By Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee on February 1, 2021
I'm a huge fan of the Layers of Fear series and the Blair Witch game, which are all games created by Bloober Team. So when I heard about their brand new game, The Medium, I was over the moon, especially because it's a third person game this time around (which always makes a horror game a little bit better to handle, at least in my opinion). The game was released on January 28th, so you get one guess as to what I have been doing last weekend!
The Medium tells the story of a woman called Marianne, who is the protagonist of this game. We meet her on a sad day. Her adoptive father has passed away, so she is taking care of the final things and I really mean final, because her father Jack was running a morgue when he was still alive. She is clipping his tie pin to his tie and wrapping it around his neck. Starting a horror game in a morgue sounds like an excellent idea and it immediately sets an eerie mood.
Marianne is a Medium and, because of this, is able to help lost spirits to cross over to the spirit world. It's a gift and a curse for her, because now she has to help Jack, her adoptive father to make his final journey. As you can imagine, this is quit emotional for Marianne and, as is often the case in such situations (at least in movies and games), right when you're at your breaking point and ready to burst into tears, somebody calls you on the phone. Marianne wants to get rid of this person quickly, so she tells him to find another morgue, but this guy on the phone knows about Marianne and her gift and, more importantly, is in dire need of help! In return he says he can give her all the answers that she has been searching for, ever since she first started experiencing the effects of her gift. Still confused about this whole thing, Marianne decides to at least go and see this man and find out if he can really provide her with the answers to all the questions that she has.
The mystery man told Marianne to go to the Niwa Resort, a once beautiful place to spend your time in luxury and leisure, but now an old, abandoned place no one bothers to go to anymore. The front gate is locked, but that doesn't stop Marianne (or me, for that matter). After a short walk through a forest, we enter a ruined complex and it's Medium time. Because, as Marianne herself sees it: "If a place has a story to tell, I guess I was there to listen." When this happens, the game goes into split screen mode. The screen is split down the middle, creating two halves, either left and right or top and bottom. On one side of the screen you will see Marianne in the present of the real, material world. On the other side, the game paints a whole different picture; here you will see a spirit version of Marianne roaming around in the spirit version of the real world. When you move Marianne, both versions of her will move simultaneously on both sides of the screen. These Medium moments are awesome, and I have never seen anything like it being done in a video game before.
The spirit world is a dangerous place. Luckily, being a medium, Marianne has a couple of tricks up her sleeve. She can use an out-of-body experience, so her spirit can explore on her own, leaving her physical body to rest in place. But beware, because your body can survive only for a short time without its spirit. Marianne can also use her Spirit Shield to ward off evil entities and she can use her Insight to discover hidden objects in the environment. And, last but not least, Marianne's spirit form can absorb energy and use it an energy blast to kick start certain objects. Later on in the game, you will not only play spirit and material world at the same time, but you can also switch between both worlds by making clever us of mirrors. I realize this all may sound a bit confusing, but while playing the game it makes total sense and works like a charm!
What makes me like the horror games of Bloober Team so much are the excellent puzzles and that they always come up with new stuff. Marianne's special spirit abilities offer many new possibilities in terms of gameplay. I simply loved a puzzle later in the game that involves a dollhouse and a lot of switching between the spirit world and the material one. By exploring and searching the environments (don't forget to use your Insight here, ladies and gentlemen) you can collect every item you'll need to complete this puzzle. I thought it was excellent and loved it to pieces.
I think everyone who loves a good horror / thriller game should definitely try The Medium. IT has great characters, an intricate story and damn challenging puzzles for you to solve. The entire game offers you approximately eleven hours of gameplay, depending on your puzzle skills and I can only say that I thought it was truly exciting from head to tail. Marianne has to unravel mysteries and also discovers things she didn't yet know about her own troubled passed. Playing The Medium truly was a thrilling experience and I don't think it comes as a surprise when I tell you that I loved every creepy minute of this game!
January 28, 2021