Video game – “The Medium”: Fresh horror in the socialist home
It must have been an idyllic place once. In the Niwa Resort, located in the Polish wilderness, socialist workers and their families were able to recover from the stresses of everyday life. Spacious rooms offered comfort. Swimming pools, play rooms and excursions made for variety. So it’s no wonder that the communist rulers sold the resort as a showcase project.
Nothing remains of the socialist dreams. Today Niwa is deserted. There is blood on the walls. The dump is falling apart. Something happened at the resort. What exactly? This is what the mystery horror game “The Medium” from the Polish development studio “Bloober Team SA” is about.
Conversations with ghosts
The main character of the title is the young woman Marianne. As a medium, she can move in both the real and the spirit world and chat with the deceased there. She doesn’t know why she is capable of this. Plagued by a nightmare, Marianne searches for answers. Unsuccessful. But then a man named Thomas calls her. He claims to know more about Marianne’s ordeal. But the woman must first rush to the Niwa resort to help him.
The spook begins. The resort closed years ago. Allegedly because there was a massacre in Niwa. Whether this story is true or just a local horror tale remains to be found out.
In any case, Marianne quickly realizes that things weren’t right in Niwa. In the spirit world she meets a girl named grief. But also a demon who is up to mischief in the department. And it soon becomes apparent that Marianne could also have connections to the eerie department.
The scenario is refreshing and has all sorts of twists and turns. Niwa is full of mysterious beings. There are objects and ghosts everywhere that give a little clue about what happened in the resort. The minimalist music that pervades “The Medium” with a ghostly carpet of sound is particularly successful.
The game mechanics are just as fresh. When Marianne enters the spirit world, the screen is split in two. The player controls the woman simultaneously in both worlds. There are different objects that she can interact with. That makes interesting puzzles possible. So once Marianne has to feed a source with energy in the spirit world so that an elevator can move on in the real world.
Technically, however, “The Medium” cannot completely convince. The cutscenes are nice to look at, but muddy textures often appear in the game. The animations are a bit wooden in places, which makes Marianne’s movements seem a bit mechanical and fake.
A little more action would have been nice too. There are passages in which things go wild and Marianne has to hide from a monster and trick it. But they are comparatively rare. It wouldn’t have hurt the game to pick up the pace a little more.
In the end, however, “The Medium” is a successful change from the mass of zombie chopping that is thrown on the market every month. Instead of bloody violence, the Polish developers rely on subtle, intelligent horror.
The test sample was made available to the “Wiener Zeitung” by the manufacturer. “The Medium” was released for PC and the Xbox Series X / S.