When The Medium was revealed last year, it looked like one of the more promising offerings on the Xbox Series X. The psychological horror elements powered by more advanced hardware made it stand out among a crowded lineup.
The reveal had a Evil Within vibe, and the visuals were compelling enough to force me to pause and admire the work. After a short delay, The Medium was released and its different from what I was expecting.
Instead of a tense and action-oriented affair, the project by Bloober Team was slower-paced and puzzle-centric.
I was expecting a Polish version of Silent Hill, but The Medium is more akin to Supermassive Games Dark Pictures Anthology. Its a narrative-driven game with an air of mystery as players find themselves controlling Marianne, the title character. Shes the medium in question and dealing with the death of her adopted father. With the last thread of family gone, she feels unmoored with the supernatural powers shes been dealing with all her life.
A PLACE OF SECRETS
That malaise changes when she receives a mysterious phone call telling her to go to the Niwa Resort for answers about her abilities. Upon arriving, she discovers that its a dilapidated compound from Polands Communist past. Its a place overflowing with secrets, and the player has to uncover them using Mariannes powers.
Bloober Team teaches players how that works early on and sets up the building blocks for the campaigns advanced puzzles later on. Marianne has the ability to find hidden objects in a room and feel emotions tied to them. These are called echoes and her powers let her listen to moments of the past. If players pick up a telephone, they can hear 15-year-old conversations tied to the item.
Her more important power is that she can enter into and interact with the spirit world. Through her adventures, shell encounter points where shell exist in the real world and spirit plane at the same time. Bloober Team splits the screen showing Marianne exploring the two realms that mirror each other structurally.
Its gimmicky but presents players with unusual puzzles. Because Marianne is venturing through two places at once, obstacles in the real world could prevent her from exploring rooms and spaces in the spirit realm and vice versa. Players often have to unlock a path in one world to proceed in the other.
The Medium also presents players with another solution. Marianne can explore more places in the spirit world by performing an out-of-body experience. By untethering her essence from her corporeal form, she can rush through out-of-reach spirit places but only for a few seconds. She then returns to her body.
THE MEDIUMS POWERS
The protagonist also has a Spirit Shield to protect herself from the realms swarming insects and Spirit Blast that can activate machines in the real world. These abilities require energy from Spirit Wells, a resource that players must discover and manage.
Bloober Team layers these gameplay elements into an elaborate story as Marianne explores the resort ruins. She meets a spirit-realm entity named Sadness, who helps guide players through the initial mysteries of the Communist era locale. Its where a massacre took place, but beyond that, Marianne zeroes in on specific inhabitants who hold answers to her past.
Finding them wont be easy because Niwa Resort is host to a few restless spirits who have mutated and turned into outright monsters. Players run across a Hound, a Childeater and an unkillable Maw. They stalk Marianne and others while creating most of the visceral moments. The protagonist sneaks past the creatures or runs from them down winding corridors. Players cant fight them directly.
Although these confrontations are exciting, theyre also problematic. Moments such as the chase scenes arent well designed and have to be played multiple times before players figure out where to run. The stealth scenarios are equally infuriating mostly because monsters such as the Maw are invisible if they end up in the real world. It can be hard to spot amid a game thats generally dark.
The second drawback to The Medium is that the visuals are glitchy at times. For all the graphical feats, the game has strange flares and visual miscues that take players out of the experience.
The third major flaw is that The Medium relies on found objects to tell the history of Niwa and the major characters in the campaign. Often, these storytelling elements are too vague or confusing.
Players have to figure out which character is referenced or how theyre connected. The awkwardness takes the thunder out of some of the major revelations.
The Medium recovers some of its flow toward the end, but still, the finale is uncertain and disappointing. The horror game is a mixed bag at best, one with a few clever puzzles and an intriguing story, but which doesnt quite pay off on its promises.
