Although “The Medium” is billed as a psychological horror game, I found it to be consistently unsettling rather than scary. There is a vengeful monster that Marianne must deal with intermittently, but except for one breathtaking scene where he chases her through different realities — resulting in shifts in perspective that strike like tidal waves — I didn’t think much of him. Nothing robs a creepy game of its power as forcing a player to confront the same monster too many times so, thankfully, the monster encounters are nicely spread out. “The Medium” might not have the most nightmarish adversary but its blanketing, foreboding atmosphere and uncompromising ending amply makes up for it.
I’d wager that Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales will be remembered as the year’s most ingratiating family-friendly video game. It is a feel-good, unabashed spectacle that controls well, looks great and has a hyper-efficient story line that never tries to overdeliver.
By cleverly leaning on the conventions of YA fiction — supernatural elements, family conflicts and the like — the studio has hit emotional peaks rarely, if ever, seen before in gaming (both the first and the second Life is Strange games left me misty-eyed).
“Half-Life’s” ties to survival-horror shine in “Alyx.” One enemy that most who have played “Half-Life” will remember are the Barnacles — monstrosities that attach themselves to the ceiling and dangle their long, thin, dark tongues close to the ground. VR makes their presence more unnerving. A random moment I loved happened when I pulled an object toward me that a Barnacle caught then with its tongue and devoured. I moved into place underneath it while carefully avoiding its grotesque appendage and fired a few shots, killing it and causing it to spit up my item. In that moment, and several others, I felt noticeably transported to one of the most vivid science fiction worlds I’ve experienced.
Over the length of this very long game you’ll travel back and forth across the streets of Revachol, repeatedly interviewing and following up with people. If you’re not averse to reading loads of text that is often funny and given to riffing on different ideologies, it can be an easy rhythm to get into. Don’t dawdle. Go ahead, run toward the wild side.