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Game preview 07 January 2021, 17:04

author: Darius Matusiak

A wannabe fighter pilot, racing driver, and a spec-op; an adventurer and a space marine – hence, a gamer. I’ve been playing games since Wing Commander, and writing since Destiny.

The Medium Preview - Bloober Team Brings "Silent Hill in Poland"

The Medium is one of the most promising games of 2021 and a chance for the Xbox platform to get a really good exclusive title that PS5 will envy. The new horror of the Polish studio Bloober Team looks promising.

Slated for release: 28 January 2021.

It's thick, only this Predator...

Traversing the real and spiritual realms also serves a sequence of clashes with wraths able to travel between them. In the real world, Marianne can only sense the spirits or special auras surrounding various objects. When contacting a particularly dangerous power, the only thing that remains is to escape and carefully observe the environment. The presence of a ghost in the vicinity can be recognized by quite obvious symptoms.

The Medium Preview - Bloober Team Brings Silent Hill in Poland - picture #1
Marianne, the protagonist, is able to depart from her own body.

When a wrath moves, you can see flickering lamps – including the heroine's flashlight – or even dust moving from the ground. Everything is so readily understood that it was completely unnecessary to additionally distinguish the antagonistic character with an envelope like the Predator's camouflage. First, it looks quite common and kitschy in such a carefully crafted world, and two – it loses the aura of mystery. Additionally, an arrow sometimes appears over Marianne's head, suggesting the direction from which the monster is coming. A facilitation like this is an understandable safety valve, but I hope it will be possible to disable it.

It's slightly different in the spiritual realm, where spirits have their defined, physical form. Although I didn't see any direct clashes, I could see some of Marianne's special abilities in action while solving environmental puzzles. Outside her body, the heroine can interact with the environment with something like an energy field; it's also possible to use it in the reverse direction, creating a protective bubble.

But the energy doesn't come from nowhere – first, you have to find a well with accumulated ghost power. It seems these mechanics work quite well with puzzles, as they allow you to move obstacles or safely go through a location. However, I am curious to see how they will work during a confrontation with these dangerous ghosts.

The Medium Preview - Bloober Team Brings Silent Hill in Poland - picture #2
Marianne can also produce a protective, energy bubble.

It all depends on the point of view

The plot and number of possible endings is still shrouded in mystery. The only information we have is that released right after the game was announced. The main character, Marianne, is tormented by visions of child murders. The investigation leads her to an abandoned post-communist hotel, but we will also visit other locations. The authors told me that the plot in The Medium is way more flexible than stories in their previous games:

In each of our games, starting with Layers of Fear, we address a specific subject, not obvious at first glance. Layers of Fear may seem like a game about a crazy painter, but it's really about giving up work versus giving up family. Then we had The Observer, who tells us about the limits of humanity. Finally, Blair Witch Project focused on war veterans and PTSD.

The Medium is generally about different points of view – nothing is simple and obvious, nothing is either black or white. Everything seems different depending on your perspective, your point of view. Playing a medium gives us a very interesting perspective, since Marianne, when observing two worlds, sees things that others do not. [...] We hope that after completing our game, people will think twice before making definitive judgments.

Wojciech Piejko, Jacek Zieba – Bloober Team

The Medium Preview - Bloober Team Brings Silent Hill in Poland - picture #3
I found the main monster a bit too ordinary.

The Medium impresses not only with atmosphere, graphics, and intriguing plot, but also with the personnel behind it. One of the voice actors, for example, is Troy Baker, aka Joel from The Last of Us. The atmosphere of Silent Hill will certainly be conveyed by the soundtrack, in part composed by Akira Yamaoki, who cooperated with Arkadiusz Reikowski.

The authors mention that the possibility of cooperation with Akira appeared at the Tokyo Game Show, where they showed him fragments of The Medium. He was enchanted enough to visit Poland, feel the atmosphere, and then poured it all into his compositions. Soon. we will see how this cooperation came out.

Polish school of horror?

I don't know yet whether The Medium will match the best of Silent Hill. The fact is, however, that Bloober Team has found its niche and is making better and better productions, better and better horror – from Layers of Fear, through Observer, to Blair Witch. It appears that after being a sensation of international cinema in the 60s and 70s, Poland now became kind of the same thing, but with video games.

The Medium promises to be really interesting and I keep my fingers crossed so that the game is as impressive from first to last minute. I have some concerns, such as a bit grotesque antagonist, but maybe the storyline and general atmosphere will supress any shortcomings. Bloober Team, however, have been earning their reputation with some unlikely successes, such as not messing up a game based on movie franchise (Blair Witch). Since they're now going back to original ideas, The Medium should not be "medium" at all, but "well done."

Darius Matusiak | Gamepressure.com

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