Silent Hill, the series of psychological horror games, is iconic among the horror fans. The latest installment of the series, which was highly anticipated by its fans unfortunately got cancelled which caused their resentment and the antipathy for the Konami studio. So when the Polish studio Bloober Team which specialised in horror games announced their upcoming production titled The Medium, with similar settings and vibes, the first materials thrilled the Silent Hill fans. Furthermore, the devs went the whole hog and hired Akira Yamaoka, the composer behind the series, who collaborated for The Medium score with the Polish horror music specialist Arkadiusz Reikowski.
This soundtrack is equally minimalistic.
The main character of the game is a woman named Marianne, who is the eponymous medium. She is able to travel between the two worlds: the real one and the spiritual one. She connects with the spirits of the dead and helps them go away. However she considers her abilities more like a curse, rather than a gift. After saying the last goodbye to her foster father and sending his spirit to the other side, she receives a phone call from a mysterious man who begs her for help. He tells her to come to the abandoned government own vacation resort named Niwa, where once the horrible massacre of the guests and the personnel took place. After the arrival, Marianne will have to confront her own demons from the past.
The game is very immersive and the devs had a brilliant idea for the story, as the plot takes place often in both worlds simultanously. The dark corridors of the abandoned hotel correspond well with the surrealistic spiritual world. There are many connections between The Medium and Silent Hill: tight spaces, similarity of some puzzles, the characters’ psychology – which may encourage the fans of the series, tempted with Yamaoka presence as well, to give this game a try. Moreover, according to the series tradition, there is a guitar-themed song (The Love That Was Lost) in the beginning of the album, just like in case of the Silent Hill soundtracks.
I really enjoy that Arek Reikowski turned into the minimalist in his last scores (Blair Witch). This soundtrack is equally minimalistic. Long, heavy and low sounds of analog synthesizers build up the vibe and tension here (great Marianne and Manager’s Office), as well as drones and other unsettling sounds (The Ruins, Mirrors). We can find mystery and eeriness in Sadness – one of the two tracks with the vocalises by Liz Katrin, Don’t Go in There or My Name is Thomas, while Echoes and West Wings Part 01 have a very reflective mood. In the tracks such as the mentioned Echoes or Outside Niwa you can definitely hear Akira’s work. It’s almost like playing Silent Hill 2 for example.
Vibes similar to ones which appeared in Silent Hill can be heard in three quite interesting songs, featuring known from this horror series Mary Elizabeth McGlynn on vocals. However I do not understand why the devs placed them in a row near the end of the game, instead of doing that through the whole gameplay. When it comes to the themes of the monsters, like Childeater, The Maw Part 1 and Part 2, they are a mix of dark, gloomy synths. The score is almost entirely electronic, so it is filled with many interesting synth sounds that fit perfectly to the ethereal world of The Medium.
Does such collaboration of the two composers sound as interesting as an album like it does in-game? I can definitely say yes. The composers did their job well, which must have been hard regarding the pandemic, and The Medium OST despite being sparing in arrangements is not boring at all. The music is enjoyable to listen to without the context. Analog synthesizers have become popular recently mostly in TV shows (Stranger Things, Dark) and I am really happy of their presence also in video games. Especially that not every TV show score can be interesting without the video content.
The Medium OST is neither revolutionary nor cutting-edge, but it does not have to.
This soundtrack is the minimalism at its finest, although it is not lacking in charming melodies. It is also very important to mention the excellent sound design of the game, which animates and fills up the mysterious world of The Medium. The sound design combined with the music makes the world standards audio. The Medium OST is neither revolutionary nor cutting-edge, but it does not have to. It is a piece of solid musical craft which exposes the skills of both composers and reflects the world of the game really well.