Pc Xbox series
Since its inception in 2008, the Bloober team has been delighted to make us shudder, to play with our fears and to do so with a certain talent. Layers of Fear (2016), Observer (2017), Blair Witch (2019), just to name their most recent productions, still haunt us. The Polish studios in Krakow want to continue in this direction with The Medium, a psychological horror game set in a dystopian and surreal universe. Are you ready to wander between two realities?
Editorial impressions in less than 3 minutes
During an online presentation organized by Bloober Team Studios, we were able to experience The Medium for the first time during a 15-20 minute “hands off” game session, followed by a series of questions and answers with Wojciech Piejko (Lead Game Designer) and Jacek Zięba (Game Producer).
The medium tells the story of Marianne, a medium that can perceive material reality beyond the veil, but above all is subject to visions from an early age. One of them reveals to him the particularly conspicuous murder of a young girl. Our heroine then decides to go to an abandoned hotel complex in the city of Krakow to meet the enigmatic Thomas, who supposedly carries the answer to his vision.
The Bloober team relies on preprogrammed cameras, a natural evolution of the still images from the old survival horror 90s, from which the studio is strongly inspired to make The Medium. This sensible and daring choice confirms the cinematographic approach of the work and mainly emphasizes the terrible aspect. These plans, influenced by the 7th Art, make it possible to gently awaken fear and slowly permeate it through the use of artifacts and codes of the genre. Appearances in the foreground, noises outside the screen … the players sail around in the perception of every moment. The medium’s storytelling gets on our nerves, turning a revelation into a mystery, but rewards curiosity about a linear adventure that takes ten hours to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
This terrible experience captivates with its artistic and playful influences. The studio behind the project openly draws on various currents to enrich its creation. Aside from his obvious video game inspirations (Fatal Frame, Forbidden Siren, Resident Evil 3, Silent Hill 2), the artists show a very personal universe between architectural brutalism and homage to the paintings of Zdzisław Beksiński, a Polish artist whose work it is focused focus on the detailed scenes of death and decay. The Bloober team even offers the services of Akira Yamaoka, a former composer of the Silent Hill saga. The latter works with Arkadiusz Reikowski (Blair Witch, Layers of Fear, Observer) to create a heavy and sticky soundtrack that goes perfectly with the graphics.
The hiding place of the “two worlds”
“The only thing more terrible than blindness is being the only one who can see.” The words of José Saramago (Portuguese writer and journalist) perfectly sum up the vision of the Bloober team. The medium takes the form of a supernatural inquiry and penetrates the veil of physical reality to venture into the spiritual. The playful experience focuses on this narrative diversion, understand here that you cannot go from one world to another at will, and on solving puzzles. The heroine simultaneously interacts in these two parts of reality to move forward. To reinforce this idea, the adventure takes place for a third party on a split screen and invites you to explore the places.
The sense of the medium enables Marianne to better grasp surroundings and perceive them beyond reality, while her ability to detach her mind from her body enables her to “freely” explore the spiritual world. His supernatural abilities, which need to be regularly recharged, won’t be too much to survive in this hotel complex populated by psychic beings.
Our heroine then shows cunning, for example to escape The Maw, a monstrous metaphysical creature played by Troy Baker (Death Stranding, God of War, Marvel’s Avenger, The Last of Us Part II). Distraction and cover-up are his best weapons here, as is observation. Psychic beings are invisible in the physical world. A flashing lightbulb, a rising cloud of dust, a slight visual impairment … all of these become clues to identify the threat. Searching and then exploiting the environment is the only way to survive. Marianne is finally nowhere safe, which reinforces this ubiquitous sense of danger.
It is difficult to judge the playful vision of the Bloober team in its current form, to blame for too short an initial meeting and especially for hands off. However, the medium challenges us with its diverse artistic influences, both visually and musically, as well as with its way of integrating them into a dark universe that only wants to be explored with fear in the gut. The concept of dual reality, which is central to the experience, and the cinematographic production could make this supernatural investigation a rite of passage for all horror lovers, provided its full potential is realized.
January 5th, 2021 at 3:00 p.m.