A great concept weighed down by a undercooked story and laughable villain.
Xbox suffered last generation due to the lack of first party game titles, while there were some, there was nothing groundbreaking or fan pleasing that the PS4 and Switch offered its fans. This generation Microsoft are not playing around buying up as many studios as they can to offer their consumers the best of the best. The first game for this generation that is console exclusive comes in the form of The Medium, a horror title that allows players to stretch across two worlds in a split screen style that hasn’t been seen before. The game is helmed by Bloober, the studio who recently delievered the excellent Blair Witch game (you can read my review here) this time around though the story has a great base but never lives up to its promise and the big bad horror villain is more like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets pretending to be evil versions of their characters. It comes across as laughable and ridiculous removing any of the terror that the game intends to portray.
The game is centered around medium Marianne who investigates haunted areas in an attempt to get the person to move onto the afterlife and stop the haunting. Marianne is called to an abandoned family resort to investigate where her powers came from and what evil was called summoned here to cause everyone to leave. What this game really gets right is the intrigue about Marianne and her powers. Showcasing her personality and wicked sense of humour keeps things light when the tone gets extremely dark and foreboding.
Exploring an abandoned haunted resort is a lot of fun. There are posters, abandoned luggage and toys that add to the creepy atmosphere. Playing along you scan pieces of evidence using Marianne’s powers to piece together information about the people who worked, visited and died at the resort. Each with its own intriguing backstory and death explained offers many mysteries outside of the main story and some proving to be more sinister than others.
Visually the game is absolutely stunning. The top down view is reminscent of early Silent Hill and Resident Evil games with a slightly stitled walk from room to room with interlocking camera angles. The visual detail on both worlds is great to watch when playing the game, I found my eye drawn to the underworld and constantly having to remember to flick back to check on the current world situation. It is really unlike any other game mechanic I have experienced and definitely one I would happily dive into again, although hopefully next time the story is more engaging.
Overall The Medium had a lot of promise but failed to live up to the hype and promises from the studio about a great story driven double world scare fest. Hopefully if there is a sequel, they will spend more time on the story and characters and making it scary and less on the gimmicky two world thing. While the two world connect was fantastic and executed well, it really shined a focus on the lack of quality in the story. The graphics are beautiful on next gen-consoles and I can’t wait to see what Bloober does next.
The Medium is available now exclusively on Xbox Series X and S.
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