Publisher: Bloober Team
Developer: Bloober Team
Release Date: 01/28/2021
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You play as a woman named Marianne who is a psychic medium. You start out the game in your foster father’s funeral home, and this is where the game introduces basic mechanics that you will use throughout the rest of the game. It starts out very confusing at first, and honestly, the story is just barely coherent enough to keep up with but it constantly loses you in spots and then plays catch up again. The game clearly relies more on characters and atmosphere than storytelling as there’s no context to keep you engaged, no really long opening scene, just some dialogue that explains what Marianne is and what she can do. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, you will start to experience the scary stuff. Shadows on walls, strange sounds, and the “other side” looks very reminiscent of Silent Hill in both concept and design.
This is an adventure game with very little action. It’s mostly basic puzzle solving and object finding. You walk around areas reading notes, and signs, listening to spirit echos in objects, and picking up objects that will be used at a later point. Thankfully none of this was overbearing or focused too much on. It all felt pretty balanced and was light enough to where the exploration and atmosphere mostly stayed center stage. The various locales are fantastically designed and beautiful to look at. The “other side” was mostly created for puzzle-solving scenarios as you end up going back and forth between the two but at the same time. See, this is Bloober Team’s biggest project and something that’s been in development since 2012. They needed the hardware to render two worlds at once via split-screen. This really does tax your system as frames can drop by almost half in some areas even with DLSS enabled.
As you play the game these main elements are switched up constantly, and to be honest, it’s really well-paced and feels just right. Some areas I was mostly exploring in the real world then I would split off into the other side, and then there are some areas that have mirrors that allow you to go back and forth at will. These areas are the most puzzle intensive, but never difficult. With that being said, the game is very easy and only one small section in the game has any form of combat. The horror elements in the game are well done and I love the monster designs. There is a creature that does stalk you throughout the entire game in certain areas and these result in having to sneak around areas with barriers and hold your breath. The voice acting is superb and the performances are great. Everything in the game just sucks you in and I honestly didn’t stop playing until I finished the game.
I also never got lost or couldn’t ever figure something out on my own. The game is very linear and as long as you wander around examining everything that has a white dot on it you will find your way around. Since the game mostly focuses on the story there are times I got confused, but you get caught up with the cryptic stuff during main cut-scenes and in the end, the game was satisfying and had a nice conclusion. The game can be finished in about 6-8 hours, and there’s no replay value sadly. Sure, there are items to collect throughout the game, but I found pretty much everything in my first run-through. There are also no multiple endings so the game will end the exact same no matter what you do.
The game really has to be praised in the sound department as well. There are a lot of creepy ambient sounds and noises, and the voice acting for the monsters is just amazing. Despite the game being just about exploration and object hunting, and basic puzzle-solving, I never felt bored or wished the game gave me more. If the story and characters weren’t so interesting I’d probably complain about this as I’d want more gameplay, but we don’t always need complicated combat systems or deep RPG elements in every game. Bloober Team’s games tend to be a bit rough around the edges, but The Medium is rock-solid and shows they can make AAA titles with the best of them. I wish the game was optimized a little better, but with a fantastic story and characters, and gameplay that feels just right, as well as great pacing, I can’t complain much.