Today, we’re going to talk about The Medium. Normally, I’d give a little horror queen intro. Not today. I need to preface this review by saying I physically could not finish the game. And I will never go back to try and finish it. I have never felt so uncomfortable or disgusted playing a game. This is also a reminder that these are my own personal views and opinions. If you are affected by anything I discuss today, please feel free to follow one of the links at the bottom to talk. There is a trigger warning in place for this review.
What is The Medium?
The Medium is a third-person psychological horror game that features patented dual-reality gameplay. It uses the older style of camera placement seen in games like Silent Hill, or more recently, Song of Horror. Players wield unique psychic abilities reserved for those with “the gift”. Travel between the realities or explore them both at the very same time. Use the Out of Body experience to investigate places where your real-world self can’t go.
Create energy shields and deliver powerful spirit blasts to survive the spirit world and its otherworldly dangers. As a medium, you see, hear and experience more than others, and with every new perspective, you will change your perception of what happened at the Niwa resort.
The Zdzisław Beksiński influence
Zdzisław Beksiński was a Polish painter, photographer and sculptor, specializing in the field of dystopian surrealism. His work strongly influenced the design of the dark world, and if you look at some of his work, you can see how. Beksiński described his work as baroque or gothic, with an impressive catalogue of 708 works of art. This was definitely a huge help for the design team of the dark world.
The colour scheme definitely matches up with a lot of the classic works of art. Specifically the uses of yellows, oranges and browns. It’s a very interesting choice without a doubt, but nice to see an artist used for inspiration for once, as opposed to other games.
You can without a doubt feel the influences of older horror games when you play The Medium. It maintains that classic movement and camera style of the likes of Silent Hill, which I referenced earlier. The thing is, it’s a style that very much belongs in the past. It feels too dated and takes away from the flow of things.
The dual reality is also an… interesting feature. It takes you out of the game with a lovely, black line down the middle of the screen. moving between the two worlds is cool, but the whole split-screen thing is hard on the eyes. You have to pay attention to both worlds at once, to get through barriers, cross obstacles, etc. It has potential, but I think it could use more work. It looked better in the trailers. Although it was an admirable effort, it’s not something that was successfully pulled off in the midst of a pandemic. Maybe in another world, it could have worked.
I don’t know if this falls under gameplay, but it’s going in this section anyways. The narration is completely unsuitable for a game. It is way more suitable for a book. This is evident from the get-go, and it just does not work. It makes the game difficult to get into. The cost also does not help matters at all. The Medium carries a whopping €49.99 price tag. Not worth it, at all.
Why I won’t finish The Medium
This is where the trigger warning comes into play. There’s also a trigger warning that pops up on the loading screen when you boot the game up. This is a specific scene and aspect of gameplay that has totally put me off this game, and Bloober Team in general. I was already apprehensive after playing Blair Witch. AKA the game that was based on the “cinematic lore” but threw it all out the window for cheap scares in a dark atmosphere. I can’t be the only one who took issue with that game. The hunt for a child killer, that ultimately doesn’t have a satisfying conclusion, that then turns into a horrific flashback? The game lost itself. It was just too weak to carry the moniker of Blair Witch.
When I saw the trailers for The Medium, I was really excited. It looked so new and inventive, and I was ready. And then it got pushed back. That was a big warning sign for me. What can I say, I’m cynical. But when I got my hands on it, it was with an open mind. Then I started and the bad narration kicked in. Whatever that can be forgiven if everything else is better. But I was bored.
Then I found the bathtub. A bathtub full of blood, that you pull and pocket a sharp razor blade out of. This is when the NO NO bells kicked in. Moved on. Time to use the razor blade. To cut through skin. Up close, graphically, slowly, manually. With a line afterwards of “that was oddly satisfying.”
This legitimately made me feel sick. A trigger warning does not excuse or make up for the fact that the game makes you manually and slowly cut through skin and then call it satisfying. That is BEYOND messed up. The act itself is extremely uncomfortable. The line is the final nail in the coffin. The fact that the skin cutting is a multiple-time event just worsens it.
Imagine a young person picking this game up, and hearing that it’s satisfying to cut skin open. The implications are hideous. Imagine someone using it for inspiration to hurt themselves. Or better yet, imagine someone like me. Someone who has a history with self-harm. Who has been working to quit, or who has quit, or who is struggling. The graphic nature of the scene is disturbing enough. But just for one moment, imagine this scene was the reason someone hurt themselves or someone else. It is inexcusable.
I will never touch this game again, and I am beyond disgusted that a section like that, with that line in particular, made it into the game. In my eyes, there is no redemption. Also please note that the game EXPLICITLY calls the barriers skin, this is not an assumption. I would not recommend this game to my worst enemy. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to cleanse my mind. Thanks for all the horrible memories this game brought up. Never again.
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