Xbox Game Pass for Console, PC, and Android

Well, I've watched the credits roll on The Medium. It took me considerably longer than the "taking your time and exploring every corner" 8 hours I've read on various sites.

Verdict: not recommended unless graphics and sound are the most important things in a game to you. Also the game should come with a much more serious content warning than it does.

I'd say Clock's assessment is pretty much right-on. Sort of.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I've put a few hours into The Medium, and it seems to me like it's the most beautiful PS One horror game ever made.

The Medium is beautiful to look at. The sound design is impeccable (definitely play wearing headphones). The voice acting is magnificent. Everything else, though...

It is a remarkable technical achievement. It is gorgeous. It leverages every joule of next-gen power. Unfortunately, it is lacking in some fundamentals, so it ends up being not very fun. And it has some bugs. One or two prevent further progress in the game. I had no crashes at all, which was refreshing. There are some strange visual artifacts that the developer is aware of and working on fixing. They're very annoying when they happen (morphing textures and small blobs of primary colors appearing at random on the screen).

The gameplay design is inconsistent. Sometimes when introducing new elements, it is very hand-holdy and generous with hints. Other times it says to perform an action and you get to play "guess the controller buttons." And of course the controller map in settings does not include the described action. Environment design is inconsistent too. Not the detail aspects, mind you. The art direction is marvelous, every pixel is part of a lovingly crafted texture, and the models are varied and interesting. But some areas contain very long passages packed with stacks and stacks of the same groups of gorgeous objects. And that is where another bug causes problems...

Occasionally, the character's run animation would move at walking speed, or only slightly faster. Other times, something approximating running speed. I assume this is a bug, because the game flat-out prevents you from running in areas where you need to be paying attention to your surroundings. Interactable objects are inconsistent as well. Sometimes you can interact quite easily, other times you need to wiggle your character around and find the perfect facing and distance to allow you to interact. More seriously, there are two story-stopping bugs that I am aware of. Only one of them hit me, thankfully, and I didn't lose much progress.

Finally, the story. A game like this lives and dies by its writing: dialogue, story, and notes you find in the environment. Even a pixel art game that uses arrow keys and a single button can be great if it has great writing. The writing in The Medium is, again, inconsistent. Sometimes it's natural. Sometimes it suits the character of the person who wrote the note you just picked up. Other times, though, it's on a level with your average fanfic.

I don't want to go so far to say The Medium is more of a tech demo than a game, because it is definitely a complete game. Large swaths of it are incredibly tense and fun. The payoffs in the final act are satisfying. It just has very uneven execution.

So, like a PS One horror game, it lacks a lot of modern conventions of walking sims and/or horror games. Its controls can be mysterious, and sometimes they don't work the way you expect. And the writing is "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US." Okay, not quite that bad, but you get what I mean. Some of the dialogue is unintentionally hilarious. Some of the dialogue is downright confusing.

"The area felt muffled," the protagonist said,

IMAGE(https://i.ibb.co/rdL0Lph/Medium-2-2-2021-11-02-07-AM-gntzgits.jpg)

?!

I can't recommend The Medium to anyone except hardcore fans of walking sims and horror games, and even then, only if you're also a graphics maniac.

Sexual and violent content warning and actual spoilers:

Spoiler:

I don't know how often these sorts of things are included in horror games just to be horrifying, because I haven't played enough of them. However, based on my regular consumption of other horror media, the writers for The Medium went above and beyond.

The story of The Medium features child sexual abuse, spousal abuse and rape, physical assault on women and children, and ethnic murders. None of it is explicit or on-screen, but some of it is acted out in sound. With all of it, despite some clumsy oblique writing, it is painfully obvious what is going on. In one case, the player's character acts out a scene with an abusive stepfather.

I don't think a lot of that material needed the level of treatment that it got. There were plenty of horrific elements to the story without taking it as far as they did. The primary victims were women, and one of the women was only a sketch of a character whose abuse was a primary motivator for the psychospiritual problems of her son.

If there's any positive side to any of this, it's that the story saw to it that various kinds of violent justice was served on the abusers. Resolution lessens the sting of the situation somewhat, but violent resolution is unpleasant, and they should have crafted the characters' demons out of more creative childhood trauma in the first place.

I haven't hit the story content referenced above, but I'll say that I'm still really enjoying The Medium, and I'm far from a graphics hound. The writing (and frankly, the deeply depressing content) is about what I've come to expect from these smaller Eastern European developers.

That said, I haven't run into any bugs or other issues. I had a bit of trouble with the first encounter with the Maw, but that turned out to just be a very poorly communicated path forward.

It doesn't seem like the kind of game that if you don't like it at first just press on and it'll turn into something you like, though, so I feel comfortable saying that if the game hasn't grabbed you by the time you first get to Niwa, you can just move on to something else.

