I think it’s safe to say that games are going to look well chuffing good on the Xbox Series, but The Medium may just have one of the more innovative uses for all that fancy new technology and the solid-state drive that it happens to be housed on. It’s spooky, more atmospheric than a tour of the basement where I keep a steady supply of lotions and hoses, and it’s fortunately not related to a rubbish TV series from 2009.
What The Medium is, is a spooky psychological horror game with a neat twist: Dual-reality gameplay. According to developer Bloober Team, this gameplay feature will allow players to interact with both our world and the realm of the spiritual, each layer of reality having an impact on the other as what may seem to be an impassable obstacle in one dimension can be overcome in the other. “The Medium renders two fully-fledged and visually distinct worlds simultaneously with no visible loading times,” Wojciech Piejko, Lead Game Designer, explained on the Xbox Wire blog.
At different points in the game, players will find themselves playing in either of the worlds, or within both at the same time, with the game purposefully designed in this way to ensure variety and surprise.
This technology provides players a unique way to play, and a whole new experience and perspective. A seemingly impossible to find escape in the real world, or an unsolvable puzzle, can be unveiled in the spirit world via Marianne’s medium powers. And with different controller inputs mapped to each world, exploration and puzzle-solving can be simultaneous when needed.
When players explore the Spirit World, they can use Marianne’s psychic powers, such as her Out of Body ability. While this form of astral projection allows for exploration into spaces thought Marianne’s body couldn’t ordinarily access, staying in this form for too long will have “fatal ramifications”. As for the technology allowing a seamless leap between worlds? Piejko reckons that until the Xbox Series X came along, such a feature was severely hamstrung by the technological limitations of the past.
“This technological concept is one that we’ve been looking into for many years at Bloober Team, but one that in all honesty was impossible before this current gen of hardware,” Piejko explained.
Only with newer tech built into the Xbox Series X and in PCs are we able to fully render two distinct worlds at the same time. This crucially also enables us to switch instantly between locations – which I hope will be a game-changer for the horror genre.
We’ve been keen to ensure that the game remains thrilling, full of suspense at all times, and unpredictable. As such, Marianne (and players) will not be in control of which world they find themselves – meaning players must be on their toes at any point as we effortlessly transport them to either world, or both at the same time, while playing or during cinematic cut-scenes. The absence of visible loading times makes this a possibility.
Last night’s Xbox Series X showcase had a lot to offer, with a more interesting selection of games that ranged from franchise benchmarks such as Halo Infinite to more experimental titles such as The Medium and Obsidian’s blend of Skyrim with Pillars of Eternity, Avowed. Microsoft is looking to create a more varied library of games for their new system, and so far I’m loving this far more interesting approach to kickstarting a new generation of console hardware.
Last Updated: July 24, 2020