The Medium is a third-person psychological horror game with a split-screen twist and an ever-pursuing, force-of-evil demonic villain.
If that isn’t enough to have you scurrying away, read on.
This game’s story focuses on Marianne, a pretty twentysomething with a spirit-guide ability to sense and see ghostly fluctuations in the real world around her. During more intense moments, she can also enter a rot-encrusted parallel spirit world. The screen image splits and displays two different Mariannes who move in tandem to discover clues and items, as well as performing actions that will measurably impact one world or the other.
While grieving over her father’s death, Marianne is lured by a strange phone call to an abandoned resort with the promise of uncovering more details about why she has her otherworldly, clairvoyant abilities. But she soon discovers that there is a mystery in these crumbling ruins that she must piece together.
As she gathers blood-soaked clues, frees souls from desiccated corpses and manipulates horrible environmental puzzles, Marianne realizes that a number of evil atrocities have taken place in this crumbling hotel. Those horrors have unleashed a ravenous demonic entity.
And she is somehow connected to it all.
Along with finding out some details about her own past, Marianne also takes on the job of freeing souls that have been trapped in the expansive, abandoned property she is exploring. She puts her own life on the line repeatedly in an effort to free them. One of these captive entities is a young girl who appears to be an innocent victim of abuse and who has been trapped there through no fault of her own.
Marianne’s abilities give her a chance to share some “unsaid things” with her recently deceased father. They speak of their love for each other.
This is a game world filled to the brim with dark evil things. Characters are tortured and killed, children are abused and murdered, and one child is raped. We don’t actually see the child abuse, but we do glimpse a variety of images that suggest the cruel savagery. The rape gives birth to a demonic creature called the Maw: a ravenously hungry entity that “tries on” people like a “skinsuit” and uses their possessed bodies to murder others.
This huge, dark spiritual entity is unstoppable and follows Marianne in both planes of existence—hungering after her body and the special qualities her mind can offer. Its constant pursuit and creepy guttural utterances make scenes tense and frightening. We see corpses scattered about in the spirit plane; spiritual entities with missing limbs and rotting flesh; and large barriers of stretched human skin that must be sliced open to gain access to other areas.
Some of the stories that Marianne uncovers deal with heinous governmental experimentation on children, as well as some twisted sexuality. Again, we don’t see these events take place, but they are revealed through written materials and bits of reconstructed memories. There are also thoughts and discussions about suicide, and a possible suicide at the game’s end.
People smoke and drink booze here (including the protagonist). On top of all that, the language is fairly raw throughout, with uses of f- and s-words and other crudities, such as “h—,” “d–n” and “a–hole.”
The Medium is, admittedly, a well-constructed game. And it has a likeable protagonist paired with an involving, dual-world movement twist that makes the action here more immersive.
But gamers and parents of potential gamers should take into consideration that that very M-rated immersion is dark and unsettling. This game bombards you from all sides with things creepy and foul.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.