Just discover the first seconds of The Medium to know that the game will hit our emotions. Marianne, our heroine, tells us about a day like no other when she must prepare her adoptive father for his funeral. An already not easy situation which does not get better because of his supernatural powers which allow him to speak with his deceased father in a kind of parallel world. The emotional sequence is disturbing to say the least. The farewells between the protagonists are heartbreaking, but for the player, it is also an opportunity to soak up this place filled with spirit that resembles our reality but much more murky. We must admit that this choice of artistic direction is rather a success given the multiple feelings it arouses. Sometimes disgust, sometimes fear and very often Marianne meets ghosts often confused and tortured during his adventure. We have to say that this bias even serves the storytelling pretty well by viciously twisting the supernatural world without actually making it aggressive. This is not a beast representation of hell, but a more elaborate purgatory where dark truths are linked to tragic fates.
The Medium divides us as much as the two realities it opposes.
This quality in no way erases a start to the adventure that is far too dull. The Medium blows hot and cold on us during all of its 10 hours of play, but the first two hours are still freezing. Handling is perhaps the least encouraging point at startup. Marianne is relatively heavy to handle and does not have any particular ability to enhance the gameplay. She is content to complete modest puzzles and move forward without thinking in this huge straight line that is the game. As such, we prefer to talk about puzzle game more than an adventure game since exploration is very limited and not necessarily rewarded. Invisible walls and unnecessary items are commonplace in the haunted hotel that serves as the setting for the main action. And somewhere, fortunately, the game is very compartmentalized, since our heroine sprints at two per hour, making each move very tedious. There is something very soft about the very first part of the game that is not engaging. Add to that an atmosphere Ghost Whisperer very cliché and you get a bit hollow title.
The Medium obviously ends up strengthening his game, but keep in mind that the title of Bloober Team never shines in moments of action. The fault of the mechanics which do not go very far. The developers had something very interesting, however, by giving Marianne the opportunity to explore the physical and spiritual world at the same time. Phases of gameplay features that are in the form of a screen split where our protagonist evolves simultaneously in both worlds and can interact between the two realities. Excellent idea also these powers that allow Marianne to use his sixth sense, to create a shield of light or to send an impulse. So many tools that could have been used to create a gameplay a little sought after which oscillates between action and reflection, but which remains confined to far too basic enigmas. This is not for lack of offering some more original passages (chases and hide and seek in this case), but nothing significant enough to make us cry genius. The game design leaves us a taste of unfinished business. The Medium generally manages to make us understand where he is going. This should not be put only on account of its simplicity, the game is not stingy in visual and sound clues. This camera, which is reminiscent of the first Resident Evil is also a very elegant way of orienting ourselves. On the other hand, we have already come across a series of rather illogical actions. Wandering is the direct sanction in these cases until we find the incongruous element that we lacked.
Almost naturally, the scenario we found too simple takes over and eventually becomes the number one interest of The Medium. It must be said that the title knows how to bait us with fairly raw adult themes that cannot leave us indifferent. Diverse subjects that Bloober Team knew how to combine perfectly to make us feel a battery of emotions. If anguish and sadness are the most present in this psychological thriller, the developers also know how to play on fear. Everything is in the staging that Bloober seems to be in control from start to finish. Evidenced by these cinematics which are always correct, as much visually as in their purpose. And if we are generally in agreement with the artistic direction, we nevertheless question the interest of certain cutscenes which display both the real world and that of the spirits. A clumsy maneuver on the part of the developers in our opinion, since in this kind of scene, it is difficult to focus on both actions. What if it was just that. See Marianne speaking alone in the physical world generally takes us out of the immersion that this duality brings into play.
It is just a shame that the atmosphere of The Medium takes so long to fall into place. You will have to hang in there and ignore the lack of frills that is sorely lacking in a title of its kind. What also weighs him down is the technical aspect. Far from being bad, The Medium is just uneven in its realization. We are dealing with a particularly greedy title, including for a good PC, which aligns cutscenes of good quality, but which at the same time is not at all impressive graphically speaking. The textures and lighting effects aren’t crazy either and we have to say that the face of Marianne even disappointed us several times during some cutscenes. There are finally only the voices off that keep their promises from start to finish. Dubbing in original version Marianne is very convincing, but it is the only one to which you will be entitled (the title nevertheless benefits from a French translation in writing). The rest of the cast is not left out and we even find a certain Troy Baker (Joel in The Last of Us Part II) as a nightmarish creature that should remind you of the Nemesis of Resident Evil 3. Between the dubbing and the soundtrack, there is only one step that we take to tell you about the compositions created by Arkadiusz Reikowski and Akira Yamaoka, a musician famous for his work on the series Silent Hill. The duo delivers high quality music that greatly helps us to immerse ourselves in the morbid events that the heroine is experiencing.
The posterior between two chairs, The Medium divides us as much as the two realities it opposes. It is certain in any case that the game of Bloober Team has never seduced us for its gameplay which he thinks so revolutionary. It’s not all to be able to play in two different worlds, it is still necessary to give substance to this mechanic and this is obviously what lacks the most The Medium. By remaining stuck on a gameplay Basic puzzle to solve, the title never manages to surprise us and only fascinates us for the rare deviations that it allows itself. There was great potential there which we believe falls flat. Its linearity, its short lifespan and its cumbersome handling do not help the case of The Medium which relies on its atmosphere. Finally, that is in theory, because in practice the game takes a long time to relax to become really addicting. The beginning of the adventure gives impressions of deja vu not very inspired. You have to wait a few hours before you can really feel what the very serious storyline of the title is trying to communicate to us. The artistic direction and the staging are nevertheless very good, but despite everything, The Medium struggles to pass the second. And even when the ghoulish atmosphere is at its worst, the game loses us with a few trivial flaws that keep it from being the narrative slap we’ve been waiting for. For a title that lasts only ten hours, you might as well say that the end comes far too soon.
- The journey between realities, a good idea …
- A gripping story …
- Some passages more inspired than others
- Dubbing successful
- Music in line with the work
- Careful artistic direction
- Mastery of staging
- … unfortunately badly exploited
- … but which takes a long time to start
- Linear as desired
- Heavy handling
- Low lifespan
- Too simple
- Can do better technically