that she realizes that things aren’t going to be as straight-forward as she hoped. Little did she know the dark secrets that lie within Niwa for her to uncover in both the real and spiritual world.
I started playing this game using Mouse and Keyboard. I have to say that these controls were extremely clunky, the player movement felt like modern tank controls, and there was a terrible connection with the movement of my mouse when investigating objects up close. Switching to the gamepad was easily the best decision at the start of my playthrough because everything felt more fluid and connected. They definitely did not expect anybody to experience this game using the standard PC controls and optimized it for the controller.
As you make your way through the game, you will quickly realize that the controls are based on which way the camera angle is facing and not the player’s character. Since the camera angle changes as you make your way through rooms and hallways, you will need to change the direction you are holding for the character to move the way you want them to. This wasn’t a problem for me, but I can see this being a bit frustrating for some players as this is essentially modernized classic controls that we had from older games.
Once you get your first instance where you are playing through both realities at the same time, you will find the feature I think was easily the smartest move to give each side their own control. To interact with objects in the real world, you press X or Square, and to interact with objects in the spiritual world, you press A or Cross. This simple design choice to give each world its own interaction button and then maintain that throughout the game regardless if you are in one reality or both is pure simplistic control clarity.
Throughout the game, you will have to solve a multitude of puzzles and find key objects around the world. These objects and puzzles are typically sectioned off into areas, so it’s not as widespread as the classic Silent Hill games that had you wandering all around for one specific item, but progress is based off of solving things piece by piece. While you are looking for this specific object, there are lore nuggets to find and uncover in the form of notes and verbal memories you can unlock using your Medium power. But bear in mind, it won’t always be simple “find-and-place” as they through curves into these puzzles to keep them challenging.
When you are playing with a character in the spiritual reality, you will find yourself able to use powers. To do this, you have to find a charged alter and absorb the energy from it. While you may need to give that alter power somehow, once it is charged you can just keep grabbing energy from it. This energy can then be used to either put a shield around your character for a short period of time or to give off a burst of energy that can be used to either unblock a path or spark a generator (which will give power to the generator in the real world).
Other than that, having a charged energy is also able to be used to get away from an enemy that grabs you. This is only effective once and you lose the full charge from using it, but at least you get away for another chance to finish the scene. Aside from this ability, you will find yourself sneaking through areas with the demon lurking as you have no true way to fight it. All actual finishing moments happen by either solving a puzzle that brings their demise or through a cutscene, which is fine since it is basically just using the power to escape from being grabbed being used more directly.
Your Medium power is also useful in the real world as well though. With it, at no use of the energy mentioned before, you can use it to see something hiding. It is the same with how you unlock the memories of items for lore nuggets, but you can do that while searching a room for something important for either progress or lore reasoning.
I absolutely love the way the two worlds both blend and contrast from each other! The ability to make the real world look so broken down and abandoned yet not disturbing while the spiritual world looks like a land of broken flesh and manifested memories just goes so well together. Easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing yet quite disturbing art style I have seen.
All of the voice-acting is very well done and felt genuine throughout from all characters. The sound effects were all very well matching, including what I would have imagined aspects from the spiritual world would have sounded like. Plus they chose to give is soft music throughout the game, aside from climactic moments, to the point that there were even moments with no music. This mixture allowed me to truly experience the story and its impact throughout the playthrough.
Unfortunately, the game would be the same on the second playthrough. The story is a bit convoluted, so if you are looking to clarify some details or perhaps find some lore nuggets that you may have missed, then it could be worth playing through the game again. But as far as the gameplay itself, it doesn’t give you a reason to play through it again.
The overall game optimization! Even playing this game with a GTX 3090 graphics card, I found my visuals dropping down to 10-20 FPS. This didn’t happen too often, but it honestly shouldn’t happen at all. The developers need to take some time to optimize this game and patch it in so that this doesn’t remain a consistent problem.
Speaking of optimization, there weren’t very many glitches in the game, but when there were it took up a whole section. For me, it was one of the areas near the end of the game where I experienced heavy glitches. I was having dialogue moments trigger, but nothing was being said, and since you can’t interact with anything until the dialogue finishes I couldn’t do anything but wait. Sometimes I had to find the right spot to go to in order to trigger this dialogue, but it isn’t in a set pathway so why should I have had to do that? Even interacting with objects would give me no dialogue at all, but the “skip dialogue” option was there. Unfortunately, there was a whole section of dialogue lore that I had to miss out on because of this… luckily, I still feel that all my lore questions were answered, so it was just a frustration and not a true issue.
The Medium is a unique experience with an amazing story! I thoroughly enjoyed my playthrough of this game and only wish that they were able to optimize it better before releasing it. Aside from that one technical fallacy, I highly recommend this game to any horror and puzzle game fans. It is definitely a game you don’t want to pass on because it truly blends the experience we got from classic horror titles with a modernized twist and crazy concept.
An enthusiast for all things Horror and often finding myself playing Indie games over AAA. I enjoy writing for games in both the journalist and creative capacity. If I’m not writing or gaming, you can find me at a theme park or convention.
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