In Tim Baker’s first novel, Living The Dream, Kurt, a down and out plumber’s helper; Jimmy, a dishonest businessman, who is up to his ears in cheating and embezzlement; Vicky, a disheartened wife; and Danny, an easy going dive shop owner all have two things in common: they’re all having some very strange dreams and they all feel that somehow, their dreams will come true. Kurt’s dreams lead him on a very rough ride to the Florida coast to carry out a get rich quick scheme that is not even fully developed in his mind. Jimmy thinks that his dreams are telling him that the walls are closing in around him and it’s time to break away and start a new life. Vicky is dreaming of a handsome mystery man, who is everything her husband is not. Danny is dreaming of a mysterious woman, the girl of his dreams, so to speak, and he is following clues from his dreams to find her.
Their dreams do, in fact, come true, but not in the same ways as each one envisions, as they are all drawn together by circumstance, while trying to sort through the craziness of their individual dream worlds. When their lives unwittingly intermix, it is an ending for some of them and a new beginning for others, but one thing is certain. They never dreamed that it would be like this.
Readers will never be bored while reading this comical race to riches, where nothing is at it appears. No one is truly in control, although they all think that they are. It’s hard to tell the guys from the bad, at times, and you may be surprised who ends up winners in this truly entertaining tale, as they all search for riches and happiness.
You can find Living The Dream and other books by Tim Baker at Blindogg Books
Reading Tim Baker’s Fool’s Gold Rush was like a reunion with old friends. As in all of Baker’s books, Ike is the anti-hero the reader can’t help but like, and Brewski plays the role of the loyal sidekick. Already, the reader is guarenteed a great action adventure. And Fool’s Gold Rush delivers.
With a plot that takes more twists and turns than a winding mountain road, this tale will keep readers turning pages. While trying to help his sister get away from her abusive husband, Lee gets caught up in a scam to raise money for her hospital bills and pay off the gambling debt he owes to Ralph Denobian. When Ike and Brewski come to collect, they decide to lend a hand and end up in the middle of a kidnapping and a plot to steal Ike’s gold from the museum. When the kidnapper finds out about the gold, the deal changes and he wants to exchange the gold for Lee’s sister and her autistic son, Ronny, but when the thieves get away with the gold, making the exchange may not be possible. Ike knows nothing comes easy, and with every setback he bares down and regroups until he finds a way to make things work out in his favor.
Like all of Baker’s books, Fool’s Gold Rush is well-crafted and filled with plot twists, unique characters, and lots of surprises. I give Fool’s Gold Rush five quills.
Other books I’ve reviewed by Tim Baker include: Eyewitness Blues, Unfinished Business, Pump It Up, Living the Dream, Doomed to Repeat, Blood in the Water, 24 Minutes, Full Circle, No Good Deed, Backseat to Justice, and Water Hazard. (Yep, I’m a long time fan.)
Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.
“What’s wrong with kids today?”
This lament has been uttered by every generation since Adam and Eve discovered they were pregnant a second time.
So….what IS wrong with kids these days?
They feel as if they have no future. The last few extant generations simply don’t. Futures come in handy when you feel as though the world will be unrecognizable before you’ve grown up. As a child of The Mushroom Cloud I know what that feels like, that amputation of the future. It made me really angry. My friends and I were more likely to commit petty crimes and indulge in drugs. Without a future, why bother? Why work hard in school? Why cultivate disciplines, interests, social connections? The oceans are rising and will drown your block or your whole neighborhood. The coolest animals will be extinct. No elephants, no polar bears. What kind of future is that?
Then I discovered a TV show called “So You Think You Can Dance”. You can knock me over with what these kids are doing! Their bodies must be INCREDIBLY strong and flexible. These kids are doing the impossible! Has the human race mutated? Do we have extra joints, super-human muscle memory? Who ARE these people?
They’re just kids. Their secret is that they found a passion, something that interested them so much that they said “fuck it” to the absence of the future and decided to live for this thing called Dance. It was better than being a thug. Thugs are mean, WAY mean and being mean doesn’t feel very good. Not as good as practicing B-moves, Krumping, flapping, sapping, tapping, robot-twitching, water-waving, learning your body’s capabilities and stretching them further, further, further!
