MediEvil was a staple on the original PlayStation in my neighbourhood. For whatever reason, the group of kids I knew all spent a lot of time playing the series, sharing discs between each other and talking about every game during those after school meetups. I only have experience with the original MediEvil, which at the time was heavily marketed in gaming magazines (remember those?). Now, 20 years on
Welcome to Gallowmere (again)
In 2017 at PSX, Shawn Layton was on the stage where he revealed that MediEvil was coming to PlayStation 4 as a remake of the original, unlike the 2005 re-imagining. Similar to both the recent Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon remakes, you’re getting a high-quality remake of classic video games. Developer Other Ocean Emeryville has faithfully remade MediEvil with wonderful visuals, and a world that while dark, isn’t taken too seriously.
This is a game firmly stuck in the past, and if you can’t get over that, then this may not be the game for you. In fact, at times, I found myself wondering if this is a game for me, but because of the amount of charm and setting, I knew I wanted to see it to the end and play through MediEvil. If anything, this reminds me of Nintendo’s Link’s Awakening remake, as it is a 1:1 remake with a few extras thrown in. The more I played, the more I was reminded of how much fun the original was, and the fresh coat of paint is good.
Playing as the recently revived Sir Daniel Fortesque, who didn’t bravely defeat the sorcerer Zarok, but died on the battlefield. This left Sir Daniel unable to ascend to the Hall of Heroes the first time, so with his second chance, he’ll have to try once attempt to stop Zarok. A spell cast over Gallowmere plunges the world into darkness and leaves an army of undead roaming the world, so be on the lookout for enemies, they won’t let you rest.
The gameplay is more or less the same as the original, you still get the satisfying sword-swinging and mix of ranged attacks. Using a sword, you hack and slash at enemies or press O for a spinning slash that is also chargeable by holding down the button. A press of Triangle allows you to switch between other weapons like throwing knives or the crossbow for example, and while those are consumables, are as fun as using the sword and shield.
Hall of Heroes
A lot of elements of the original are here, for one, you move around an overhead map and select your next location, it’s all very old school but I do enjoy it. Levels are contained and each level includes several puzzles that you’ll need to solve to move on. In some cases, it’s mentally-challenging and in others, not so much. The fun remains though, as each level includes secrets, you’ll want to discover that offer rewards to those who seek them. In each level, you’ll find a chalice that is earned by defeating enemies. Other things like keys, collectibles and so on are hidden throughout each level and you’ll need to explore nooks and crannies to find them. Each chalice earned is another weapon unlocked within the Hall of Heroes, as presenting one to each hero unlocks powerful weapons for Sir Dan.
Each boss then isn’t what you expect from today’s standard of encounters. Instead, you’ll have to find the weak point and wreak havoc on it. During some encounters, I ended up spamming throwing knives which killed the boss within a minute. In other instances, I ended up taking on a boss that would mop the floor with me because of the archaic mechanics like no checkpoints, I’d begin the level again and have to repeat everything leading up to the encounter.
A big concern of the original MediEvil was the camera being unable to keep up with the gameplay. Thankfully this isn’t the case and instead has been retooled to follow in a natural way that improves the flow of traversal and gameplay. Also, with the press of L2, you shift into what is called Dan Cam, which moves the camera behind Sir Dan, reminiscent last year’s God of War in that sense. Aiming ranged weapons at enemies becomes much easier because of this, but it’s a nice improvement over the original. However, when it comes to certain puzzles, the camera still runs into issues.
MediEvil is a commendable remake of an iconic PlayStation classic. If you missed out on the original or weren’t old enough to play it, this is a great opportunity to see how games were designed 20 years ago. Sir Dan and his quest for redemption is full of humour and doesn’t take itself too seriously, and never overstays its welcome. The biggest frustrations lie with the lack of checkpoints, and the faults of MediEvil lie within the original game, not the remake itself. For the price of admission, this is worth checking out.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]