The Medium, the preview: the first impact with the new Bloober Team game

The Medium, the preview: the first impact with the new Bloober Team game
It's not necessarily smart for a development team to choose the path of gender specialization. It can depend on a single global success, or on the clear talent of those involved when engaged in very specific projects ... the fact is that, in an unpredictable and chaotic world like that of videogames, limiting oneself to a single type of product becomes almost a mission, and one of those very little advantageous. The first obstacle, for example, is meeting the expectations of the public, which tends to expect immediate and constant evolution from teams that are dedicated to a single genre; it is therefore undoubtedly a good sign that the first trailer of The Medium - the new horror work of the Bloober Team - gave the impression of belonging to a game with production values ​​immensely superior to the (however often valid) past works of the Polish software house (on all Layers of Fear, Observer and Blair Witch)

Too bad that until now, except for some very effective trailers, we haven't seen a bit of gameplay worthy of this name, so we were very happy to finally see the game in action thanks to a digital event in the company of the developers. Of course, there was no way to prove it, but at least now we have an idea of ​​what the adventures of the medium Marianne offer, and the actual potential of the first horror of 2021.

A bad holiday

The demo shown by the developers started in an old Communist-style hotel, apparently modeled on the Hotel Cracow, which actually exists in the city of the same name. It is an imposing structure and particularly suitable to be adapted in a horrific key, which goes well with the fundamental mechanics of the Bloober title, that is the ability to act both in the real world and in the spiritual one. However, this third-person horror does not perpetually show the world of spirits in parallel to the "normal" view: the protagonist is in fact able to activate an "out-of-body mode" in specific situations, which leads the screen to divide, clearly showing the differences between the two dimensions.

Be careful though, because in the early stages Marianne is not able to stay in spiritual form very long, and if she strays too far from her body - more than plausible if she encounters obstacles blocking her in the real world - risks leaving us the feathers. This gives rise to some simple but interesting puzzles related to the recovery of energy sources in the map to reactivate some doors (in the case of the demo that of a blocked elevator), and to the need to explore the various areas with cunning and speed and then retrace them with calm down afterwards.

Let's be clear, the game is not always based on this duality. The revealed gameplay was not particularly long-lived or structured, but at least it confirmed the presence of phases in which the spiritual form of Marianne is not limited by distance from the real body or by time, moreover without the aforementioned screen division. The mechanics don't change much in these sections, however the experience is enriched by the grotesque atmosphere of the spirit world, and the need to use special powers to unlock initially inaccessible areas. More precisely, we have observed Marianne's ability to find energy traces - which facilitate the recovery of fundamental objects to advance - and to create a sort of luminous shield capable of eliminating the moths that infest certain areas. However, these faculties are not exclusively useful for solving puzzles ...

Invisible terror

The Medium is still, at the base, a horror game, and even if the Bloobers have stressed that they want betting everything on atmosphere and psychological horror instead of cheap jumpscare, does not mean that during the campaign there are no threats that can suddenly make your skin crawl. We, to be exact, have seen a terrifying shadow in action, perfectly visible in the ghostly world and transparent in the real one, which chases the protagonist in certain sections of the adventure. And if it is true that on the one hand the use of a similar monstrosity might seem like a banal device to terrify the player, on the other hand we must once again consider the division of dimensions on which the game is based, which allowed the Bloobers to significantly change the impact of encounters with this hideous creature. The spiritual form of Marianne can in fact use her energy to get rid of the monster for a limited period of time, which makes it dangerous in the spirit world but clearly controlled; in the real world, however, the beast is (as already mentioned) transparent, more difficult to notice and impossible to eliminate. The moments in which she decides to chase the girl therefore become real stealth phases, where it is necessary to take advantage of the surrounding environment to distract him and reach a safe area.

Overall? The atmosphere does not seem to be lacking, also because the main antagonist of the game constantly speaks and threatens Marianne (with the voice of Troy Baker, it seems), and to make everything oppressive not only the excellent artistic direction - inspired by the works of Zdzislaw Beksinski, contributes. considered by many to be a sort of Polish Giger - but also a potentially exceptional modular soundtrack, curated by Arkadiusz Reikowski and the legendary Akira Yamaoka (yes, that of Silent Hill). Finally, the technical sector helps not a little, which seemed to us to be respectable and a significant step forward compared to the other titles of the house, not to mention that the developers have specified that what is seen in the demo is only a small part of the game, and that not only will there be other areas that can be explored in addition to the hotel, but also several other abilities of the protagonist capable of varying the gameplay not a little.

The Medium left us an excellent impression. It's crystal clear right from the start as being the most ambitious and technically advanced project ever created by Bloober Team, and its staid, old-fashioned adventure pace is a perfect foundation for the game's creepy atmospheres and spirit-world variations in gameplay. . It's obviously too early to break the balance, but if the atmosphere stays at this level throughout the campaign and the storyline is up to par, we could have a truly memorable horror adventure on our hands.


It has an atmosphere to sell Ost potentially memorable puzzles Apparently well-structured puzzles DOUBTS The validity of the narrative and of the campaign has yet to be demonstrated

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