One of the biggest arguments on IGN threads is the value that Xbox fanboys put on Game Pass, it’s such a good deal you’d have to be stupid not to have it… to them it’s a system seller beyond the power of any exclusive title… to the Sony fanboys it’s a collection of old games that nobody wants to play.
The same fanboys will argue more, although the roles are reversed somewhat, when the topic switches to the newly unveiled “PS Plus Collection” which gives PS+ subscribers on the PS5 access to a range of PS4 titles for no extra charge.
I don’t really have any urge to subscribe to Game Pass, if I want a game I’ll generally buy it, and I have a backlog of 30+ titles that I really want to play and feel that, at best, Game Pass will only add to that… and even then not by much, the majority of games on Game Pass that I haven’t played are games that I never wanted to play in the first place.
Add to that the cost of it… I already have a Live subscription that hasn’t cost me a penny for the last 3 or 4 years thanks to the Rewards program, so paying £7.99 a month for access to the service seems incredibly expensive.
£1 for 3 months as a trial though… occasionally that makes sense.
This can only be done once with an existing account… so say hello to “PowerStraw50132” a new account on a new email address (and they haven’t noticed that this email is the same as the one’s they send purchase confirmations on my main account to) which has a Gamerscore of 0 but shares a console with my main account which has been playing a couple of Game Pass titles recently.
Having played through “Call of the Sea” which was a decent enough puzzle game, even if some of the puzzle solutions were a little obscure, I moved onto the real reason I picked up a “trial” subscription in the first place… The Medium.
Had this released physically then I’d probably have bought the game… now, having finished it, I’m quite glad I didn’t… not that the game is bad, it’s a very good story game, but there is zero replay value.
In fact the only replay value is for completionists who missed a collectible first time through… for the Achievements you have to collect them all in one play through, and if you’re not careful even following a guide you can miss one by examining the wrong thing first once you reach a certain point.
It looks fantastic, especially when it goes into split screen mode and you’re moving around both simultaneously… on one occasion whilst conversing in the spirit world a huge eerie hand could be seen moving outside the windows in the background… but by far the best example of this is the final scene where it goes into full slider comparison mode and moves around the screen alternately showing more of one world than the other.
It’s very linear, often you can’t leave an area to back track for whatever reason until you’ve completed the puzzle in the area you’re in… and while most of these are simple enough, sometimes you can’t help but feel you missed something before hand.
For example… I’m headed down a corridor, following a trail of spirit footprints and they go through a door, I don’t have the key to the door so part of me feels I must have missed something (while I used a guide for the collectibles it was just the collectibles, any puzzles were my own problem) so I want to go back… not entirely possible… when I moved past the door I found the footprints again so part of me figures whatever was behind that door was fairly unimportant so I press on… which is where the first version of an invisible wall appears.
The key to the door was, naturally, in a room between the closed door and the invisible wall… and the contents of the two rooms there were narrative driven… so if you wanted the full story you had to go inside and work through that part.
What starts to grate around this time is the slow speed of your characters movement… even “running” barely seems to make any difference to the speed of movement, it’s barely a jog let alone a run, and you first notice this when forced to find a way into a building and the item needed is at the far end of a long car park… so you “run” all the way there, grab the object and collectible, and then “run” back again.
None of the puzzles are that hard, while I could easily check a separate YouTube video of someone doing a complete play through of the game, I only referred to this on one occasion near the end to bypass another “entity” in the game to hit a switch… which was a wonderful exploit/use of the whole two-world set up.
What grabbed my attention was a near total lack of combat, I’m an utterly average player at best, and while there are some chase sections as you run away from the aforementioned “entity” but that’s it… so that was fine by me, I didn’t even mind the small stealth sections where you creep around avoiding detection by it… why it’s there at all is explained way later in the piece.
The story is dark, very dark, hints at child abuse abound in the second part of the game and your first “diversion” from Marianne’s tale… in fact the whole second half of the game opens the story up so much that revelations and twists hit you every 30 minutes or so… so while the puzzles are starting to get a little similar (having to activate a power generator in the spirit world using spirit energy to turn something on in the real world) and the running is now a real grind… the story makes up for it.
What did surprise me is the occasional texture pop in… while the game has some great looking graphics at time, and some of the spirit world locations look stunning, when you’re examining an object close up for a puzzle (in this case moving a mirror from room to room in a doll’s house in the real world to help in the spirit world) the graphics should not be popping in as you select where to put the mirror next.
8 hours into the game I hit the ending, and while I now knew who the characters were, how they related to Marianne, and how everything fit into place the ending happens off screen, in fact just a blank screen, followed by the same line of dialogue spoken at the very start of the game.
The one big fault is that a key character is introduced very, very late into the game and is appallingly under used as a result… another 30 minutes of play which would give this character a little additional background, or dealing with your character coming to terms with the plot twist at that point would have been totally acceptable.
It leaves a lot of room for a sequel, and the post credit scene shows another character’s whereabouts are unknown at the time of the games ending… and I’d happily play through another game… it’s worth a play if you have Game Pass… but it’s not worth the £40+ currently being charged in the UK.