The Medium

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
The Medium Game Poster Image
Supernatural psychological horror storytelling at its best.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Story's main focus is on disturbing events that took place leading up to and during the massacre at Niwa. These tragedies involved rage, despair, and more of the worst of human emotions, many of which left children as victims.

Positive Role Models

Marianne struggles with her own inner demons, is often rejected by society due to her abilities. But she tries to use her special skills to help others move on after death. She shows a particular soft spot for helping children, due to her own past as an orphan bounced around to different foster parents.

Ease of Play

Most of the gameplay involves solving puzzles and uncovering clues to help advance the plot. Some hide-and-seek or chase elements that the player can fail. It's possible for Marianne's spirit to stay out of her body too long and be drained of life. In either case, death simply means restarting from the nearest checkpoint.

Violence

There's little actual combat in the game, but no shortage of disturbing and graphic imagery. The opening cinematic depicts the chase and murder of a young girl. Some spirits Marianne encounters are dismembered or feature other graphic wounds.

Sex

It's not explicitly shown, but story includes some inferences to incidents of sexual violence, including against a child.

Language

Dialogue makes frequent use of strong profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Marianne is shown smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol in many cutscenes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Medium is a supernatural adventure/survival horror game available for download on Xbox Series X/S and Windows-based PCs. Players follow Marianne as she explores the abandoned site of a mysterious massacre, using her special abilities as a medium to deal with the spirits and other forces trapped within while also unlocking the secrets of her own past. The game's primary focus is on exploring the environment, uncovering clues, and solving puzzles to advance the story. Although there's not a lot of combat, there are plenty of disturbing and violent images shown throughout the story. Key moments occasionally refer to violence of a sexual nature and include scenes and references to violence against children. The game's dialogue makes frequent use of strong profanity, and Marianne is often shown smoking a cigarette and drinking alcohol.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJackjackjackjj February 1, 2021

Amazing

When my asked for this game I said I wold look at it. It is an amazing game, with little gory images.
Teen, 17 years old Written byddddddDDDtwq3fasfasf January 28, 2021

fine for tweens and up

pretty tame in my opinion

What's it about?

THE MEDIUM is a supernatural mystery filled with secrets and tragedies that span both the world of the living and the spirit world that lies just beyond the veil. Marianne was an orphan, the survivor of a terrible accident that also granted her the unique ability to exist and interact in the real world and the spirit world simultaneously. Marianne has always tried to use her abilities -- both a gift and a curse -- to help lost souls find their peace and move on, which is what Marianne has been unable to find for herself. Since childhood, she has been haunted by visions of a young girl's murder, and left to wonder what it means and how it might tie into her own past. After receiving a phone call from a stranger pleading for help and offering the answers she has long sought, Marianne travels to Niwa, an abandoned hotel resort and the site of a massacre that cost the lives of countless people. Using her skills to traverse the spiritual plane, Marianne is determined to find the truth of what happened at Niwa and what role it may have played in her life. But she soon discovers that there are other forces able to cross between two worlds ... and they are determined to keep their secrets, even beyond the grave.

Is it any good?

A lot of games try to stand apart from the rest, thanks to some quirky gimmick that, while different, doesn't really add much to the experience. At first glance, The Medium's dual-world gameplay seems like that, but it quickly becomes clear that watching events unfold simultaneously in both the material and the spirit worlds is so much more than some cheap trick. It's an impressive feat of both storytelling and gameplay. During cinematics, there's something uniquely eerie about watching Marianne interacting with the spirit Sadness in her world while also seeing the same interactions in the "real" world. From a gameplay perspective, it pushes the player to pay extra attention to the environments, examining and manipulating objects in one world so that the player can advance further in the other. It all comes together seamlessly to gives players a tangible connection to Marianne and the curse she's been forced to live with her entire life. Marianne says it best when she describes the experience as existing in two worlds, but never truly living in either.

The Medium is one of the rare games that puts its focus squarely on its story. It doesn't require lightning-fast reflexes, and the puzzle elements can usually be solved without taxing your brain too much. Failing a task is almost impossible, and at worst requires a restart from a checkpoint that's only a few minutes old. Instead, every aspect of the game -- from the foreboding atmosphere of the Niwa resort to Marianne's tension-breaking monologues to the scraps of paper and other clues littering the rooms and hallways -- exist to flesh out the story and draw the player deeper into the mystery. It's this mystery that makes The Medium a must-play. Despite the obvious supernatural elements, The Medium doesn't constantly rely on cheap jump scares or other shock value. Instead, it digs deep into primal emotions, as Marianne's investigation begins to uncover even more instances of the suffering that the people in Niwa, especially the children, were forced to endure. The game conjures its fear on a psychological level, masterfully combining starkly disturbing imagery with players' own subconscious as they piece together the truth of what really took place at the Niwa massacre. The Medium is a tale of psychological horror at its best, told in a manner that could only be accomplished in this format.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about horror as entertainment. What are some ways that fear is used as entertainment? Why is it sometimes fun to be scared? How young is "too young" to properly process horror as entertainment (scary movies, games, etc.)?

  • Do you prefer games that are more weighted toward constant action than plot development, or do you prefer more of an interactive story? How can story-driven games use the interactive nature of games to get the player more engaged in the story?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scary games

Themes & Topics

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