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‘The Medium’ game review: Old school adventure horror meets next-gen gaming


In a world where most games feel the same, The Medium brings back the classic adventure game with a unique twist

If you saw the images with this article and thought that The Medium was an action game where you get to shoot monsters, you would not be at fault. While this game could have gone down the easy route of slapping on a first person shooter camera and calling it a day, it instead took a bold step of adopting the core mechanics of the once popular adventure game genre. This sets it apart from other games, leaving it free to weave its compelling ghost story.

The Medium

  • Developer & Publisher: Bloober Team
  • Price: ₹2,499 on PC ; ₹3,999 Xbox Series X or play free with the Gamepass Subscription

Set in gloomy Krakow, Poland, you play as Marianne, a woman with the psychic ability to not only communicate with the dead, but also project herself into the spirit realm. Marianne (played by Kelly Burke) receives a mysterious phone call which sends her to the mysterious Niwa Resort, an abandoned — and quite obviously haunted — place. She sets on a path to find out the source of her powers, all while a monster known as The Maw hunts her relentlessly.

As a big fan of environmental storytelling, I found the Niwa Resort’s ghastly past fascinating. The Medium is a lot like The Haunting anthology series on Netflix in which ghosts are tied to the living in interesting ways — especially Sadness, a masked little girl and The Maw.

If you enjoyed point-and-click adventure games such as Alone In The Dark or Grim Fandango, you will love The Medium. Featuring pre-rendered backgrounds with fixed camera angles as interacting with elements or solving puzzles, The Medium uses the duality of its world to create its puzzles, sending the screen into a split as you control Marianne and her spirit form, sometimes at the same time.

Screenshot from ‘The Medium’

Screenshot from ‘The Medium’
 
| Photo Credit:
Bloober Team

This feature carries over to the cutscenes too which heightens the tension as you constantly scan both sides for the appearance of The Maw, which exists much like the Tyrant-like creatures exist in the Resident Evil games. The Maw’s thudding steps and groaning voice (courtesy Troy Baker) further fuels a slow burn of tension heightening every sense. The Maw’s every towering appearance does incite terror as it seeks you out. This invites some stealth play.

However…

There is a lot that keeps The Medium from being wholly great. The fixed camera is a nice touch but the controls take time to get used to and the orientation of movement keeps changing. The game feels linear and restrictive — yet you can get lost finding that one interaction point.

The Medium is truly next-gen and looks eerily beautiful, especially the spirit world inspired by Polish surrealist Zdzislaw Beksiński known for his skeletal and organic artworks that all seem to glow from within. The game’s score from Silent Hill’s Akira Yamaoka and the visuals come together to create a superb atmosphere that as unreal as it is haunting.

‘The Medium’ game review: Old school adventure horror meets next-gen gaming

Unfortunately, looping explanations sometimes ruin the ambient narrative; everyone knows the best horror is when things are left to the imagination. But still, The Medium spins a great, well-paced tale, that will keep you hooked, even though it ends on an ambiguous note.

If you are looking for a good horror game with memorable puzzle design, The Medium will satiate both those cravings. Thanks to well-crafted worlds that make for perfect nightmare fuel, this is a thought-provoking interactive ghost story worth the shivers.

The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

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