The Medium

Arkadiusz Reikowski and Akira Yamaoka

" a work that is also able to sustain a continuous evocative, spacious tension remarkably well "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the download only release

The Medium is a 2021 video game developed by the Polish Blooper Team, known for previous endeavors such as Layers of Fear and Observer. This new game is another entry in their series of psychological horror games and deals with an adventure in which the players crisscrosses between two linked realities. Once again, Arkadiusz Reikowski scored a game by the same developer, but now collaborated with Akira Yamaoka, the composer who lent his musical voice to the excellent Japanese Silent Hill game series. The developers team clearly tap into similar terrain as Silent Hill and Reikowski admits Yamaoka’s music was of a huge inspiration to him as he began composing himself. Whoever came up with this idea, it feels like a completely logical idea. It is likely The Medium is the starting point of a longer lasting Japanese-Polish joint venture, as Yamaoka is also currently composing the music to the Polish-Japanese animation series based on CD Project RED's Cyberpunk 2077 called Edgerunners.

In collaborating, Reikowski was responsible for the overall musical direction, composed the music to the real world, while Yamaoka took on all the music of the spiritual world. Both use a variety of electronic tools, samples, percussion, some almost retro synths, others evidently present day ones. The key element in a good score for any psychological horror game is the ability to combine an often subtle psychological component and make it interact with a human emotion. The score to The Medium is not the most creative body of work, yet it is quite strong as a hallucinate, poignant, and ambient experience, a work that is also able to sustain a continuous evocative, spacious tension remarkably well.

There are some ingredients of a less attractive quality, mostly in the form of a few songs, which have always been the one disappointing musical factors from the very start of the Silent Hill series. While they tap into the sound of the score, they’re also constructed as mediocre ballads. However, the sampled wordless phrases of Liz Katrin in 'Sadness', such an excellent cue, and 'The Dark Room', are incredibly strong. Also, the opening track features the same mediocre soft, enfeebled electric guitars that Yamaoka used in Silent Hill before, which does work effectively in atmospheric reprises elsewhere in the score.

While I haven’t played the game yet, I have a strong sense the music must be wonderful, perhaps solely based on experiences with the playing of other similar games, and so I suspect it must be even more resonating in its intended interactive environment.  The release offers 80 minutes of excellent score.

1. The Love That Was Lost (4:13)
2. Marianne (4:33)
3. Goodbye Jack (3:19)
4. My Name Is Thomas (2:30)
5. Journey (1:35)
6. The Ruins (3:09)
7. Outside NIWA (3:45)
8. Echoes (5:02)
9. Sadness (feat. Liz Katrin) (3:08)
10. West Wings Part 01 (4:31)
11. Don’t Go In There (1:52)
12. West Wings Part 02 (3:25)
13. Manager’s Office (3:29)
14. Dark Room (feat. Liz Katrin) (1:36)
15. The Maw Part 01 (2:28)
16. Mirrors (4:29)
17. Fade (feat. Mary E. McGlynn & Troy Baker) (5:01)
18. The Maw Part 02 (2:53)
19. Richard (2:28)
20. Childeater (7:44)
21. The Hound (6:15)
22. Pump Station (3:32)
23. I Want To Wear Your Skin (4:17)
24. You Can’t Save Everyone Butterfly (7:21)
25. Across The Shore (feat. Mary E. McGlynn) (4:19)
26. It Starts With A Dead Girl (feat. Adam Rucki) (7:43)
27. Voices (feat. Mary E. McGlynn) (5:58)

Total duration: 1:50:21

(written 04-04-2021)
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 2 votes - average 2.5/5)

Released by

Bandcamp (download only release 2021)