Review: The Medium

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Carlos Laforet Coll

The Medium takes place in two worlds. The game often switches between the real world and the spiritual, but it's also a fascinating cinematic experience. The protagonist Marianne explores both worlds. The game alternates between a cinematic narrative horror experience and “action” moments.

We will discover the story of Marianne, a woman deeply connected to the spiritual world since her childhood.

After receiving a mysterious phone call from someone claiming to know what she can do, she travels to the Niwa Resort, an abandoned place with a dark history that she can find some deeper connections with.

In Niwa, Marianne encounters the spirit of a child named Sadness as she tries to unravel the mystery of who called her, why and what role she plays in this great story.

At first, The Medium reminds me of games like Heavy Rain or Until Dawn. Cinematic camera angles, deliberate actions as you survey the environment for story details and ways to move forward.

And once the game introduces the changes in the spirit world, Silent Hill immediately came to me. The story is told through narration, as well as Marianne's comments on the events.

The Medium's differential is not only the possibility of switching between worlds, but allowing Marianne to exist in both simultaneously.

This allows for some interesting mechanics, such as observing spirits interacting with objects in the spirit world and how this affects them in the real world, when we are in this mode we need to double our attention, to check in both scenarios, even because some puzzles become good interesting and engaging because of the possibilities in two simultaneous scenarios.

There are times when there are dedicated turns, you'll be in one world or the other, but especially impressive are those times when you're pulled into both at the same time.

0In general, The Medium overcomes these changes very well. I never felt that I was overly reliant on the real world, the spirit world, or even split-world moments, and the variety of environments is always changing so the exploration never stops.

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horror elements in The Medium are often relegated to an unnerving tension. There are a few little scares here and there, but for the most part, the game just wants to scare you with the feeling that the spirit world is right there, waiting, on the other side.

In The Medium there is a mysterious creature called The Maw, something like Mister X / Tyrant, Nemesis or Pyramid Head. A persistent threat that will emerge at inopportune moments and stalk the player, you don't have many resources to fight The Maw.

Marianne has the ability to absorb energy in the spirit world, which she can use for some powers, such as generating a shield around her or sending a blast.

If she has energy, she can survive being grabbed by The Maw once, but you often need that energy elsewhere for a puzzle. And that's only in the spirit world. The Maw can also travel to the real world, not to mention it's invisible in that space, and Marianne is powerless there.

This means there's a lot of trial and error to escape The Maw, with lots of frustrating kills, lengthy loading times, and trying the sequel again. These forced encounters with poor stealth mechanics seem completely at odds with the rest of the narrative-centric game, making the player painfully aware that they are playing a game.

And forget the tension. Even a failure against The Maw's irritatingly frustrating power is enough to take the tension of cinematic horror and replace it with the nagging need to get through a generally unrelenting game segment.

In addition to these moments, the journey through The Medium it was generally intriguing, though fairly linear overall. Some side paths contain additional items or collectibles that lend some additional backstory, but for the most part, players should be able to go straight through this horror adventure with few detours, which generally keeps the pace pleasant.

The Medium is an admirable horror experience from a developer who has made great strides in the world of horror game development. It's not something that's going to change the world of horror games, but it does things unique enough with the mechanics of two simultaneous worlds to stand out.

Like many horror games before it, it fails to balance its tension with certain gameplay mechanics that can go from fear to frustration very quickly, but are spaced out enough to never ruin the experience.

For all horror fans looking for a Silent Hill style game to fill that void, the medium at least it will bring you into a nostalgic environment.

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