As the first true “next-gen console-exclusive” for Xbox, The Medium is a much-needed boost for Series S|X owners and, as a niche genre, a good fit for the Xbox Game Pass service (which will hopefully bring in players that might otherwise avoid the genre). To clear a few misconceptions first, despite the “psychological horror” label and gameplay trailers, The Medium is a linear, narrative-driven game with an unsettling atmosphere and several jump-scares - not dissimilar to Bloober Team’s prior games. Despite the shift in perspective and increased focus on puzzles – many revolving around the dual-world mechanic – this is not a survival-horror game, mechanically speaking, in the vein of Resident Evil or Silent Hill.
The Medium kicks off with protagonist Marianne returning to her foster father’s funeral home to lay him to rest. It’s a creepy and impactful prologue that frames the events you experience as being recounted to a mysterious figure, some point in the future. After coming to grips with the semi-fixed camera angles, the controls, and discovering a bit about Marianne’s past and personality, you’re tasked with solving a few basic puzzles. This sequence will give you an idea of the basic gameplay loop, your first taste of Marianne's ability to exist in both the physical and spirit world, and makes it clear from the start that she is a strong, selfless protagonist. Marianne has not only possessed her abilities since childhood but also used them countless times to help spirits pass on and convey messages to their loved ones.
…the bulk of the experience is an unexpectedly low-intensity affair, solving puzzles and hitting frequent story beats.
Excursions into the spirit world, either during the dual-world sequences or when shifting freely between them, offer more elaborate puzzles.
The Medium relies on brisk pacing, an oppressive atmosphere, and frequent narrative beats to keep your attention…
Enjoys games with awesome stories and characters, along with new and interesting hardware. Dislikes day-one patches and driver updates.
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Bloober Team S.A.
PC, Xbox Series
28 January 2021
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