Polish Silent Hill that's a label that comes to mind when you look at the latest Bloober Team's: The Medium. The authors openly admitted that they consider the cult-classic second part of the famous Japanese series an all-time masterpiece, and an absolute monument of the finest horror. Fortunately, in this case it's about inspiration rather than blind copying and The Medium combines the predictable patterns well with some of its own ideas. I could find out about it recently, during a special presentation of the game and a online meeting with the developers.
When asked about the other sources that influenced them the most, they listed a whole lot of extremely atmospheric games, films and shows. The color palette and overall atmosphere was inspired by shows such as The Dark and Chernobyl. Other Japanese horror movies, such as Fatal Frame and Forbidden Siren, as well as games like Hellblade, Amnesia or What Remains of Edith Finch, have also had a big impact. A great reference that most of you will find obscure is the output of Zdzislaw Beksinski, a legendary Polish abstract painter, photographer and sculptor specializing in surrealism, who is actually the main inspiration behind The Medium. The legendary Silent Hill series, and the first entry in the Resident Evil series inspired another hallmark solution pre-defined, fixed camera angles.
Cinematic experience static camera
The Medium will not utilize traditional third-person perspective. It was decided to use fixed camera angles instead, not only to pay homage to the aforementioned series of horrors, or such classics as Alone in the Dark. Showing the action in this way gives, above all, a much more cinematic and eerie feel, allowing the creators to build the atmosphere of uncertainty by showing different scenes from the right perspective.
The decision to resign from the classic TPP was made after long tests and discussions. Another important argument was that the defined camera angles encourage more careful exploration. It's hard to imagine any other choice when you consider the key feature of the game, i.e. playing in what the creators call a dual world: real and spiritual.
"Dual world" playing in two dimensions
Showcasing the dual world system was the main point of the 20-minute or so presentation of The Medium. Finding yourself in either dimension is not optional, but rather an element closely related to a particular moment in the plot. Sometimes, we'll even be able to see both realms at the same time. The screen becomes divided like in a couch co-op, and we can see the same location in two versions.
Both dimensions differ significantly not only in terms of visual style but also functionality. Many environmental puzzles are based on this mechanic. We saw, for example, Marianne being encouraged by the spirit of a certain girl to enter the floor of an abandoned hotel. In the real world, you have go there by elevator, because the staircase is destroyed, but once the elevator door is locked, the only exit exists in the ghost realm.
The protagonist, as the title medium endowed with paranormal abilities, can use the ability to depart from her own body. She freezes, motionless in the real dimension, to move freely in the spiritual sphere. Depending on the problem that needs addressing, it will be necessary to manipulate objects in one realm or the other. Marianne, however, cannot stay outside her own body for too long. After some time, her spirit begins to fade, which encourages doubling-down your efforts.
"Silent Hotel" in Krakow
Much of the game's action takes place in the Niwa hotel in Krakow, in the 90s. The fictitious name, however, refers to a real location, which has been reconstructed with quite impressive fidelity. The inspiration for the creators was the "Cracovia" hotel, erected in the 1965. It operated as a building of a famous hotel chain until 2011, and for the last 5 years it has been part of the National Museum, serving as a venue for various exhibitions, but mostly being a derelict scarecrow in the middle of the city. In the game, the characteristic, tiled columns in the lobby of the building are immediately visible.