Tuesday, November 28, 2023

‘The Medium’ doesn’t live up to its best ideas

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Playing The way, a new horror game for Xbox and PC from developer Bloober Team, it’s like watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix. The way has fun ideas that he executes well, but the overall experience is bland and forgettable. It’s not bad, but it’s not good. As Sabrina and a thousand other shows on Netflix, The way is harmless. It’s a nice way to pass the time, but you probably won’t finish it and remember it a month after you put it down. It’s the perfect game for Xbox Game Pass, the service that seeks to be Netflix but for video games.

The way is a third-person adventure game that follows Marianne, a medium capable of communicating with the dead, as she navigates both the spirit world and an abandoned Soviet-era seaside resort in Poland. Marianne travels in the spirit world to solve puzzles, avoid monsters and help the dead follow through.

In terms of gameplay, Marianne picks up items to listen to the audio logs that fill the game’s backstory, absorbs spiritual energy from the skylights that allow her to repel enemies, and uses mirrors to cross to the other side. , the spirit world. . Sometimes I felt like I was playing a 1995 adventure game; thought Grim Fandango. Leaving an area meant retreading old land, looking for an object that I had not clicked on and that would lead me to the rest of the adventure.

One of The wayMarianne’s gameplay gadgets are that Marianne can sometimes exist in the spirit world and the real world simultaneously. This leads to times when the screen is literally split and the player has to navigate both worlds at the same time. Sometimes solving a puzzle in one will pave the way for the other and vice versa. At one point, a balcony is destroyed in the real world but present in the Spirit Realm, and I used Marianne’s abilities to walk through the Spirit Realm while leaving her body behind. This is a cool effect that creates crisp backgrounds, but also tends to reduce game performance.

I played The way on an Xbox Series X and the performance was spotty. The X series is a powerhouse and the only system that can work Hitman 3 at its full 4K resolution, but it often growled while playing The way. It’s a wonderful game with a strong sense of style. Niwa workers station is a perfect setting with a scary mood. The spirit world invokes both silent Hill and the work of the Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński. But when the frame hangs and Marianne stutters on the screen, it breaks the spell The way tries to throw. It happened frequently, but not enough to make the game feel like it was broken.

The technical problems highlight what makes The way so frustrating. There are a lot of promises here, but it is hampered by technical glitches, poor execution, and poor writing. The Niwa workers’ station is a unique setting. Poland and other countries of the former Eastern bloc are dotted with abandoned holiday hotels built in communist times. Imagined as havens for working people, a vacation spot for normal people, they have often become de facto playgrounds for the party elite.

Niwa is also built on the ruins of a WWII fort. A first gravestone outside the hotel commemorates the dead in the area who were often “buried where they fell and became part of the earth.” Poland during World War II was called the Bloodlands. It was an area wedged between Hitler and Stalin and purged by both sides. It is unfortunate that such a rich and fascinating setting for a horror game becomes the background of The way and not its objective.


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