- 11 new Android games from the last week: The best, worst, and everything in between (3/29/21 - 4/4/21) - Android Police - April 4th, 2021
- Classic games like chess and Sudoku are now easier to play on iPhones and iPads - TechRadar - April 4th, 2021
- SwitchArcade Round-Up: 'Dungeon & Puzzles', 'Stick Fight: The Game', and Today's Other New Releases and Sales - Touch Arcade - April 4th, 2021
- The Three Best and Worst Games of March 2021 - COGconnected - April 4th, 2021
- Google Play Pass now has over 800 games, apps - HT Tech - April 4th, 2021
- The Easiest Ways to Boost Your Gamerscore from the Xbox Games of March 2021 - TheXboxHub - April 4th, 2021
- Game of the Month: March 2021's Best PS5, PS4 Games - Pure PlayStation - April 4th, 2021
- This Weeks VR Game Roundup: New Archery Game, Kitchen Island VR - VR Fitness Insider - April 4th, 2021
- Best New Android Games This Week: The Wake, Quick Fire, Dual Summoners, and More - DroidGamers - April 4th, 2021
- It Takes Two review: This is how it runs on PC - Laptop Mag - April 4th, 2021
- Pillars of Active Aging - Old School Puzzles And Games To Promote Active Aging Brain Health - LNP | LancasterOnline - March 4th, 2021
- Tvinnr: Basic tips to help you enjoy this relaxing puzzle game - Pocket Gamer - March 4th, 2021
- Maquette is a neat puzzle game that packs an emotional punch - The Next Web - March 4th, 2021
- Our most anticipated indie games of 2021 - Rock Paper Shotgun - March 4th, 2021
- MonkeyBox 2: Cards! is an upcoming puzzle adventure game for iOS from TheCodingMonkeys - Pocket Gamer - March 4th, 2021
- Play with Gravity in Gravifire on Xbox and Switch - TheXboxHub - March 4th, 2021
- Lovin Games Weekly - There is a new Aliens game on the way - Lovin Dublin - March 4th, 2021
- It Takes Two Isn't Focusing on Replayability, Won't Have Collectibles - GameRant - March 4th, 2021
- The Video Games to Play This Month: Get Tiny with Maquette, It Takes Two, and More! - The Portland Mercury - March 4th, 2021
- 50% Kemco RPG and Puzzle Games on PS Store - GLYFE Nation - March 4th, 2021
- Worst Pokmon Spin-off Games Nintendo Should Never Remake - Screen Rant - March 4th, 2021
- Super Rare Games giving immersive puzzle game Creaks a physical Switch release next week - GoNintendo - March 4th, 2021
- Every Uncharted Game, Ranked Worst To Best | Screen Rant - Screen Rant - March 4th, 2021
- 10 Games We Need To See On PSVR2 That Could Actually Happen On PS5 - TheGamer - March 4th, 2021
- PC Review - 'Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead' - WorthPlaying.com - March 4th, 2021
- The Next Hawks Coach Will Have to Solve the Trae Young Puzzle - The Ringer - March 4th, 2021
- Sponsored: 5 games that make you think like a programmer - Gamasutra - March 4th, 2021
- Inked review - "If only looks were everything" | Articles - Pocket Gamer - March 4th, 2021
- From Portal to Witcher 3: The games people cheat at the most! - European Gaming Industry News - March 4th, 2021
- 5 Best PC Boxing games to play in 2021 - Gameranx - March 4th, 2021
- What Are the Most Popular Types of Mobile Game? | TechQuila - TechQuila - February 19th, 2021
- The Legend of Zelda games ranked! - The Guardian - February 19th, 2021
- Wordsmyth is a beautiful daily word game coming soon to iOS and Android - Pocket Gamer - February 19th, 2021
- Review: She Remembered Caterpillars - Movies Games and Tech - February 19th, 2021
- Artie raises $10 million as it pivots to make instant games - VentureBeat - February 19th, 2021
- Fortnite Creative gets callout for puzzles and platformers - AltChar - February 19th, 2021
- Top 10 games to download and play first on your new Apple iPhone - Gadget Bridge - February 19th, 2021
- Outer Wilds launches this summer on Nintendo Switch - Shacknews - February 19th, 2021
- Steam Developer Banned After Trying to Trick Users About Positive Reviews - VICE - February 19th, 2021
- Global Games and Puzzles Market 2020 Industry Analysis, Key Drivers, Business Strategy, Opportunities and Forecast to 2025 Express Keeper - Express... - February 19th, 2021
- Next 10 Classic Horror Games To Play If You Liked The Medium - TheGamer - February 17th, 2021
- Game stores seeing an increase in new customers since the COVID-19 pandemic - WeAreGreenBay.com - February 17th, 2021
- The First 10 Games Released On The PS2 (In Chronological Order) - TheGamer - February 17th, 2021
- Zynga Expects Its Mobile Gaming Empire to Grow More Than 30% In 2021 - Motley Fool - February 17th, 2021
- 8 Underrated Open-World Games (That Came Out In The Last 5 Years) - GameRant - February 17th, 2021
- The Room 4: Old Sins Is Out For PC, And Prettier Than Ever - Kotaku - February 17th, 2021
- Knight's Retreat Review - Chess but not! - TheXboxHub - February 17th, 2021
- Soapbox: We Were Here, the Free PS4 Game No One Will Play with Me - Push Square - February 17th, 2021
- PS5 : HuniePop 2, another title that joins Twitch's list of banned games - Explica - February 17th, 2021
- 10 VR Games That Don't Give You Motion Sickness - TheGamer - February 17th, 2021
- 10 Things You Never Knew About The Origins Of Tetris | Game Rant - GameRant - February 17th, 2021
- Games of the week: The Medium, Spire Blast, Encodya and Solas 128 - Inverness Courier - February 17th, 2021
- Nokia 5.4 review this ones for the stock Android fans on a tight budget - Business Insider India - February 17th, 2021
- Thorny Puzzle Title Room To Grow Is Coming To PC This Month - Bleeding Cool News - February 14th, 2021
- Imaginative Puzzle Game QV Heading To Steam | TheGamer - TheGamer - February 14th, 2021
- 10 Open World Games That Have No Combat | Game Rant - GameRant - February 14th, 2021
- Schell Games Talks I Expect You To Die 2 And VR's Future - UploadVR - February 14th, 2021
- ConnecTank Is a Multiplayer Tank Battle and Puzzle Game Coming This Fall - SuperParent - February 14th, 2021
- Best Valentines Day games for couples: top titles to play with your loved one - TechRadar - February 14th, 2021
- Outer Wilds And The Best Games That Use Time Loops - TheGamer - February 14th, 2021
- The Most Peaceful Games of 2020, Ranked | ScreenRant - Screen Rant - February 14th, 2021
- Best new mobile games on iOS and Android this February - Metro.co.uk - February 14th, 2021
- PS4 Update: Download This New F2P PlayStation 4 Game - RealSport101 - February 14th, 2021
- The Best Free PC Games of Multiple Category in 2021 - TechnoSports - February 14th, 2021
- The DeanBeat: Has the game industry hit its peak with crazy valuations or just begun its growth? - VentureBeat - February 14th, 2021
- TouchArcade Game of the Week: 'Knightin'+' - Touch Arcade - February 14th, 2021
- Numskull Games Offers Sneak Peek At Upcoming Titles, Reveals RICO London - TheGamer - February 14th, 2021
- Recursive Puzzle Game, Maquette, to be Released in March - mxdwn.com - February 11th, 2021
- Tackle thorny problems in 'Room to Grow' a plant pushing puzzle game launching on Steam for PC & Mac 25th February 2021! - Gamasutra - February 11th, 2021
- PS5 and PS4 free game bonus: Grab a friend and download co-op puzzler for free - Express - February 11th, 2021
- Somethings Fishy About This Steam Games Very Positive Reviews - Kotaku - February 11th, 2021
- Human Fall Flat Was Originally Designed To Be Portal Meets Limbo - TheGamer - February 11th, 2021
- Tilting Point will invest up to $60 million in user acquisition for Loop Games Match 3D game - VentureBeat - February 11th, 2021
- Every App And VR Game Coming To Oculus App Lab For Quest - UploadVR - February 11th, 2021
- Nuts Review- Hiding Above the Trees, Looking For Squirrels - DualShockers - February 11th, 2021
- A bit about our currently nameless game company, and what we're working on at the moment - Gamasutra - February 11th, 2021
- 'Breath Of The Wild' Reinvented Zelda Games. 'Bowser's Fury' Does That For Mario - Mashable India - February 11th, 2021
- Slipways was the best demo in the Steam Games Festival, but it's gone now - Rock Paper Shotgun - February 9th, 2021
- Move Over, Mother 3 - THESE Nintendo Games Should Be Localized Too - CBR - Comic Book Resources - February 9th, 2021
- Solve puzzles in a recursive world where everything is simultaneously tiny and massive - PC Gamer - February 9th, 2021