Yeah, I forced myself to finish (though I ignored collectibles for the most part), because I’ll be damned if I’ll let the very first Game Pass game I play kick my ass. I did play the back half of the game with a step by step guide open most of the way.

Even with the issues I had, I started feeling better about the game in the last few areas, where the story starts to make sense, and you get more emotional payoffs and resolution.

I’m really looking forward to Control Ultimate Edition and all that ray-tracing

BadKen wrote:

Yeah, I forced myself to finish (though I ignored collectibles for the most part), because I’ll be damned if I’ll let the very first Game Pass game I play kick my ass.

I'm completely the opposite here. The best part of Game Pass is dropping a game the moment I stop enjoying it. I didn't buy it. There's loads more I could play. I'll drop things on Game Pass way sooner than I would with games I actually bought outright.

Definitely sounds like a Bloober Team game. Their writing is uneven, but i've mostly enjoyed everything by them I've played so far. Looking forward to when i can check The Medium out.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
BadKen wrote:

Yeah, I forced myself to finish (though I ignored collectibles for the most part), because I’ll be damned if I’ll let the very first Game Pass game I play kick my ass.

I'm completely the opposite here. The best part of Game Pass is dropping a game the moment I stop enjoying it. I didn't buy it. There's loads more I could play. I'll drop things on Game Pass way sooner than I would with games I actually bought outright.

That's been the trend with me too. I find it easy to drop something I'm not totally into without remorse. On the flip side I will try, or at least download, stuff that I usually wouldn't touch.

EvilDead wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:
BadKen wrote:

Yeah, I forced myself to finish (though I ignored collectibles for the most part), because I’ll be damned if I’ll let the very first Game Pass game I play kick my ass.

I'm completely the opposite here. The best part of Game Pass is dropping a game the moment I stop enjoying it. I didn't buy it. There's loads more I could play. I'll drop things on Game Pass way sooner than I would with games I actually bought outright.

That's been the trend with me too. I find it easy to drop something I'm not totally into without remorse. On the flip side I will try, or at least download, stuff that I usually wouldn't touch.

Don't forget the other side to the coin also, later on you can give it a try again without guilt. Sometimes the mood for a type of game changes or your willingness to put up with sloppy controls or whatever.

garion333 wrote:
EvilDead wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:
BadKen wrote:

Yeah, I forced myself to finish (though I ignored collectibles for the most part), because I’ll be damned if I’ll let the very first Game Pass game I play kick my ass.

I'm completely the opposite here. The best part of Game Pass is dropping a game the moment I stop enjoying it. I didn't buy it. There's loads more I could play. I'll drop things on Game Pass way sooner than I would with games I actually bought outright.

That's been the trend with me too. I find it easy to drop something I'm not totally into without remorse. On the flip side I will try, or at least download, stuff that I usually wouldn't touch.

Don't forget the other side to the coin also, later on you can give it a try again without guilt. Sometimes the mood for a type of game changes or your willingness to put up with sloppy controls or whatever.

This is me with Ori and the Will of the Wisps. I've tried a couple times and just stopped since I haven't been in the mood. I really liked Blind Forest, so I'm sure it's a just not right now thing.

Project Winter just came to Gamepass, for both Xbox and PC. It has cross-play. It's a hidden traitor game for eight players where you're trying to escape a snowbound wilderness.

There's already a thread for the game here: https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...

I have been interested in this game for a while, as my favorite boardgame podcast, The Secret Cabal, has raved about it a couple times. I'm trying to see about getting a game night together over in that thread.

I finished up the Medium. The environments look good on Series X. The character models and animation are definitely lower budget but not so bad that they distract from the game. Honestly, more games in this lower to mid-budget realm are welcome. Not everything needs to be 40+ hours long and cost $100+ million to make and then require tens of millions of more $$$’s for marketing. My only real technical gripe would be that the context sensitive actions could be a little finicky about exactly how your character was placed/turned. Gameplay would feel much smoother just by cleaning up those button prompts a bit.

The subject matter that Ken referred to is pretty rough, and there are points in the mid-game where I questioned whether I wanted to go on. Later in the game as things clear up, I felt better about how it was all done. I even liked how the ending was presented. However, I’m not someone who has lived through any of the trigger experiences and can’t and won’t speak to whether any of it would be acceptable to those that have.
In many ways this isn’t likely a game that you will gush about how much you “enjoyed” it. Much of it isn’t pleasant. It isn’t light-hearted or fun, but I think that it was time well spent. Overall, I’m glad that I played it. I would be careful about recommending it just because I could see it being emotionally devastating to a subset of players.

Looks like we're getting a Series X|S title in the next Game Pass update: Dirt5!

