Layers of Concern dev Bloober talks its Xbox Collection X survival horror throwback The Medium

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Because the launch of Layers of Concern in 2016, Polish developer Bloober has carved out a distinct segment for itself making a run of psychedelic first-person horror titles outlined by woozy spatial uncertainty and dazzling visible invention. Thus far that system has given the world the luscious haunted home thrills of Layers of Concern and its avant-garde silver display sequel, the squalid cyberpunk chills of The Observer, and the disorientating backwoods horror of Blair Witch. Now although, the studio is attempting one thing somewhat completely different with its subsequent title, The Medium – a third-person survival horror affair closely impressed by style classics like Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

If the identify The Medium sounds acquainted, it may be as a result of Bloober initially introduced the undertaking all the way in which again in 2012, with a plan to launch on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U. The studio has made point out of it sometimes since then, nevertheless it’s solely now, with an Xbox Collection X console exclusivity deal in place (it’ll launch on PC on the identical time) and a launch date in sight, that Bloober is lastly keen to share extra on what it calls the “greatest sport we have constructed” and its “most formidable undertaking but”.

In The Medium, gamers are solid because the psychically gifted Marianne, a girl who’s been haunted by visions of a kid’s homicide for years. In a closing effort to uncover the reality behind these pictures, Marianne travels to an deserted resort resort, the place the motion correct begins.

As you may think, Marianne’s distinctive talent set is on the coronary heart of the expertise and, as a medium, she’s capable of inhabit two planes of existence on the identical time: the traditional world and the spirit world. This, lead designer Wojciech Piejko tells me, opens up alternatives for gamers to make use of their psychic skills to discover the hostile spirit world, and to see and expertise issues that may change their perspective of occasions and different characters alongside the way in which.

That notion of two parallel planes of existence impinging on each other instantly calls to thoughts Silent Hill’s Otherworld, and Bloober is barely too comfortable to acknowledge The Medium’s inspirations. The traditional survival horror affect is clear elsewhere too, after all, given The Medium’s ditching of Bloober’s favoured first-person perspective for semi-fixed digicam angles, and additional stoking these nostalgic comparisons, the studio has referred to as upon the abilities of famed Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka, who’s working alongside Bloober’s musical collaborator Arkadiusz Reikowski to arrange The Medium’s rating.

Based on Piejko, although, it is not all about summoning the spirit of gaming previous; as an alternative, borrowing the conventions of survival horror classics has supplied the studio with alternatives it hasn’t been capable of deal with earlier than. “At Bloober, we like to think about ourselves as storytellers,” he explains, “Each one in all our video games is constructed round a selected topic – so, for instance, Layers of Concern was constructed round work versus household points… in The Observer we tackled the subject of boundaries of humanity, the road between the human and the machine, and with Blair Witch we introduced within the topic of post-traumatic dysfunction, about guilt that burns you from the within.”

The Medium’s change from first-person to extra cinematic mounted digicam angles has, says Piejko, enabled the workforce to inform its story on a extra intimate degree. “We actually need to bump up the immersion [in The Medium] and the immersion is completely different while you see your character and different characters in these cut-scenes. For instance – and this is not one thing taking place within the sport – in case you think about somebody from your loved ones is dying in your palms, when you have that scene from a first-person perspective in your sport, it is not as highly effective as in a third-person perspective, the place you’ll be able to see the face and eyes of your characters.”


“Mainly,” he says, “we’re designing the sport like a film, planning the perfect pictures, the perfect digicam angles.” And certainly, though atmospheric dread and psychological scares are core to the expertise, Piejko says the workforce is striving to ship one thing deeper too. “Taking part in as a medium will provide you with a really distinctive perspective that is past the attain for unusual folks, and so the sport’s assertion is that there is no such thing as a common fact,” he explains, “there may be at all times some gray space, and we expect this matter is super-important proper now once we are bombarded by media attempting to shift our views.

“Generally in case you crop a photograph appropriately it offers you a very completely different message, so in The Medium we increase this matter, and the story is crafted in order that the participant will reveal an increasing number of data which is able to change their perspective on what occurred within the sport and their opinion concerning the different characters.”

The final word purpose, says Piejko, is to “put some questions into gamers’ minds… we’re not instantly answering them…we’re not attempting to guage, we try to make our gamers suppose.”


As for why it is taken the studio so lengthy from The Medium’s preliminary announcement in 2012 to launch the sport, Piejko says the workforce merely hasn’t been capable of absolutely realise its imaginative and prescient till now. “Solely the next-gen horsepower [has given] us instruments to create the sport that we needed,” he tells me, “that is why we have been ready for this for a very long time.”

Nevertheless, after I ask what, precisely, it’s the studio has struggled to attain till now, Piejko stays coy, solely sharing that it is associated to The Medium’s “tremendous secret function” – one which Bloober needs to maintain again for a later reveal. “I can say it is one thing to do with how the worlds work together with one another,” he teases, “and the way it is possible for you to to expertise them”.


On the technical aspect, although, Piejko is a minimum of keen to substantiate that The Medium will assist 4K and ray-tracing, and also will make use of Xbox Collection X’s extra environment friendly background streaming. “Immersion could be very essential for us,” he explains, “and having this seamless expertise with none interruptions like loading and stuff is ideal for horror video games.”

We’ll know if that next-gen pizzazz actually has introduced new life to Medium’s retro-inspired scares when it launches on PC and as an Xbox Collection X console unique in “vacation 2020”.

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