The Medium is a horror video game developed by Bloober Team. The game is set in Poland in 1999. You play as Marianne, a spirit medium that helps troubled souls seek final respite. She has a recurring dream of a man shooting a young girl by a lake.
Marianne is grieving over the death of her foster father when she receives a mysterious phone call from a man named Thomas. He claims to know of her abilities and offers to explain the origin of Marianne’s powers, as well as the meaning of the dream. However, Thomas is only willing to talk if Marianne meets him at the Niwa Workers’ Resort. Niwa had been shuttered by the government after the Niwa Massacre years earlier. Marianne is aware that this is a place that will have a strong connection to the spirit realm. Regardless, she’s determined to get answers.
The Medium carries some weight on its shoulders being that it can only be played on Xbox Series X/S. Seeing as there are very few games that this currently applies to, expectations are raised. Unfortunately, this isn’t a game that genuinely takes advantage of this powerhouse of a machine. Honestly, I’m not even sure why it wasn’t released for Xbox One or Xbox One X at the very least. This is just an observation, I am in no way saying that this game is bad looking. In fact, it’s a really good looking game. The cutscenes in particular look great. Although, during gameplay it’s a bit rough around the edges.
One aspect of The Medium that I really enjoyed was the hellish imagery throughout. This is a very cinematic game and it leads to some really cool looking visuals. Also, the voice acting is really high quality. It’s all accompanied by a wonderfully gothic/melancholic soundtrack.
The gameplay is a major weakness in my opinion. You play as Marianne from a third person perspective with semi-static cameras throughout. This just goes to show that this can still be really effective in modern horror games, take note Capcom. It will all feel very familiar for anyone that grew up playing games like Resident Evil or especially Silent Hill. The issue is that you’re never really doing much. Most of the game sees you simply running in straight lines with little to no room for deviation. It’s not completely a walking simulator but it comes close.
The sections that see you moving between the physical and spirt realms are the strongest in the game. This innovative mechanic leads to some enjoyable puzzles but they are far too simplistic. Also, there are a couple of stealth based sections that see you avoiding being captured by a very creepy creature known as The Maw. You’ll be chased at times which certainly got my heart pumping hard. Although, these parts are way too short and far too easy.
Thankfully, the narrative is compelling. This drove me to press on, even if it can be somewhat hard to follow. There are plenty of collectibles that help fill in gaps within the games backstory.
Overall, The Medium is available to play via Game Pass. This makes it absolute must play in my opinion. However, if it wasn’t on Game Pass I’d recommend getting it on sale. It’s a decent throwback to classic horror games but lacks the gameplay to be considered a great game.
The Final Score - 7/10