This is IT! Sometimes it’s called ART. Don’t be embarrassed by the word ART. It’s cool to do ART. It’s okay. Even if it’s gay it doesn’t matter. Nobody cares about gay any more. You can be gay, you can change from man to woman or woman to man, nobody cares! If you want to know where it is, where the cutting edge in creativity can be found these days you can see it on “So You Think You Can Dance”. The judges aren’t scary. They aren’t there to cut you down. They want to show you The Future. Word up, Bro. There IS a future. Nobody can stop it. It takes some work. Everything good takes work. Making a future is hard work. It’s not like it used to be, when the Future was going to happen no matter what. Now it takes a little faith and a lot of work, but it’s there: you… DO…Have…A…Future. Do you want it to kick you in the nuts or do you want to dance with it?
When has anyone given a shit about choreoraphy? Are you kidding? Corey-who? Shazam! Choreographers are the composers of Dance. They arrange the time-space-music continuum in which Dance exists. On the TV show they are not only given credit, they are like stars! Now I know the work of Tice Diorio, Mia Michaels, Sonya Tayeh, “Nappytab”, Stacey Tookey and Travis Wall. Choreographers come from the elder population of dancers. They still dance but they are the keepers of the flame, the mentors of the seventeen through twenty two year old dancers who are living the dreams.
I’m not sure there is any more difficult art form than what is now appearing as Dance. It’s not enough to specialize. You can’t be a ballroom dancer, a hip-hopper or a Broadway hoofer. One of the messages of So You Think You Can Dance is that you must be trained in ALL the dance styles. Choreographers wont’ hire you if you don’t know all the styles of dance. Choreographers are the Gate Keepers, the bosses, the ones who hire dancers. Get tight with the choreographers who work at SYTYCD and you will be employed for years to come. In time, you will become a choreographer.
The most amazing thing about the dance numbers on this show is their purity. We’re not seeing arrangements for pop superstars. We’re not seeing choreography for Taylor Swift or Michael Jackson (RIP). These dance routines are created for the television audience. For US! Sometimes magic happens on that stage. Those of you who watch the show know what I mean. In more than a decade this show has lifted the art of Dance so that each season is more amazing than the last. The mutations continue. Evolution is visible year to year. Dancers get more flexible, their muscle memories become more detailed, malleable, imprintable. This happens in front of our eyes. Sure, it’s a TV contest show aimed at a teenage demographic. That’s how things work. Consider the difference between the egregious karaoke of American Idol and the drama and high art of So You Think You Can Dance. Big difference, yeah?
Big big difference.
A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good. His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv.
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Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing (Part 2): Interview with Self-Published author, Tim BakerPosted: October 24, 2016
Today I want to talk a little about definitions, because people often independent publishing as an umbrella term to cover authors who are self-published, as well as those authors who are published through an independent publishing house. I’m guilty of this, too, as the title for this article series does not differentiate, although the series will be looking at all three options. From here on out, I will differentiate between self-published and independently published authors, and refer to smaller presses as independent presses vs, the larger publishing houses, which shall be referred to as traditional publishers.
In Part 1 of this series, I interviewed self-published author Jeff Bowles to get his thoughts on the publishing industry as an emerging author today. Today’s interview is with Tim Baker, the author of nine novels, two novellas, and a collection of short stories, all self-published under his own brand, Blindogg Books. I’ve had the privilege of reviewing many of those books and can tell you he writes a well crafted story. His publishing credits include Living the Dream, Water Hazard, Backseat to Justice, No Good Deed, Unfinished Business, Eyewitness Blues, Pump It Up, Full Circle, Dying Days, with Armand Rosamillia, and Path of a Bullet. You can contact Tim Baker or find out more about his work by visiting his website at blindoggbooks.com.
Kaye: Would you share your own publishing story with us?
Tim: My love for reading came early in life when I discovered Treasure Island and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at the age of ten.
A high school journalism class and a creative writing course in college turned my love of reading into a love of writing. In 1988, I began writing a book called Full Circle, which combined my love of writing with my interest in Karma. A chain of events caused the unfinished, handwritten manuscript to be tucked into a box. During the ‘90s, my time was divided between raising my son, owning a home and building a career in engineering, leaving no time for writing. It remained untouched until February of 2015 when I dusted it off and completed it for release in November 2015.
