It all starts with a dead girl. A distant memory, a trauma, a voice from the past that returns again and again to the mind of Marianne, the protagonist of The Medium, the new adventure of Bloober Team. The work, which can also be played on PC, is the first title developed exclusively for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, so it is not available on Xbox One (but it is also on Game Pass!). At first glance, it doesn’t give the impression that your graphics are impossible to render on a previous generation machine. However, there is a reason behind this decision: the game renders two worlds at the same time.
A The Medium has been compared time and again to Silent Hill. Like the Konami game, what’s new from the makers of Blair Witch plays with an alternate dimension, while building a visual aesthetic that may be reminiscent of this memorable horror classic. That Akira Yamaoka, the mythical composer of this saga, is one of those responsible for the soundtrack, as well as the sound designer, has only increased that feeling. The best one can do is to break free of those chains and enjoy the video game for what it is, a thriller with exploration mechanics that uses more mystery than terror. So no, it’s not a Silent Hill nor does it aspire to be.
The time has come to face the past
Marianne was an orphan girl when she was adopted by Jack, a man who made his living at a funeral home. I write in the past tense because during the first minutes of the game, the young woman mourns the death of her adoptive father. He walks around the house in search of a tie bar, the accessory he needs to finish preparing the corpse. In the same address, down the stairs, is the funeral home that he ran. It is then when something strange happens, Marianne puts the hands to the head and is introduced in an alternative dimension. There is Jack again, waiting to transit to his new destination.
Haunted by a past she does not remember, the woman directs her steps towards an old dilapidated place, the Niwa Hotel. He goes into the lush forest, and beyond the thicket, he comes face to face with the great chipped mass. After an unsuccessful attempt in which he tries to access through the main door, which is closed tight, he manages to enter. From that moment on, the plot gradually uncovers yesterday’s events, what happened in the hotel and why that place is irretrievably linked to Marianne and other characters around her.
The plot is cleared through notes, (old) phone calls and movie scenes. Its conception as a thriller with light touches of terror starts from a good base that remains more or less constant throughout the entire game. Still, as the plot progresses, the story feels somewhat predictable and unoriginal, with genre cliches blurring the end result.
Narrative adventure with supernatural traces
The Medium rescue mechanics from the traditional adventure game genre. The exploration of scenarios and objects, the use of them in specific places, as well as the solving of small puzzles, works as a playable base. Unfortunately, the few puzzles that are posed are very simple, to the point that none of them present any challenge. Completing the video game is as easy as accompanying the story it tells, since it is an excessively linear product, which limits the character’s movements at all times. The use of fixed cameras, yes, gives it a vintage flavor that is reminiscent of the survival horror of 32 and 128 bits.
The supernatural part adds its most daring proposals, which are still perceived somewhat wasted. I mean, of course, the possibility of controlling Marianne in two different dimensions at the same time. In this way, the player can visualize the two worlds, allowing him to discover secrets in one of them or to enter inaccessible places in the real universe, so to speak. By projecting the soul onto the Alternate Dimension Marianne, we can enter those blocked places, but only for a limited time, as the soul will progressively disappear. If you do, the game is over. Despite its visual appeal, Bloober Team could have delved deeper into this interesting mechanic. It stays halfway and it’s a shame, because its potential is more than palpable.
Where he also stumbles is in the sections where he abandons his adventure game design. It should be noted that at no time do action situations occur as such, we did not fire a single bullet and Marianne is not armed with a pistol. No problem with that. Instead, being a powerful medium, the woman is capable of projecting a protective barrier that helps her defend herself against moths or tentacles in the alternate universe. The only challenge is to properly manage the energy so that it does not run out just when you are crossing a dangerous area. The stealth, which is based on the ability to crouch and hold your breath when the monster is near, has not caught my attention either. In his favor I will say that it is in those moments when the tension is felt, although deceiving the creature does not involve major complexities.
The MediumIn spite of everything, it is a video game that works well if we are content with what it is and not with what it could have been. The seven or eight hours the adventure lasts is enjoyable and keeps you hooked on command, which is more than can be said for many other titles. In the cultural world we strive to qualify works from absolute positions: masterpiece or total disaster. We must leave space for titles that are in the middle. The Medium It is one of them.
And remember. It all starts with a dead girl …
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