She Sees Dead People
It all starts with a dead girl. These are the first words spoken by the game’s protagonist, Marianne, in Bloober Team’s latest game, The Medium. If you’re unfamiliar with Bloober team they are a Polish developer who have made high profile “walking sims” like Layers of Fear and Observer. The Medium is similar to those games.
The game takes place in late ’90s Poland. You play as Marianne who is a Medium, meaning she can commune with the dead and see the spirits of the dead in another world. As she’s laying her father to rest she receives a mysterious phone call from someone named Thomas who needs her help and so she needs to go to the Niwa resort to find him. The Niwa resort is a run down / abandoned post communist vacation resort, abandoned because of something called the Niwa Massacre. In your journey to find Thomas you meet other spirits who guide you on your way all while figuring out the mystery of what happened at the resort and the person you’re looking for. I thought the story was somewhat interesting. It’s certainly subject matter that feels culturally different or appropriate based on the creators.
The gameplay, as I stated earlier, feels similar to other Bloober Team games. It’s a sort of psychological horror not based on scares but more on creepy environments. You are mostly doing puzzle solving, finding items and things of that nature so it feels like an adventure game. The game simultaneously takes place between the current world and the other world (which is like the spirit dimension). The environments of the other world are inspired by Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński so the imagery is helping create that unsettling atmosphere. Unlike other Bloober Team games this one is played from a 3rd person perspective, sometimes it plays from a fixed camera like older (original) Resident Evil games. But there is no combat or anything so don’t expect survival horror going into this.
There are some issues with the game mostly on a technical level. The game looks pretty good for the most part, the ray-tracing effects in the few areas that they are in look nice but towards the end (even after patch 1.1) the frame rate just doesn’t perform well in certain areas. One cool thing though is if you have RGB fans on your PC the game interfaces with the colors of the fans and changes colors depending on what world you’re in or if you perform certain actions with your character. The environments look very nice, like many Bloober Team games, however, I though the character animation looked a bit stiff so possibly something they could work on for their next game. My final gripe is the voice work is a bit uneven. The voice of Marianne (Kelly Burke) is okay. The delivery of some lines feels kind of awkward at times I though, maybe she would have been good with a few more takes. On the flip side Troy Baker plays the Maw and he’s certainly the highlight of the cast.
In any case The Medium is a pretty solid game with some rough spots. The positives outweigh the negatives I think. The game can be beat in a couple of days, but it’s worth playing it a second time I think to digest the story a bit further. It’s on game pass so if you’re a subscriber there’s no reason not to try it out.