It's been a few months yet The Medium is finally available for PlayStation 5 and it's quite an intriguing horror game so let's get to it.
I don't usually enjoy horror games but I love psychological horror thrillers such as Silent Hill and Fahrenheit (AKA Indigo Prophecy). So, when I saw The Medium release on Xbox Series X, I was kind of sad because I wanted to play it but I don't have the console. Now that it's finally available for PlayStation 5, I must say that in many ways, it was worth the wait but in many others, I'm fairly disappointed.
The Medium follows the story of Marianne who's; you guessed it, a medium. Specifically, she has the power to enter the spirit realm which is a reflection of the real world although much more sinister. At times, you'll control Marianne's spirit and on other occasions, you'll control her and her spirit simultaneously in a split-screen scenario. This forces you to solve puzzles in order to allow both entities to progress by doing things like powering-up electrical boxes with your spirit's gathered energy or cutting through doors made of skin which, quite frankly, you have to do way more often than you'd think, especially considering how disgusting albeit tedious it is.
That's the vast majority of The Medium's gameplay; puzzles. Sometimes, you'll simply wander around while trying to find some sort of key item while other times, you'll slowly piece together a solution for how to escape a particular area. Overall, I found the level of challenge to be rather low as most of the time, it's blatantly obvious what you need to do so you simply go through the motions. However, I did hit a couple snags that were more poorly designed moments than rewarding challenges. For example, one switch is hidden behind a photo on a shelf and it took me forever to find it and a combination lock later in the campaign has plenty of red herring clues around it.
Every now and then, you'll have to complete some sort of action scene that usually involves a Bogeyman-type character. Whether you're trying to stealthily sneak by, devise a trap for it, or run away; it's by far the most irritating part of the game. Most of the time, I could deal with it without issue because it's really quite a dumb monster. Other times, I had to give it the old trial and error. Oh, I wasn't supposed to run right? Let's try left next time. Meanwhile, I'll wait for the game to load between attempts which is strange because aren't I playing this on PS5? As you can guess, it gets monotonous and repetitive very quickly. In fact, I'd rather perform quick time events.
As The Medium's campaign pushes you along in a linear manner while you try to figure out each scenario that's presented to you, you'll frequently find yourself admiring its detailed game world. I particularly thought the spirit realm was incredibly imaginative as it really captures trauma and evil in an aptly abstract manner. It does such a great job of this that I regularly caught myself reflecting on my own conscience. Do I have any demons wandering the halls of my spirit? Is there a traumatic event in my past that I'm keeping imprisoned? Probably not but I thought about it which means The Medium's spirit realm is quite powerful to behold. Oh, and the acting is top-notch, too, especially for the monster who ranges wildly from coy and desperate to viciously aggressive at the drop of a hat.
Another aspect about The Medium that I appreciated is that its story makes sense. Sure, not everything is wrapped up in a pretty bow by the end but it's still comprehensive and well thought-out whether you rush through the campaign or read every found document. I mention this because there are far too many narrative video games nowadays that leave you with more questions than answers by the time you're done and I absolutely hate that. It's also cool that there's a somewhat satisfying ending as well as room for a sequel.
The way that The Medium brings trauma to life in various ways is awe-inspiring. At the same time, it's not all that good of a video game.
- + The spirit realm is outstandingly crafted to bring trauma and evil to life
- + Great acting, especially for the monster
- + Comprehensive and introspective story
- - Campaign is super-linear and unchallenging
- - Trying action scenes again is annoying
- - Occasional "What do I do now?" moment