If it were up to me, the title of this article would be more R-rated than it is, and not because I want to be edgy. But during a recent preview event for Bloober Team’s highly-anticipated new horror game, The Medium, watching the dual-reality gameplay in action had my mind all sorts of fucked up – which is a significant jump in intensity over my mind being merely “messed up”, as the title might otherwise suggest.
There’s not much that I can expand upon that hasn’t already been perfectly described in my colleague Bella Blondeau’s preview article. The audio design, the utter dread, the puzzles, and strategy in stealth – they all add up to a horror experience that stands on its own in terms of originality, despite its comparisons to Silent Hill.
But it wasn’t The Maw – the deadly apparition that stalks the player – or the death and decay of the spirit plane that had my mind spinning (though those did certainly play a part). It was watching Marianne – the protagonist – run through two separate worlds at the same time and having to navigate them differently based on the distinct obstacles in each world.
Check out the video below to see what I mean.
In the haunted hotel that Marianne visits, she is unable to access the elevator in the spiritual plane due to the access panel being mucked up by… whatever that stuff is. She is, however, able to use the panel in the “living” world, which takes her to another floor of the hotel. Marianne is also able to interact with beings that might exist in the spiritual world, but not in the physical world. This ability to see two worlds simultaneously is both mechanically and narratively important.
There are moments in the game where Marianne will stand in one spot as she navigates the other world, but watching Marianne moving in the exact same spots between the living and spiritual world is, for me, a mind fuck. I’m an abstract thinker as it is, sometimes getting a bit too lost in my daydreams (if you’re old enough, think Bobby’s World, but on a far less kid-friendly scale). So watching the dual-reality gameplay had me fascinated as I thought about how this sort of dynamic could actually be a possibility in real life.
Can you imagine having the ability to navigate two separate worlds simultaneously? The entire premise in The Medium seems so much more involved and complicated than other portrayals of parallel worlds in media where characters will, for example, navigate surreal realms while their physical body remains in the world of the living. It’s easy for us, the player, to see and understand everything that’s going on in the game’s dual-screens, but The Medium takes it to an entirely different level with Marianne somehow capable of discerning both worlds from one another. Just put yourself in Marianne’s shoes. How would you even be able to do that? If you have any ideas, by all means, please let me know. Because I just can’t fathom it and would love to have some sort of basic understanding.
Bloober Team is known for its psychological horror stories, and no doubt the developer hopes to burrow into your head, shake up your own perception of reality, and have you question the fabric of the universe as you traverse The Medium’s dual worlds.
Maybe I’ll get answers when the game launches for PC and Xbox Series X|S on January 28, maybe I won’t. Maybe my mind will spin even further out of control as I go with Marianne on her journey. One thing is for sure, though: I have major expectations for The Medium. From what I’ve seen so far, I can’t help but feel like it’s going to deliver, whatever dimension you live in.
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Sam has been writing for TheGamer since early 2018, earning the role as the Lead Features & Review Editor in 2019. The Denver, Colorado-native’s knack for writing has been a life-long endeavor. His time spent in corporate positions has helped shape the professional element of his creative writing passion and skills. Beyond writing, Sam is a lover of all things food and video games, which – especially on weekends – are generally mutually exclusive, as he streams his gameplay on Twitch (as well as TheGamer’s Facebook page) under the self-proclaimed, though well-deserved moniker of ChipotleSam. (Seriously…just ask him about his Chipotle burrito tattoo). You can find Sam on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @RealChipotleSam.
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