The '90s are cool again and games from then are being ported and remade like crazy so here's a remake of the Halloween classic MediEvil.
I remember renting MediEvil back when it first released after playing a demo for it and it was a pleasant surprise. Sure, it didn't hold a candle to many other games that released back in October '98 such as Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Brave Fencer Musashi, and Metal Gear Solid but it was a fun little game. Its goofy Halloween setting made my 13 year old self smile as I played through its twisted levels and Sir Daniel Fortesque made for quite a memorable protagonist with his scrawny skeleton body and mumbling dialogue. Thankfully, all of that has returned in this remake. In fact, this is one of the most faithful remakes that I've ever played. Keep in mind; that isn't necessarily a good thing because it also carries a lot of retro baggage with it that I'll discuss more in-depth later. However, I am very happy that the game world remains intact and it looks great on PS4. I wish it had HDR support as it could have looked even better but I digress.
For the unfamiliar, MediEvil has you control the legendary knight Sir Daniel Fortesque who's on a mission to stop the evil wizard Zarok's dastardly plans. The gameplay involves running and jumping around stages while utilizing an array of weaponry which initially only consists of Dan's own arm. As you progress, you'll acquire various swords, a club, a hammer, a crossbow, throwing knives, and even an enchanted sword that really packs a punch. Although there are some light puzzles thrown in, you'll spend the vast majority of the campaign hacking and slashing your way through a variety of enemies and bosses such as zombies, scarecrows (man, I hate those things), pumpkins, and a demon made of stained glass. The variety of level themes and enemy types is possibly MediEvil's strongest asset.
On the downside, this MediEvil remake feels much more like a reskin than a full-on remake. Although the gameplay has some mild tweaks and enhancements, it pretty much feels exactly the same as the PS1 original. That being said, I did notice 2 nifty enhancements. The first of which is that you can hold a shoulder button down to enter "Dan Cam" mode which allows you to play the game via an over-the-shoulder perspective. I didn't find it that useful and preferred the classic camera style but to each their own, I guess. Next, there's an encyclopedia called the Book of Gallowmere which features unlockable entries about all of the characters, enemies, and bosses in the game. I mean, it's a cool addition but it certainly doesn't add much to the overall experience.
Before playing this MediEvil remake, I figured that the combat would have been improved from the original since it was quite janky in the first game albeit in a fun way. However, what we get here is nothing short of disappointing as exchanging blows with enemies merely feels like you're watching your life meter drain while your enemies eventually fall. There's no substantial impact except for when you bash things with a club because that results in a cool effect even though the enemies don't seem to react much at all.
Okay, it's time to dive head-first into MediEvil's retro baggage. For starters, there is no map system which can be a huge pain in the ass, especially within confusing environments such as the Ant Caves. Plus, it's very easy to lose your sense of direction and I found myself accidentally heading backwards on multiple occasions. Next, continuing whenever you perish simply means that you have to start the whole level again. I didn't continue many times so there may be checkpoints in some levels but I definitely had to start a few entire stages all over again on a few occasions. Also, why doesn't your health restore when you complete a stage? I had to regularly return to the tutorial area in order to snag some energy vials between stages which just felt tedious and unnecessary.
With so many retro remakes that feel like fresh experiences in this day and age, it's disappointing how dated MediEvil is. With that being said, it's definitely faithful so if you're a diehard fan then I'm sure you'll appreciate its swanky new visuals.
- + Classic gameplay and world remain faithful to the original
- + Spot-on quirky Halloween atmosphere
- + Great variety of levels and enemies
- - Not much has improved aside from graphics and sound
- - Combat feels disconnected
- - Loads of old-school baggage