The Medium Review – 5 Stars

In most games the ending is merely a sequence to signify that the game is over. In The Medium the ending is the most important part with every moment you experience carefully crafted to get you to it because that’s where the payoff is waiting and wow, is it a good one. This is surprising because many stories about spiritual investigation, where people who can speak to the dead to try to solve crimes, tend to disappoint.

I think it’s because The Medium is so focused on story, character, and ending that it doesn’t try to trigger emotions, to shock or make your skin crawl, unless there’s a reason for it in the story and thankfully The Medium finds them.

Marianne is not only a woman who can see the dead and speak with them, but she can help those in distress “cross over” and while that doesn’t mean she devotes herself to it as a calling, setting up shop like a psychic consultant, when circumstances present themselves, she’ll try to help.

I like this about Marianne. Voiced by Kathy Burke as someone “who can take care of herself”, who is level-headed and responsible in her decision-making, never panicking and often using humour to try to calm the scene. This gives the game the freedom to send you into endless nights, to subject you to corpses and body horror, to unleash monstrous titans at you knowing there are these qualities that can return you back to normalcy.

The game is rated Mature and does come with a trigger warning, but not because it involves explicit visuals or torture porn. The game handles its extreme content by suggesting it rather than acting it out, most of which is what you’d expect with a murder mystery, and yes, there is some swearing and of course, ghost children.

The puzzles and tasks are familiar in the way you scan rooms for missing objects, navigate buildings like hedge mazes, and use spiritual energy to get past obstacles, but they’re all crafted to be interesting and seem fresh.

The main twist is the visual duality of Marianne existing in both the worlds of the dead and the living and the two are presented in key sections through split-screen where you’re basically playing two video game worlds at the same time with the actions you make in one creating changes in the other. I like that this mode isn’t used all the time and that the game finds other ways to present puzzles about the two worlds. I also applaud the game for using the technical innovation as much to present its story visually as to come up with game tasks spread out over different areas.

The way that mixture presents all of the game’s themes coming together for a climax at the end deserves a standing ovation. I found it so utterly satisfying and appreciate the way it left questions for you to work out the answers to on your own without it being annoying. The Medium succeeds where every other spiritual investigation I’ve encountered fails.

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