Survival horror games have become a mainstay within the gaming industry, mainly due to the impact they made in the 1990s. You had everything from the burgeoning Resident Evil and Silent Hill franchises, to more unusual games such as the Clock Tower titles. More recently, adventure and exploration games have been becoming more popular.
Bloober Team has recently released a title called The Medium that not only pays homage to the survival horror games of the 90s but also combines that genre with the more contemporary adventure one. It’s even set in the 90s. Fortunately, however, it doesn’t feature 90s-era graphics.
In The Medium, you play as a young female protagonist named Marianne. The game is set in 1999 Poland (Bloober Team is a Polish developer, what do ya know?). Marianne possesses some seriously powerful psychic abilities but she can neither fully understand them nor control them. She has a special power where she can communicate with the spirits of deceased people.
She receives a call from a mysterious stranger one day who inspires her to investigate an abandoned communist resort (they actually had those?) called the Niwa Resort Luxury Hotel. There, she hopes to find out more about herself and her psychic abilities. But when she shows up at the decrepit resort, she is confronted by various dangers, including ghosts, mysterious puzzles to solve, and even more questions.
What I like about The Medium is that it’s not the typical jump-scare fare that you find with many survival horror games these days. Instead, the game paints a world of fear and tension that is delivered in the form of a super-creepy atmosphere and subtle cues that hint at danger. There’s the overall sense that something horrific could be around every corner.
Gameplay-wise, most of your time in The Medium will be spent creeping around the forlorn environments and looking for hidden items and clues. Luckily, Marianne can scan her immediate area for these. She can also send out a spiritual copy of herself by unleashing a short-lived astral projection and absorb residual emotional energy from certain locations to power her psyche.
The Medium big headline feature is the ability for Marianne to shift back and forth between two different dimensional planes. She can either dwell in the normal plane of reality or warp into a darker reflection of it. The darker one has some seriously striking visuals that can contest any similar games for the best in class—they’re that impressive. It sort of reminds me of the works of H.R. Giger, with weird twisted body parts blended in with the walls and ceilings, along with lots of slimy tendrils.
There are a lot of interesting puzzles that challenge your intellect. Fortunately, they’re not rage-inducingly hard like some other, similar games I’ve played. Whenever I can across puzzles that were uber-challenging and got stuck, it was usually because I simply hadn’t explored the environments enough.
As a game, The Medium is an “on-the-tracks” experience, in that it doesn’t offer you any choices that will shape the storyline’s outcome. Therefore, it doesn’t come with a ton of replay value. However, it is a very trippy game to occupy your time with—in all, the game can be completed in anywhere from 10 to 14 hours depending on how much of a “rush-through” gamer you are.
Whether you’re a fan of old-school survival games or modern adventure games, you really can’t go wrong with The Medium. It has some super-creepy environments, good world-building and writing, and fantastic graphics.
The Mediumhas some pretty good graphics so you’ll need a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. Therefore, you may just want to invest in a superior gaming rig:
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