REVIEW – The Medium is back, and this time, it’s on PS5. It’s an opportunity to go back to the game, to see if it’s still worth it, but also to see if Sony’s console will offer a more conclusive experience, in terms of realisation, or even immersion with its DualSense. The debate is on!
It’s fair to say that Bloober Team‘s reputation is well established. After nuggets such as Observer, or Layers of Fear, the studio confirmed its talent by offering us a horrific and narrative Xbox exclusive last January that had seduced us. But now the PC and Xbox monopoly is coming to an end, and the game is coming to PS5. For better or for worse?
The Medium tells us the story of Marianne, who can see two different worlds evolve at the same time before her eyes, ours and that of the dead. In the game, this is characterised by a split-screen. And she will use her powers to help the dead to pass into the afterlife. The adventure opens with a most difficult ordeal, the death of her adoptive father. But soon, a mysterious phone call puts her on the trail of her powers’ origins, which leads her to the Soviet resort of NIWA, the scene of a horrific massacre years before. The storyline is as catchy as ever, even if the ending may be divisive, and the English dubbing contributes to the excellent sound atmosphere of the title. We’ll come back to this point later on.
Gameplay-wise, it’s interesting, but it’s not the title’s strong point. With fixed camera angles reminiscent of a particular Resident Evil, Marianne wanders in both worlds simultaneously and must, most of the time, press the switch in the dark world to open the door in the real world. Or vice versa. It’s rather simplistic, and the initial concept had some appeal. In the end, even older titles such as A Link To The Past do better in terms of parallel universe mechanics! Seeing the two universes evolve at the same time is nevertheless a little fun, and the atmosphere pushes us to go further and further.
On a technical level, The Medium offers on PS5 a somewhat similar result to the version running on Xbox Series X. Namely an excellent resolution, delicate textures, lighting and reflections that are pretty realistic, 3D models that are also rather fine and detailed, which give the whole a real Next-Gen cachet. It’s way above what a PS4 offers. But we’ll find the same minor flaws in Sony and Microsoft. Namely, a slight blur that appears here and there, a little popping in the distance, even during the cinematics, and above all, this is the most annoying, a frame rate that is never constant. As soon as the camera moves, micro-drops at 25 or even 20 FPS occur almost every second. The game still coughs as much on the console, and the flaws are as visible in the game as in cinematic and are accentuated by the presence of the split-screen when it appears.
If the balance is, therefore, quite similar technically, the PS5 version of The Medium could stand out using Dualsense. And this is more or less the case! The vibrations are pretty convincing, for a start. The trigger feedback ranges from gimmicky to good, with a single notch to run and real jolts when you charge your power. And while the gyroscope is anecdotal, and we’d rather not use it, the sounds are reasonably well integrated but very rare: but it’s their rarity that makes them stand out from the rest and participate in the overall thriving sound atmosphere of the title. The controller is therefore exceptionally well exploited, but this advantage will not necessarily be decisive in the battle, as the console versions of The Medium are, in the end, very similar on all points!
Simple gameplay, gripping story
The Medium is back on PS5 and offers a similar experience to what players could live in January on their X series. The story is still as gripping as ever, with its concept of parallel worlds evolving at the same time before our eyes. If the gameplay is ultimately very simplistic, we enjoy exploring these worlds. Technically speaking, the result is very similar to the Xbox version, with a stunning game, but which suffers from slight frame rate drops almost constantly. The DualSense brings its share of sensations, with incredible vibrations, relatively well-exploited force feedback and rare sounds that contribute to the atmosphere. If you haven’t yet laid your hands on The Medium on Xbox, this re-release could be the opportunity.
+ Excellent, chilling horror story
+ Great DualSense feel on PS5
+ Revolutionary split screen
– “Interesting” ending
– A few, minor technical glitches
– No ray tracing on PS5
Publisher: Blobber Team SA
Developer: Blobber Team
Style: Adventure game
Release date: 3 September 2021