By the time I moved to Florida in 2006, my dream of penning a novel was all but forgotten…until one night when a dream rekindled my passion for writing.
Then, in April 2007, I had a dream about two old friends and a submerged box of gold bars. The next day I found himself trying to figure out the story behind the dream. By the end of that day, the impetus of a story had formed and I had scribbled out two chapters in a spiral notebook.
One year later, my first novel, Living the Dream, was complete and the dam had burst — I soon followed up with my second novel Water Hazard.
Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Tim: The funny thing is that I never really wanted to be an author – at least not consciously.
Even though I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing…it wasn’t until after my first book was published that I realized I was an author. All of a sudden I was an author – which was fine, because by then I had come to the realization that I loved writing.
Kaye: What made you decide to self-publish?
Tim: It wasn’t until after I completed the manuscript for my first novel (Living the Dream) that I started thinking about having it published. After a year of research I had learned a great deal about the differences between traditional publishing and indie publishing, and I decided that indie suited me better – primarily because I had read dozens of accounts about the overwhelming odds of landing a traditional publishing contract. I was not thrilled with the prospect of putting the fate of my novel in the hands of somebody who could shoot it down for any reason at all. This just didn’t seem fair.
Kaye: How did Blindogg Books come about?
Tim: Blindogg Books came about because my research taught me that indie authors need a brand for marketing purposes. I also learned that there are at least 3 other published authors named Tim Baker…so I decided to go with something other than my name.
During the 90s I raised and socialized puppies to be guide dogs for the blind…eventually I picked up the nickname “blind dog” which was changed to blindogg for internet identity reasons. When I needed a name for my brand I thought Blindogg Books had a nice ring to it. (for more info on this go to my blog)
Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of independent publishing?
Tim: I’ve had this conversation with many people and I like to sum it up this way;
Independent publishing is a “good news/bad news” situation. The good news is that anybody can publish a book – the bad news…anybody can publish a book. The vast majority of indie authors produce quality work, however the fate of their work depends on the book buying public, so when potential readers read one of the few indie works that just wasn’t ready for publication (for whatever reason) they tend to paint all indie authors with the broad brush of low quality. So even though it’s very easy to have your work published, it’s very difficult to convince readers who have had a bad experience that your work is worthy of their money.
Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of traditional publishing?
Tim: Not having any experience in the traditional world I can only speculate. I have to think that having the power of a large publishing house behind you for promotion and advertising is a nice relief from self-promotion. I also think it would be nice to get a big advance for a book. On the down side, I wouldn’t want to work under a contract which dictates when I have to finish a book. I’ve also heard that those big advances are only good if you sell enough books to cover the amount advanced. Obviously we all think our work will sell – but if it doesn’t (for whatever reason) I’d hate to have to give money back!
Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of independent publishing?
Tim: I’ve had this conversation with many people and I like to sum it up this way;
Independent publishing is a “good news/bad news” situation.
The good news is that anybody can publish a book – the bad news…anybody can publish a book.
The vast majority of indie authors produce quality work, however the fate of their work depends on the book buying public, so when potential readers read one of the few indie works that just wasn’t ready for publication (for whatever reason) they tend to paint all indie authors with the broad brush of low quality. So even though it’s very easy to have your work published, it’s very difficult to convince readers who have had a bad experience that your work is worthy of their money.
Kaye: How much work do you contract out? Book Covers? Editing? Etc…?
Tim: Everything!! I write it – then let others do the things I’m not qualified to do. This includes editing, formatting (for kindle and paperback) and cover design/layout. Many indie authors try to do these things themselves, but I would rather pay somebody to do it because I know they’ll do a much better job than I will and I won’t be wasting my time doing something that somebody else could do in half the time, leaving me more time for writing and marketing.
The most important one of the lot (in my opinion) is editing. Any money spent on a qualified editor is money well spent. Hiring your high school English teacher or a friend/relative who is “really good at English and reads a lot” will not give you a professional quality job.
