Wednesday, December 1

The Medium is a chilling horror game divided between two amazing realities

The medium it’s an interesting Xbox exclusive.

Microsoft’s largest console gaming philosophy has been to continue to support the latest generation of Xbox One while offering enhanced versions of those same games on Xbox Series X and S. However, The medium It is exclusive to current generation consoles and PCs, without an Xbox One version.

According to developer Bloober Team, the technical limitations found in the state-of-the-art hardware were inhibiting his vision of a psychological horror game taking place in two different realities simultaneously.

After my time with The mediumI am happy to say that the developer’s decision has paid off, allowing you to take full advantage of the most robust hardware to deliver a unique and gripping horror experience.

The best of both worlds

In The medium, you play as a medium named Marianne who is troubled by visions of the murder of a child. After receiving a mysterious phone call, he travels to an abandoned hotel in search of answers and encounters a greater supernatural threat.

From the beginning The medium Cleverly establishes Marianne, a troubled orphan who recently lost her adoptive father, as an understanding character who is easy to support. At the same time, you can see his warmer side through an endearing friendship with a young spirit called ‘Sadness’.

Having these center hooks helps keep The medium ingrained throughout the 10-hour campaign, even as the plot gets a bit complicated as it unravels the backstories of the hotel’s former residents. That investment in Marianne is even more important, as you sometimes have to play as two versions of her. This is where The mediumThe “double reality game” enters into force. As a medium, Marianne can control an astral version of herself in the spirit world, and in certain cases, you will have to master both forms at the same time.

In general, Bloober uses this presumption to outstanding effect. From an art direction perspective, it is impressive to see two geographically similar but aesthetically different settings in front of you simultaneously. The dark and dilapidated corridors of the abandoned hotel contrast nicely with the apocalyptic orange tones and corpse-strewn floors of the spirit realm, especially in the stunning 4K HDR of the Xbox Series X. Loud sound design, like the creaking of the Floorboards and the crackle of lightning in the real world and the moans and sliding sounds of the spirit world, further adds to the chilling atmosphere.

In the meantime, you’ll control Marianne in the third person through fixed camera angles, a uniformly smart move on Bloober’s part to evoke the claustrophobic feel of classic horror games while ensuring that gamers don’t sit back. overwhelmed by handling two characters at once. To that end, Bloober has even recruited legendary Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka, who has produced haunting work for the spirit world to accompany Arkadiusz Reikowski’s equally compelling soundtrack from Bloober to the real world.

The dual reality of the Middle

On top of all that, Bloober makes sure that much of what you do in one world informs the other. There is a clever synergy at play between the two Mariannes, as they must work together to progress. For example, ‘Spirit Marianne’ can harness the energy of ‘spirit wells’, which she can use to flip switches for ‘Human Marianne’ to turn on in her world. There are also some pretty tense and mind-blowing moments when Marianne in the real world experiences an ‘out-of-body experience’, shifting full control to her spirit form to clear the way before she breaks away from separation (visualized through a disintegrating effect).

Even on a fundamental moment-to-moment level of play, there is an element of satisfying surprise to the game knowing that Bloober can, at any moment, instantly switch you between Mariannes or even force you to control both simultaneously.

“The medium he also does an exceptional job alternating between creating threats in both the real and spiritual world to ensure you never feel too safe wherever you are. “

Unfortunately, while these dual reality scenarios keep the game fresh, they suffer from a general lack of difficulty. I mean, it’s not so much the riddles to be solved, but the rudimentary obstacles the Mariannes must clear in order to progress one another. Marianne’s dual sequences get appreciably more complex and inventive towards the end of the game, particularly in a memorable late-game scene involving a dimension-shifting dollhouse, but it’s a shame they weren’t so well implemented earlier.

A terrifying and relentless threat

The dual reality of the Middle

The medium He also does an exceptional job of alternating between creating threats in both the real and spiritual world to make sure you never feel too safe wherever you are. The main way the game does this is through The Maw, a mysterious and terrifying entity that serves as the main antagonist. The medium. In many ways, The Maw wonderfully reminds people like Mr. X and Nemesis of the Resident Evil series – a terrifying figure that relentlessly pursues you throughout the game and leaves you constantly guessing when it will appear. Plus, you often won’t even be able to see The Maw properly, requiring you to carefully look for pulses in the air and pay attention to a series of chillingly effective “hot and cold” vibrating signals on your controller.

Making The Maw even more haunting is an incredible performance from Troy Baker, who is completely unrecognizable on paper. While the prolific actor has played many roles in his career (notably tough and rough guys like The last of us‘Joel or Telltale’s Batman), his turn as The Maw is unlike anything you’ve ever heard him, peppered with guttural, anguished screams and raspy, breathless whispers.

The only real problem with The Maw is that some of Marianne’s encounters with him leave a lot to be desired. Overall, Marianne is a bit stiff to control, which is fine, even preferable, as you slowly explore dual environments. Rather, this means that some scripted sequences in which The Maw is chasing you can lead to a quick death when Marianne isn’t spinning as fast as you’d like.

Plus, there are some stealth encounters with The Maw that feel painfully dated, with generic rooms containing some obviously arranged items for you to crouch down and walk between when the beast looks away. However, in general, these don’t happen too often, and they’re certainly not enough to spoil the palpable sense of dread instilled by the ever-present jaws.

A four star hotel experience

The medium it’s a great horror experience. Although some puzzles and stealth encounters might have needed more work, these issues are easily overcome by the constant unrest produced by the game’s brilliant parallel worlds, remarkable presentation, and a truly unforgettable antagonist.

Put all of that together, and Bloober’s created something of a modern horror classic.

The medium launches on Xbox Series X / S and PC on January 28. The game will also be available through Xbox Game Pass for console and PC from day one.

Image Credit: Xbox

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