The new games:
1. Code Vein (PC) – February 18
2. Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire – Ultimate Edition (Cloud and Console) [email protected] – February 18
3. Wreckfest (Cloud, Console and PC) – February 18
4. Killer Queen Black (Cloud and Console) [email protected] – February 23
5. Dirt 5 (Cloud, Console and PC) – February 25
6. Elite Dangerous (Console) – February 25
7. Superhot: Mind Control Delete (PC) [email protected] – February 25

IMAGE(https://news.xbox.com/en-us/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/02/TW_Available-Today_Coming-Soon_templates_2.16.2021_2.jpg)

Wow that is a really good lineup.

What's this? I never bought POE2 and it's coming to Game Pass? Unpossible.

That's a super hot bundle of games getting added!

For anyone looking for a massive time sink, Elite: Dangerous awaits.

EvilDead wrote:

Wow that is a really good lineup.

I had the opposite reaction. First lineup in awhile where I feel like there's nothing for me. Which is totally fine! Maybe I'll give PoE a spin, but I haven't heard very good things about it.

Dang, I'm interested in every game coming to PC, which is the only part I care about. I could likely end up firing every one of them up and uninstalling after 30 minutes, but I'm still interested.

TIL that not everything that is available on console is going to be available on xCloud. At least, for now.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

For anyone looking for a massive time sink, Elite: Dangerous awaits.

I’m not *looking* for a massive time sink, but I would like to hear more...

Ooh. I see Wreckfest and think “multiplayer?”

-says the guy who loves the idea of doing multiplayer but never puts much effort into actually doing multiplayer.

RawkGWJ wrote:

Ooh. I see Wreckfest and think “multiplayer?”

-says the guy who loves the idea of doing multiplayer but never puts much effort into actually doing multiplayer.

Honestly, that's the perfect multiplayer game for someone who approaches multiplayer like that. It doesn't require a lot of you, and is perfect for a quick hop in occasionally, while still working great for a full evening.

I *loved* FlatOut multiplayer with friends.

Screw randos. I know that makes me less likely to make more friends, but between my old gaming clan and this website, I have more than I can reasonably keep in touch with anyway.

How much is it like Crossout?

Wreckfest? Nothing at all like Crossout. From the website, it looks like you're free roaming in a world and just using weapons to wreck custom made cars. Wreckfest has set stages/cars (which can be upgraded), which can be either races with laps or destruction derbies. There are no weapons other than the cars themselves smashing into each other.

The multiplayer is perfect too, even with randos. The other cars are basically just glorified AI to me--you barely interact with anyone outside of the actual events, which are geared toward having as much chaos as possible anyway, so it's not like there's a bunch of griefing going on or anything like that. Just hop in, do a couple events, hop out and you're done.

The Racing Dorks have done a few multiplayer nights where we'll just have a handful of people and we'll all pop into a server and just screw around for a couple hours. No one cares if we win or lose because like I said, races are basically just barely controlled chaos anyway, and it's just a matter of time before you mess up a turn, eat a wall, or flip your car because you hit a jump at a weird angle.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
EvilDead wrote:

Wow that is a really good lineup.

I had the opposite reaction. First lineup in awhile where I feel like there's nothing for me. Which is totally fine! Maybe I'll give PoE a spin, but I haven't heard very good things about it.

It's definitely "simulation" weighted. There are a bunch of well reviewed games, that are slightly outside my normal wheelhouse, that I've wanted to try.

Should I play POE1 before POE2?

I had abandoned my games tourist tendencies for the past few weeks when I restarted my play through of RDR2. I have just gotten a tiny bit farther than I did the first time through, and things were going swimmingly, but...

I went and watched that PoE2 trailer and I’m suddenly consumed with the new-shiny and I JUST. CAN’T. SHAKE IT! So long, RDR2. I’ll try to come back to you sooner than I did the last time.

My gaming ADD is so bad with Gamepass. I actually somewhat look forward to the day when I've played all the games that are already on the platform and my standard routine is just to wait until the new games hit so I can play through those.

I only played about an hour of the Medium. Nothing about the gameplay was interesting to me. I was interested in the rest of the story and how things end so I watched a 5 hour play through on YouTube. Definitely a game that (for me) is more interesting to watch than play. If it wasn’t on game pass I probably would have never checked it out at all but I’m glad I did.

I did finally finish The Medium. The bleak subject matter made it so that I played it in small segments over the course of a few weeks. I thought it was a skillfully done psychological horror game in the vein of the Silent Hill series, and I was relieved that it didn't have as much combat or stealth gameplay as I was expecting. (A number of reviewers dinged it for being a "walking sim" which, in my opinion, made it significantly better.) Given the game's storyline, visuals, and deliberately retro gameplay, it's not a game that I would recommend to everyone, but I'm happy to have played it.