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The Medium Review – Grave New World

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With our five senses, we perceive a large part of the world around us. But what if another world exists behind the one we see? What if a second reality was just behind the facade of our experiences? What if this reality was full of spirits that we cannot see or touch, who brush against us daily? Bloober Team attempts to explore this mysterious spirit realm with their puzzle-filled horror adventure, The Medium. Sadly, Bloober Team’s vision for an unseen reality isn’t all that exciting to watch.

Marianne is a supernatural medium who can speak to the dead, but when she receives a mysterious phone call summoning her to an abandoned hotel on the outskirts of Krakow, Poland, her talents are truly put to the test. When Marianne arrives at the station, the only inhabitants she meets are tormented lost souls and an invisible monster who forces Marianne to grapple with her past. The medium’s tale begins with a lot of promise, but quickly loses momentum. Marianne doesn’t have much of a personality and is little more than a number to move the plot forward. Plus, some details are hard to follow, and The Medium’s few interesting twists (towards the end of the game) don’t feel like they’re deserved.

It’s unfortunate that The Medium’s narrative doesn’t shine, as a solid story maybe pulled me into its uninspired gameplay. As Marianne commune with the dead, she is sometimes tasked with solving simple puzzles, such as redirecting current to a car lift or finding missing parts at a broken mirror. Unfortunately, only a small handful of these puzzles require the player to look for smart solutions. For example, I liked paying attention to clues in my surroundings to crack the code for a locked door, but most of the time I felt like I was finishing a grumpy job, carrying random items to one end. to the other of the environment so that I can place them in their place.

The only unique element of the medium comes from the way it manages the spirit realm. At specific times in history, Marianne inhabits both the real world and the spirit world. During these sequences, the screen splits in half to show Marianne’s position in each realm. A room stuck in the real world can be opened in the spirit realm, which encourages you to carefully explore both realities and find a way forward. It’s a great idea, and I liked manipulating objects in one area to affect the other. But even in the realm of spirits, most puzzles boil down to putting objects in their place. Spirit Realm is also incredibly dull, and its overtly grotesque design has dampened my enthusiasm for going through realities. I love good spooky atmospheres, but The Medium’s environments are simply grotesque environments formed from human-like skin, not terror-inducing places.

Like many modern horror games, The Medium forgoes traditional combat mechanics in an effort to amplify scares – but that doesn’t do enough to turn up the tension. The Medium sets the stage for several scary moments, but often fails to deliver. For example, Marianne sometimes encounters a powerful beast which forces her to run or hide. These moments seem exciting at first, but the monster is so easy to evade that it quickly ceases to feel like a threat. The stealth sequences are particularly disappointing because they are so linear that it is never a question of where to hide; these moments are more like trials of patience while you wait for the monster to move on so that you can advance to the next stash hole.

Some of the best horror games of the past decade have offered combat-free scares. After all, abandoned buildings are scarier when you can’t stand up to the shade. However, The Medium’s lack of combat highlights the challenge of letting the atmosphere and puzzles convey a horror experience. The idea of ​​exploring separate realities is an interesting one, but Bloober Team needed another gameplay hook to hang its hat, because this horror show is a bit shallow.

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