The Medium Review

"Split Worlds"


January 28, 2021 at 8:13pm
By Jason Stettner

This is a narrative driven psychological thriller with an edge of horror to it. I wouldn’t say it fits into the terrifying category entirely aside from a jump scare, but definitely in terms of the atmosphere and the general eerie feeling that the game provides.

This story follows Marianne (Kelly Burke), a medium that’s been called towards this run down bloody mess of a location. It’s there that she will discover secrets of the past, and begin unraveling a mystery that only she can handle. It’s definitely an interesting setup, and I’ll try my best to steer clear of spoilers since this is best discovered as you work through it.

It’s actually also fairly lengthy, providing a good balance of puzzle and cinematic moments throughout. These puzzles aren’t necessarily too complex, but may require you to take a second in order to figure them out. They always feel rewarding in the sense that you’re granted with new narrative points, further compelling you to work forward within the experience. This is also rather complex in terms of the themes, and key moments that are developed as events progress.

It’s a really neat way to tell a story, and I thought they did a wonderful job of conveying that. I certainly was more and more intrigued by it as time went by. From the scares of rushing down hallways, to those smaller triumphant moments. It all came together in a satisfying way with a tad touch of ambiguity to the conclusion as well which was appreciated.

They also really play around with the closed in area that you’re visiting. As I mentioned, it’s quite lengthy to play through. At the same time, you really don’t visit too many locations, a wonderful use of space and movement as you progress through areas in what’s largely a linear fashion but it doesn’t feel necessary as being so. This is then radically changed in regards to the multi-dimension situation that’s going on.

At many moments you’re directly influencing both the regular world we live in, and the spirit one. This provides a split screen situation, or at times throws you directly into one or the other. This is really neat as it’s used for puzzles, and to add an extra dimension to what you’re doing when you’re exploring. I really loved this mechanic, finding it rather fascinating and well used throughout.
The Medium cover


This is very much a fixed camera walking sort of setup. You’re moving along, interacting with the environment and discovering the narrative largely through touch. You interact with objects to hear their story, hop through mirrors to other worlds and attempt to solve the constantly unique puzzles throughout your journey.

Since you’re interacting with many things, there are a ton of collectibles to gather that do help flesh out the story. The mirror element is rather fascinating as you’ll use it in some puzzle situations, hopping into the spirit world for extended periods of time. You may also just do an out of body experience, and you’ll understand the difference between the two when you play.

They really cover all the grounds of your character’s powers. I really quite liked this lead character while on that topic, a great performance. In general, all of the involved characters were rather excellent. I did want to highlight Sadness as well, that’s a very different type of character that was very fun to see in action and well performed.

When it comes to the visuals this is a very intense, decaying and detailed world that you’re able to witness. The regular environment that we inhabit is mostly shown as being desolate and abandoned. That’s then mixed with the spirit world of complete decay and torment. It’s really cool seeing cinematic points where Marianne is stuck between the two.

This was played on Xbox Series X where the game features a dynamic resolution up to 4k at 30fps with HDR support. It also has some nice, subtle ray traced reflections. For the most part it looks absolutely fantastic. There were a couple moments where textures were slow to load in; but these were very brief and basically two times stuck out, literally being a couple moments.

There were a few areas where the frame pacing was off, but again these were minimal. For the most part the game is technically quite impressive, and feels expansive despite being linear in focus. They have a really neat use of fixed camera angles to help set the scene, and the atmosphere is beautifully boosted by the music at play here. It all comes together very nicely.
The Medium Review Xbox Wallpaper Screenshot

The Conclusion

The Medium is an incredible narrative driven psychological thriller that balances a really neat split between reality, and an eerie spirit world. The use of characters, headed by an excellent lead really help bring this deep story to life. It’s got some great surprises to it, and it’ll keep you guessing as it progresses.

I could dive into that aspect further, but I would like this to be fresh for those that take the time to read through this review and then go to play. It’s got a really fascinating use of two realities, and I liked how that came into play. It helped make the puzzles more dynamic, and added to the concept of multiple eras clashing in what remains of this dark and desolate location.

It’s very detailed, filled with lore to discover and it houses many distinct secrets that you can interact with as you play. It thought this was very well done, and I was entirely engaged with what was going on. I’d like to see more games done similarly to this, and I’d particularly like to see more of this universe. Again, not necessarily a pure horror title but one that feels insanely messed up and most of all enticing to explore.

Read our Twin Mirror Review
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The Medium Review on Xbox Series X
Review Code Provided by One PR

Rating Overall: 9.3

Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner