The following challenge from horror recreation specialists Bloober Staff, The Medium, looks like its most private. It’s extremely referential, drawing affect from the developer’s native Polish tradition and a love for traditional survival horror sequence like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. (Bloober Staff even recruited famed Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka to pen the sport’s soundtrack with musician Arkadiusz Reikowski.)
The Medium additionally exudes ambition, constructing on the psychological horror foundations laid by the studio’s earlier video games, Observer and Layers of Worry, with a bolder, extra polished presentation.
In December, Polygon previewed a gameplay demo of The Medium over Discord. Lead recreation designer Wojciech Piejko and producer Jacek Zięba walked us via how their new psychological horror recreation performs, and the way its dual-reality mechanics permit protagonist Marianne, the eponymous medium, to discover two worlds without delay.
Bloober Staff started its demo within the foyer of an deserted Polish resort, which is predicated on an actual location. It’s greater than only a creepy setting, it’s a nod to late communist-era structure that’s concurrently grounded and surreal. Drawn to the resort by horrible visions, it’s right here that Marianne tunes her supernatural senses to listen to messages emitting from one other world, and the place she meets a masked woman — a misplaced spirit from the spirit world — named Disappointment.
Marianne can go to that spirit world, typically whereas concurrently exploring the actual world. When she explores each realities without delay, The Medium goes split-screen (both vertical or horizontal, relying on the digital camera). Within the case of the foyer, that split-screen view confirmed real-world Marianne within the decaying resort foyer on prime, and spirit-world Marianne in an otherworldly actuality on the underside. As Marianne searches for Disappointment within the spirit world, the actual world presents an issue: The steps the woman simply ran up, whereas intact in spirit kind, are destroyed in the actual world. Marianne should take the elevator to search out her.
It’s right here the place certainly one of The Medium’s easier puzzles presents itself. Whereas the elevator works in each worlds, Marianne can not exit the model in actuality attributable to a malfunction. Spirit-world Marianne can, nonetheless, exit her elevator automobile to find an power supply to free real-world Marianne. This requires an out of physique expertise, which Piejko and Zieba likened to a deep dive underwater. Keep below too lengthy, and the spirit world will drown Marianne.
The Medium’s spirit world is horrifying and exquisite. Marianne seems to be like an inverse of herself; her darkish hair and black leather-based jacket whiten within the spirit world. The person-made structure of the resort is remodeled into one thing vaguely natural, overgrown, and alien. Bloober Staff appeared to the painted work of Polish dystopian surrealist Zdzisław Beksiński for affect in designing The Medium’s spirit world, giving the alternate actuality a definite, distorted look.
Throughout Marianne’s out of physique expertise, she encounters a hostile creature referred to as The Maw (voiced, naturally, by Troy Baker). However she’s restricted in her fight talents, and can’t defeat this metaphysical entity, merely keep away from it. A later sequence set in the actual world confirmed that spirit-world entities can cross over to regular actuality. And these beasts, that are each invisible and blind, should be overcome with cautious stealth maneuvers, astute statement of the surroundings, and Marianne’s psychic talents.
The Medium, which is coming to Home windows PC and Xbox Sequence X on Jan. 28, feels evocative of a few of my favourite video games, together with Konami’s Silent Hill sequence and the dual-world exploration of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The sport’s puzzle-solving mechanics and investigation-driven narrative, mixed with Bloober Staff’s intense creative route, makes it certainly one of my most anticipated video games of 2021.