Nobody knows more than me how difficult it is to fork out hundreds of dollars foran editor, but I want my books to be the best they can be.
Kaye: So, you’re saying self-published books that aren’t of good quality stigmatize the reputation of independently published books in general?
Tim: Yes. Readers, like all consumers, don’t want to waste money on sub-par products, so if they buy an indie book that is poorly written, edited or formatted they are likely to assume that this is the level of quality for all indie books.
Kaye: Do you think one of the major contributing factors to this stigma is authors who don’t want to spend money to have their books professionally edited? Or do you see other causes?
Tim: Absolutely. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. As I said above, many indie authors think editors are like dentists – a necessary evil. I think a qualified editor is more like a good tailor. You can buy a suit off the rack and it might look decent, but a suit that is professionally tailored will make you look outstanding – and people will notice the difference!
This is not to say there aren’t other causes.
People who write a book without trying to learn even the most basic “rules” lower the bar for all of us. I hate using the word rules, let’s say guidelines…whatever you want to call them – they are critical to producing a book that will make people want to read your next one. These days there is no excuse for not learning how to write a good book. There are a gazillion websites and blogs out there devoted to teaching people how to write – use them. Most of them are free.
But – the best way to learn how to write is to read. Learn from the good books as well as the bad…
Kaye: How much non-writing work, (marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself for your books?
Tim: I don’t have an exact number, but my conservative estimate is that for every hour I spend writing – I spend three hours marketing. I tell people all the time – writing the book is the easy part…selling it is where the work starts.
Kaye: Would you recommend your chosen path to publication, to emerging writers? Why or why not?
Tim: I’m not sure how to answer that – mostly because my path wasn’t chosen as much as it was found. I had no idea what I was doing – so I did lots of research – the most valuable of which was learning from other writers. So for any emerging writers who may be reading this I can only say this…there is a ton of information at your fingertips. The internet and especially social media can help you find the path best suited for you. Get out there and tap into it. Ask questions, do your research and learn from those who went before you.
I want to thank Tim for sharing his thoughts on the publishing industry and his advice with us. Be sure to check out next weeks interview with self-published author, Arthur Rosch, on Writing to be Read.
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Tim Baker’s latest novel, Full Circle, is a story about how our choices affect others, sometimes others we don’t even know, in unexpected ways. What does one do when your boss thinks you owe him a favor and asks you to commit murder? Mark Sullivan is faced with the choice and what he does sets in motion surprising events, while his boss, Joe Moretti’s choices set other events in motion, involving other people, and all these paths cross in some very entertaining ways.
As in all of Baker’s books several seemingly unrelated characters weave their way through the intricate details of plot with delightfully entertaining antics. A recovering alcoholic, a single mother trying to make ends meet, a self-centered contractor, an over-protective father, and a homeless woman, who seem to have little in common, find their karmic paths crossing in unexpected ways, but it all comes together when they come Full Circle.
In Living the Dream, a plumber’s apprentice with a moral code ends up crossing paths with a crooked contractor who’s unfaithful to his wife, and the endearing residents of Flagler Beach. In No Good Deed, a homeless guy and a gangster’s girlfriend cross paths with the plumber’s apprentice, who has straightened out his life and is now a groundskeeper trying to live the straight and narrow, some big time mobsters and a two-bit con-man, along with our old friends from Flagler Beach and surrounding areas. It’s one of the things I admire about Baker’s works.
I think the difference with Full Circle may be that the karmic element is the theme of the story, and it feels like the characters are forced to fit the mold on this one. I must admit, I was a little disappointed by it. Tim Baker is a talented author, with the ability to bust out this kind of story with skill and finesse, but it feels off in this book. It’s nothing I can put my finger on, but it didn’t grab my attention from the starting line, like Baker’s other books have. As a result, I found it harder to invest myself in the story and care about the characters.
Don’t get me wrong. Full Circle is a good story, a delightful tale, actually. It will make you smile, and make you sit on the edge of your seat at times. It will draw chuckles in all the right places. Although the execution is a little off, it’s not enough to make me put the book down. I still wanted to keep reading to see what happens next. I give Full Circle three quills.
You can find Full Circle and other books by Tim Baker on his website, Blindogg Books.
