There have been a lot of Silent Hill wannabes released the past decade or so, but none have really captured that same mystery and atmosphere. The Medium, however, looks, feels and plays like a modern day Silent Hill game.
It’s not just the fact they have an original score by Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill’s original composer). There are clear similarities in visual style and storytelling, as well as the dark world concept.
Tip: If you want to really capture the Silent Hill vibe, PC users can install Reshade and add in some film grain and chromatic aberration.
I’ve referred to Silent Hill in every paragraph so far, but in saying it’s the next best thing I’m doing it an injustice. It’s an incredible experience in its own right!
Granted, it’s a slow burner. The gameplay is fairly basic with minimal action. The plot is very complex too and quite difficult to grasp fully on the first play through. To fully appreciate it requires the player to invest some time reading notes and listening to recordings. I get it’s not everyone’s idea of fun and seems a bit of a cop out in some ways, but once I started piecing it all together and making sense of it I was left wide-eyed and had more than a few chills.
The visuals are very taxing, even for high end PCs, but they are stunning. And not just from a technical perspective. The environments are both horrific and mesmerising, while the characters vary from sympathetic to downright twisted.
It’s been a long time since I’ve played a game with fixed cameras, so it felt quite jarring at first. I soon got used to it though and began to realise what a great design decision it was, allowing for a cinematic feel and heightened tension. On the other hand, the split-screen concept just didn’t work for me. I get the reason behind it and it could be effective at times, but I found it broke my immersion in the game and could have done with being used a lot less frequently.
The dialogue and acting is mostly outstanding, although the protagonist is little more than a generic strong female lead and one of the least interesting characters in the game. There are some moments when she says things that just seem really out of context and silly (like naming her bolt cutters), but it’s a small criticism.
Overall, I was blown away by this game, though I can see how many people would find it too slow paced and even downright boring. It’s the kind of game that needs to be appreciated as an experience rather than a challenge.
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Time Played: 5-10 hours