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Game review: The Medium (PC)

12 Feb 2021

The Medium is a puzzle adventure game from Polish developer, Bloober Team. The game follows Marianne, the titular medium, as she seeks out the origin of her powers.

Following the death of her stepfather, Marianne is contacted by someone that has information for her. This leads her to the abandoned resort of Niwa, a relic leftover from Poland’s communist era. Marianne finds that Niwa has close ties with the spirit world, likely due to it being the site of a massacre some years before. 

I enjoyed Bloober Team’s last game, based on The Blair Witch Project. For The Medium, the developer has taken the adventure a little retro, perhaps a little too retro. 

In this day of 3D visuals, the idea of a fixed camera angle in an adventure game is something that belongs twenty years ago. And yet the developer has seen to include it as a feature of The Medium. It’s not alone, as curated camera angles are stock in trade of frustrated film-makers cum developers wishing to tightly control the player’s experience. For me though, it feels too much like a retro Resident Evil game. Add to that a protagonist that doesn’t know when to stop walking when confronted with an obstacle and nope. Fail.

The movement and camera mechanics in The Medium are awful and made the game very difficult for me to enjoy. Your mileage, however, may vary.

At its heart, The Medium is a puzzle game. It’s a graphic adventure game very much in the style of Syberia and other games inspired by the point-and-click adventures of old.

The game features an interesting mechanic which has the visuals split with Marianne in the real world in one panel and another in the spirit world. To solve the various puzzles in the game players must use items from both realms, as well as Marianne’s abilities in the spirit world, to progress.

Areas obstructed in the real world may be accessible in the spirit world, and vice versa. In the spirit world (which is a grotty, icky version of reality) Marianne can charge her powers to defeat enemies that block her path. This enables real-world Marianne to also continue. 

The game doesn’t always seem to follow its own logic. Some places looked accessible that were not. This may be down to the ridged camera angles and that I just couldn’t properly make out the scenery.    

There isn’t a manual save system. If you need to stop playing, you are at the mercy of the game’s last autosave, which may lose you a few minutes.

The Medium is an interesting idea, but ultimately, I found it a frustrating experience. The decent visuals and story were not enough to distract me from the appalling retro fixed camera and movement system. The puzzles are a bit on the bland side, offering nothing like the reward of, say, the Resident Evil games. As the game is free with GamePass, it’s worth checking out, though. If you are unfamiliar with these sorts of games, you may get more out of it than I did.

Verdict: 6.5/10