No one is ever ready to die because we never know when our time is up. Some, who die of a terminal illness, may know that death is approaching and have time to put their affairs in order, but death strikes most unprepared and they leave this life with unfinished business hanging… well, unfinished. Unfinished Business by Tim Baker is a creative and original story that explores the possibilities how the universe may balance the scales and take care of those things that have been left unfinished by departed souls. This delightfully entertaining story will tickle your funny bone and keep you guessing.
When Meg Seabury loses her friend and mentor, Lita, she inherits an unexpected gift, although at times she wonders if it isn’t a curse. Suddenly, Meg is able to see the final thoughts of those who cross the threshold of the funeral home where she works, and she soon learns that it is up to her to finish what they didn’t have the chance to take care of. Her new abilities lead her on a strange roller-coaster ride to places she would never go and compels her to do things she would never do in her old “normal” life. Not all that’s left undone are positive events. Meg finds she doesn’t have a choice but to carry through, restoring the balance of the universe, even if it leads her into dangerous situations or could land her in jail.
Unfinished Business is now added to the list of novels by Tim Baker recommended by this reviewer, which also includes Water Hazard, No Good Deed, Pump It Up, Backseat to Justice and Living the Dream. All Tim’s books are available at www.blindoggbooks.com.
The first time I grasped that I was deeply crazy was when I began to eat huge amounts of food. I indulged especially in sweets. If I were to make a pie chart of my life (and refrain from eating it), I’m sure it would show huge chunks of time in the bulimia/anorexia’ zone. The worst of my food disorders followed me through adolescence; years seventeen through twenty two. I was a “student” out in the world, trying to maneuver by being on college campuses.
I had a sneaky way of being anorexic. I deluded myself into thinking that this was a spiritual discipline. Macrobiotics. It would get me high, exalt me spiritually. By eating small portions of brown rice and onions, chickpeas in barley, I was the paragon of yogic discipline. This was who I wanted myself to be. I got skinny. I weighed 125. On top of this I was taking LSD, DMT and smoking weed. I was deep into my purpose, my destiny of becoming a musician of salvation and a figure of reverence. I hope you can hear the self mockery in my tone.
Then I came to a breaking point. After a year of eating a strict Macrobiotic diet I had such a craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I bought the ingredients and took them back to my hidey hole. “What are you doing?” I asked myself. “This is a self betrayal, this is the opposite of Macrobiotic discipline. You asshole, what a failure you are!” So I ate it. Then I ate something else sweet and gooey. Then I couldn’t stop eating every kind of junk food on the planet. I had been like a coiled spring ready to bounce. Boing!
I was so ashamed of myself. This was 1967, before eating disorders had been invented. I was a pioneer. My bulimia wasn’t the pukey kind. It was the Exercise Freakishly type of bulimia, the one where on alternate days I would purge with sweat and effort, then follow with a day of relentless eating: an entire apple pie, backed up by a half gallon of ice cream. After that came the cookies, and so forth. One day exercising. One day binge eating. Back and forth, one followed the other, for more than a year. It was insane and I knew it. I got so unhealthy that I could pull out hands full of my own hair! I looked for help. I went to the college shrink. I was desperate. He said, “I don’t know what’s happening to you and I can’t help you.”
Ironically, I lost weight. My waist was a twenty nine or thirty. I was not a registered student any more, I had dropped out. I was living in a vacant student’s quarter, avoiding the security guys and bedding down with a pad and sleeping bag. I got money from my dad. I worked as a stable boy at a local horse ranch. I had my drums stashed at the university’s music building in a practice room. I practiced there for hours every day, getting high by all means and experimenting with the limits of my technique. That was the point of not attending classes. I let my dad pay for semesters at Western Reserve and then I would slip down to Antioch College in Yellow Springs from Cleveland and hang out with people who talked to trees. I practiced with relentless vigor, working through the famous “Stick Control” book and listening to Coltrane records.
Wait a minute. I’m conflating two different periods of time. It doesn’t matter. That’s the way memory works. It’s all narrative but sometimes the pages are out of order. I find myself more objective about my life as I get older. My life has been so bizarre that it qualifies as the stuff of novels. That poor guy (that is, myself) didn’t know what lay ahead. He thought that if he took enough acid, did yoga and meditation, ate rice and played the drums then he would launch himself into nirvana. It’s not a bad plan, really. The problem was that I was fractured psychologically, harboring behaviors that would shame me again and again. They would almost kill me.
