The Medium Xbox Series X Review

The Medium holds a lot of potential of becoming a great franchise and it's worth playing right now, especially for horror fans.

By Grayshadow, Posted 29 Jan 2021

Bloober Team is notorious for crafting horror titles but The Medium is the best game from these developers, easily surpassing the company's previous games. Providing an atmospheric adventure with chilling moments, deadly monsters, and an elaborate story. Protagonist Marianne is an accomplished Medium who can speak and interact with spirits but unlike other games that use a similar foundation, the developers decided to take added steps to make this gift and curse distinct from other interpretations. While the gameplay is your basic exploration and puzzle-solving the narrative will keep you hooked well until the end. The Medium excels at delivering a profound and shocking tale full of anxious moments peppered in.

The Medium,NoobFeed,Bloober Team,

The Medium stars Marianne, a gifted Medium capable of interacting with spirits within a special realm. Marianne uses these abilities to help those unable to move on. Right from the start, Marianne is a seasoned Medium and has seen her fair share of shockingly disturbing moments. So much that when something truly unexpected presents itself you know you should be alarmed. Such as a haunting dream about a little girl that is shot on a dock that continues to repeat in Marianne's life.

Marianne's talents are shown very early within the game and her backstory is told effectively. She was aware of her abilities at a young age and her adopted father was very supportive of her. Unfortunately, her father passes after a dangerous surgery but when preparing his body finds that his spirit is not at rest, still worried about taking care of his daughter. It's here that we see that Marianne has helped lots of people in moving on but despite this losing her father takes a toll. After her father's passing Marianne is contacted by a random individual who knows of her powers and dream, offering answers if she travels to the abandoned resort, Niwa.

The Medium's gameplay involves exploration and environmental puzzle-solving akin to classic Resident Evil games. However, unlike those titles that provide some sort of defense Marianna has no weapons. She can defend herself with her spiritual powers but these serve more as a way to progress rather than combat. The game instead promotes sneaking which is basic at best, just break the line of sight and hold your breath.

The Medium,NoobFeed,Bloober Team,

What made The Medium distinct was how they showcased Marianne's abilities. The screen is split into 2 sections, one of the real world and the other Otherworld. You can control Marianne's spirit form independently for a short time to solve puzzles but it puts into perspective how someone unaware of Marianne's gifts would see her. In the Otherworld, Marianne could be talking or interacting with a spirit or real threat but in the real world, she looks insane. This does translate into the gameplay as whatever bars Marianne in one world prevents her from progressing in the next. For example, if a swarm of moths blocks the spirit form of Marianne from moving forward then the actual Marianne cannot move forward either despite the way being clear. This isn't entirely the case as occasionally Marianne can travel between the worlds without being split and the split only happens during specific sections and cannot be triggered. During these sections, both forms act as one but the Marieanne in that specific form can only interact with objects in that realm such as the real Marieanne interacting with a profound object and the Spirit Marieanne reforming a memory from that object.

The puzzles themselves aren't too difficult but some of the final puzzles will require some critical thinking skills. Most of the time these problems simply require you to use Marianne's abilities in some way to locate a key item and use it. Either place them in specific locations or change the environment in some way to open a passage.

The Medium,NoobFeed,Bloober Team,

The primary enemies consist of deadly demons manifested from tormented or violent humans. These creatures are extraordinarily designed and frightening creatures. One, in particular, is called The Maw who constantly hunts Marianna throughout the game. This monster is not only a demonic figure but constantly attacks Marianne's morale. These disturbing statements are complemented with changes in tone as the demon expresses what it wants, what it'll do, how it's cold, lonely, hungry, and so many other unpleasant things.

The stages are amazingly designed with a large of diverse environments. Exploration is limited since much of the level design is focused on linear structures. There's a great selection of Otherworld locations as they reflect the individual demon you're facing. Some may find the run speed of the characters to be annoying slow at times though.

Bloober went above and beyond with the presentation, acting, and overall choreography of The Medium. The cinematics all have a AAA quality to them, way above any previous project. This complemented by incredible visuals which often show intricate designs during each cinematic. The real world is detailed but the spiritual world is a disturbing mix of what happened in the area. Such as Niwa being an abandoned resort slowly crumbling due to lack of maintenance in the real world but in the Otherworld the walls are full of twisted corpses, blood, and other disturbing imagery to reflect the horrible deaths within the location.

The Medium,NoobFeed,Bloober Team,

The game is littered with collectibles ranging from notes and Echos from past individuals. The Echos are memories trapped in specific objects that Marianne can trigger. These are plentiful and thanks to a type of howling noise you can locate these relatively easily.

This is not to say that The Medium is free from technical issues. The game would occasionally drop in frame rate to a notable degree and despite Microsoft advertising almost instant load times on the Xbox Series X, that's not the case here. Checkpoints and the autosave feature are generous so if you do die or the game glitches in any way you won't lose much progress. I only encountered 1 moment where a restart was needed due to a glitch that failed to bring up key items needed for a puzzle I gathered.

The most predominant issue was the graphical problems. Often the game's textures loaded too slowly or would flash either in white polygons or random colors. At first, I thought these were part of the game, after all, Marianne is traveling between 2 worlds but after 3 playthroughs it was apparent this was a glitch that kept happening. People who are sensitive to flashing colors and shapes should be cautious of this.

The Medium,NoobFeed,Bloober Team,

The Medium is an incredible title that has its fair share of thrills, chills, and somber moments. While the gameplay is simple and basic the narrative, presentation, and performances create an incredible sense of immersion. There's a lot of potential here for a great series considering the interesting lore dropped during this adventure. The Medium holds a lot of potential of becoming a great franchise and it's worth playing right now, especially for horror fans.
 

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

The Medium

88/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC
Publisher(s): Bloober Team
Developer(s): Bloober Team
Genres: Horror
Themes: Supernatural
Release Date: 2021-01-28

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