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The Medium is basically a new Silent Hill, and Akira Yamaoka is just bloody icing on the cake

(Image credit: Bloober)

It's hard not to look at Bloober's new game, The Medium, and think they've just decided to make their own Silent HIll game. It makes sense. If Konami isn't going to do it someone has to. It's got all the hallmarks of the series: an otherworld that seeps into reality, someone travelling to a foggy, abandoned town to uncover horrible past secrets and, oh yeah, Silent Hill composer Akira freaking Yamaoka doing the music. If it turned out Pyramid Head was holding the camera for the trailer I'd barely blink.  

I see that town

It's not the first time Blooper's played with our emotions either. The initial reveal for Blair Witch teased the main character basically wearing James Sunderland's outfit and pretty much had the whole E3 2019 audience catch a 'wait, is it..?!' breath. This time, the studio seems to have gone all out. Ignoring Akira Yamaoka for a moment, the entire story screams Silent Hill in every way. There's the two worlds thing for starters: the real world, set interestingly in 1980's Poland, and "the spirit one". What that means and how it ties into the main character Marianne's story remains to be seen but comparisons are clear. The world shifts and peels away, revealing the spirit one underneath as the layers dissolve into dust. The only thing missing is a Bubblehead Nurse shuffling around the corner after the transition. 

(Image credit: Bloober)

There's an implication that this other world will not only look different but reveal things as well, with talk of "wider perspectives" and "no simple truth to what others perceive" according to the press release. The angle might be that Marianne's medium abilities allow her to see things via this other world, and reveal new information, but even that smacks of Konami's horror series – in Silent Hil,l its Otherworld is formed from the horrors that created it; the monsters shambling metaphors revealing hidden truths with each wet footstep. 

Even the story sounds like the original Silent Hill: "Haunted by a vision of a child's murder, you travel to an abandoned hotel resort, which many years ago became the stage of an unthinkable tragedy". Child tragedy? Check? Abandoned town? Come on. Are they even trying to hide it? 

The Darkness That Lurks in Our Mind

It's also all playing to Bloober Team's strengths as a studio that loves psychological horror. Observer, Layers of Fear 2, and Blair Witch, while good, struggled to articulate a physical monster threat. That's because Blooper excels at scares that get inside your head – shifting levels and environments to leave you wondering if you might actually have gone mad in real life – doors that disappear when you're not looking. Corridors and rooms that shift in the corners of your eye. It's a developer that has an amazing ability to get inside your mind and make you doubt yourself, not the game. Applied to a Silent Hill set up of dualling alternate worlds and the potential is exciting.  

(Image credit: Bloober)

And then there's Akira Yamaoka. His music is so emotive and recognisable that you could put it over a yogurt commercial and someone would still say, 'wait, is this Silent Hill?' (which a member of GamesRadar actually did during The Medium's Xbox reveal). Put his music over a game riffing so hard on Silent Hills themes you can hear the strings twang, and it's all but a confirmation. 

It's basically a very exciting prospect. Blooper has never quite hit the heights of its incredible debut Layers of Fear with its subsequent games but it's always made good horror. It's a studio that knows terror is about more than gore, and in every game it's made has engineered some stand out scares through misdirection and surprise rather than loud noises and spatter. That's exactly the kind of team you want making a Silent Hill game. Sorry, a game that a lot like a Silent hill game.   

In former lives Leon's been a scientist, a musician and teacher, stints that included a shoe full of liquid nitrogen, a small tour of Germany and oh GOD so much marking.