These were adolescent ordeals, but they were precursors to my future. In 1967 my eighteen year old self dreamed of cosmic unity while the biggest thing that lay ahead of me was heroin addiction. I interrogated my psyche by reading Jung and Freud. After that came years of therapy. I was determined to save myself.
It took a long time, but none of it can be repudiated. I am lucky to be alive and well.
I’m still slightly food disordered. I control, compensate, manage. Mostly I exercise and pray.
Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.
Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, “Confessions Of An Honest Man” won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.
More of his work can be found at www.artrosh.com
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Reviewed on Xbox Series X – Also available on Xbox One and Xbox Series S
Fear can be a tricky thing to nail down. From a storytelling perspective, it’s more complicated than basic jump scares and grotesque slight of hand. In order to really scare people you’ve got to get inside their heads, and that’s exactly what independent Polish game developer Bloober Team has tried to do in their latest Xbox exclusive, The Medium. The basic selling point is a new gaming mechanic in which the player is occasionally required to control their character in two different spiritual “realms” at the same time. It’s a cool idea, novel in the sense that dedicated gaming consoles have never been powerful enough to render this kind of thing before, but it’s also a little bit gimicky, and that’s hard to ignore.
Whether it’s the stunning and seriously disturbed environments found in the land of the dead, the screaming, groping, crying, ever-present monster who shamelessly plagues you wherever you go, or the expertly revealed mystery of the murder of one lively little dead girl, the game is seriously invested in freaking you out. Does it do its job? For the most part, but there’s not a whole lot of basic modern scare tactics in use here that we haven’t seen before. The game’s narrative is anything but perfectly realized, and certain technical shortcomings hurt the overall experience, but The Medium is more than the sum of its parts. This could’ve been a huge disaster. It’s not though, even if it is the brand new system’s first and only true exclusive. Watch our video review for a good look at the game in action:
Our hero, the eponymous medium of this ghost story, is a young woman named Marianne. We never really get the sense she’s super experienced at this gig, because contextually speaking, she seems to be using many of her incredible abilities for the first time. First time having an out of body experience, first time getting stalked by a giant, faceless, pan-dimensional demon with a serious skin fetish. I mean it, there’s this frightening and freakish dude who follows you around for the entire second half of the game. No attacking, shooting, bludgeoning, or stabbing for you. The only way to win is to keep running and hiding. Can’t we get a moment’s peace?!
More or less The Medium’s shortcomings boil down to this: the camera is locked off in old-school Resident Evil fashion, making navigation cumbersome and awkward. Additionally, puzzles and quests are never as smart as you want them to be. The much-touted split-screen mechanic of simultaneously dwelling in both the world of the living and the land of the dead is unique and visually striking, but it seems to be limited to the use of passing arbitrarily administrated spiritual barriers, blasting demon bat thingies with an electric shield bubble, and slicing through large sheets of skin with a bone straight-razor.
And yes, a terse and limited story about shame, fear, death, and rage is continuously hampered by narration that tells more than it shows. Truly, the dialogue and voice acting try to keep pace with bigger games of the genre, but they never quite get there. It’s kind of a shame, because there’s lots of scary concepts and dark emotional undertones percolating just below the surface. Moments of sheer terror be damned, Resident Evil and other genre master series are capable of nailing gameplay AND story, so what’s the deal here?
The one thing that truly elevates the overall experience is the atmosphere, which is rich, dense, and undeniably disturbing. It’s hard to imagine The Medium pushes the powerful new Xbox hardware to its limits, but the launch release is plagued by framerate issues and other graphical kinks, so push the Xbox it must. Even so, dense forests and a haunted Polish resort hotel are handled with style in both the material and ghost realms. You’ll have a good time playing this game, especially if you’re a horror nut, but doubts will continue to linger as to whether or not you’ll remember it once you put it down.
Jeff’s Game Reviews gives The Medium a final score of SEVEN out of TEN.
Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!
Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!