The Medium DEALS
What’s up today? We’re going to review The Medium. Ever since the Xbox series X came out, I’ve been kind of waiting for a good exclusive. Something that manages to be truly next-gen for the Xbox, something that wouldn’t run on my last gen tech, something that’s just so big and so cool and so graphically impressive, it feels like it’s going to do something that’s just completely new and sadly The Medium is not that. This only runs on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and the PC, and I hoped that it would be something that would push the boundaries, especially because I am a big horror fan.
There is a lot of stuff in this game that is very much a problem, and I mean, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t going to be winning any freaking game of the year nominations. Instead of being incredibly negative, I want to start with the positives because there are certain aspects of The Medium that I do honestly admire. I think parts of this that I think really manage to be very impressive even though this game is flawed.
Let’s start with the biggest thing, which is let’s talk about the plot. So in The Medium, the big thing that makes this different from other horror games is that we are a ‘medium,’ a person that exists in the spirit world and the human world at once. Her abilities are kind of random, like you don’t get a chance to control them. So while you’re playing the game, occasionally, the screen itself is torn in half, part of it being the spirit realm, part of it being the mortal realm. When this happens, it enters this exciting phase where you’re trying to look at both screens at once. I want to warn you about a bunch of this gameplay because there really isn’t combat in this game.
In fact, I’d describe it as a spooky walking simulator. There’s not really any fighting, and there’s not really a lot of interactivity; a lot of it is just kind of just like walking along, finding an item, putting a key in a lock, and then unlocking the next cut scene. But even despite that, I really appreciate the fact that this kind of calls to mind a lot of old school horror in it, as one of the major things is as you’re exploring these realms and getting a chance to go through this creepy haunted hotel, you get a chance to see the living world and the undead world, very very explicitly.
You get a chance to see mangled bodies; you get a chance to see some haunting territories and stuff. This really gives you an unflinching glance at such deep despicable horror at times, and it really kind of evoked some classic themes of things like Silent Hill.
They actually brought the original guy who did many Silent Hill soundtracks on for this, and his sound design is fantastic. There are so many sweeping melodies that are so creepy and haunting. There are so many times where you see like a ball creeping down some stairs all on its own, or a ghost is talking to you about their tormented life and death, and this is where the game is nice is when you’re getting a chance to go along and experience the life and the death of all these different worlds.
In this game, you’re walking around as both versions of yourself simultaneously, but occasionally their puzzles take you for one realm or the other exclusively. So one of the things it’ll do is like say you open up a barrier that can only be gone into if you’re a ghost. Temporarily for 60 seconds, you can choose to disconnect from the mortal coil and only exist in that one territory. What I like about this is whenever you’re doing these weird puzzles that require you to be only in one realm, I really kind of dig the fact that you still see those hints of the other screen, you still see that she is standing there, she is holding her breath, she is still trying to exist as a human as she is only a ghost.
The puzzles in this game are very easy, but they’re also kind of fun, like many of them require you to think a little bit outside the box. Like one of the things is that there is a lot of unlockable features in this, a lot of like optional puzzles that give you some extra lore and stuff about this hospital because clearly a lot of freaking people have died here, like horrible, awful deaths and not just by natural causes. So whenever you get a chance to find these glimmering items, you get the chance to decipher them and see extra glances into the chaotic downfall of this entire freaking hospital, and I dig that. I really like the fact that there is this huge living interaction to this undead world.
It really makes it feel like the most prevalent character is, ironically, the setting itself. Getting a chance to learn about this world, getting a chance to see into its dark backstory is perhaps the story I liked the most because it is really perfectly blunt; the main plot is not super great. So we’ve come here to discover what’s going on; we’re just so casual about it.
As you’re going around, our hero is very jovial, like a lot of times, she will straight up crack jokes as she’s looking at these horrible mingled bodies, just being very nonchalant when there are mutilated children. I mean, it is incredibly dark, but maybe it’s just because her entire life she is walked in both paths; after you’ve seen probably a thousand ghosts in your lifetime, it’s difficult to take them as seriously.
So occasionally, you get hunted by this giant’s tall creature that looks like something out of a Guillermo del toro movie, and while you’re creeping along, it’s pretty much hidden and seek. He’s not very aware. He can’t see very great, he does say some really spooky lines and stuff, but typically if you hold your breath and stay crouched, you could sometimes walk straight through them. The guy is just so dumb, like certain games that I feel like are made to beat. They’re not made to be challenging; they’re not made actually to impress you or scare you. Like this game, it is made to be beaten; it is made for you to progress and get to that next cool cut scene easily. Often, even when this monster shows up, you can pretty much walk away, and to me, this is a detriment.
I think that they should have gone, one of two different directions. They either should have made a lot more gameplay and had us have a combat system or a ghost gun, or something actually makes it where we’re playing more of a part in the chaos of this world, or they should have done no combat and just embraced the walking simulator. Instead of trying to have these little tiny moments here and there where we’re trying to play hide and seek, make it all about the plot. Because frankly, I think that the parts of this that I did enjoy are some extremely spooky cutscenes times where they’re showing you both realms at once.
Seeing the living world and the dead world just stacked on top of each other is actually really, really effective and making times feel really creepy even when you have what would seem to be a very, very normal conversation. That honestly kind of blew me away because even when I’m going into a scenario that seems like it’s going to be boring, I appreciated the acting and what they were trying to convey. I wish that they managed to do a bit more with making it where it feels like there is a cost. The main character doesn’t really seem to care that much; many people stuck with this monster don’t seem to care very much. Like many people seemed way too relaxed, and that to me is a big drawback because if I were more emotionally attached to this, it would actually be frightening because, as it stands now, the biggest detriment to The Medium is that it’s not scary.
It never really made my heart race; it never gave me any jump starts, like the whole game is a chill, spooky experience, but I still appreciate it because it brings back many good callbacks. There are so many effective things of 90s horror like in this there is no camera control. This is all in fixed camera angles, and something else is because it does that dual reality thing. Sometimes you’ll see something that is incredibly freaking messed up in the alternate realm. Tentacles that are reaching up towards the sky or squeezing on bones and bodies and stuff, or you’ll hear times where you’re walking along. You hear a telephone ringing in the distance when you know that there’s nothing on the hook or times where there’s a creaky staircase that seems as if it’s trying to come alive.
These moments are spectacular, as the ambiance of this is some really well-built scares. Still, the fact that I know that I’m never going to get grabbed, I’m never really going to get killed, makes it where I can’t really be that sucked into the threat of this world since I know that it’s basically just a fun little joy ride until you reach the end. It took me about nine hours to complete this game, and I searched for most of the collectibles; I did pretty much every piece of side content, and I enjoyed the ride. This is on games pass. I think it’s something that, if you have games pass, is certainly worth trying.
If you’re a horror fan, it’s definitely worth checking out, but it’s hard for me to say that this is a great game. I was very interested in some of the techniques they managed to employ but saying it’s a great game is a step too far. If you’ve been craving something evocative of classic Silent Hill, something that will give you that lightly nightmarish feeling throughout the entire experience, I do recommend this. Additionally, if you have games pass, I mean you might give it a shot; if you hate it in the first hour, delete it, it’s no big deal. But personally, as somebody that did reach the ending credits, I don’t regret it.
An artistically inspired and technically interesting horror, almost entirely based on narration. Those who expected a wider adventure could be very disappointed.
- Heavy sense of dread that never eases up
- Dual reality puzzles solving is interesting and really works
- It has a Silent Hill vibe that I can't help but Love
- Not much real threat to deal with
- Hard to say there is much "gameplay" when you mostly are walking around
- It does seem like an interactive movie for long stretches of plot
- Good 0%