This title is exclusive to PlayStation 4, and reviewed as such (although it is a remaster of an existing PS1 game).
In the past few years, we’ve had numerous PlayStation gems returning to the limelight in one way or the other. We’ve had the re-imagining of Ratchet & Clank, the remasters of the first four Crash games, as well as the Spyro trilogy. One PlayStation classic though has been left buried for numerous years, with its most recent release being in 2005, and that is the adventures of Sir Daniel Fortesque, MediEvil. Now this is one of the few PlayStation classics I don’t actually own, but I do have fond memories of it, with one of my old childhood friends having it as a PS1 classic on his PS3 and PSP, with us racing on each device to see who could get the furthest. So, how does this unearthing of Dan’s old bones fare? Let’s get MediEvil.
With the fear of being Captain Obvious here, MediEvil is a huge step up visually from the original, which is to be expected considering we’re jumping from the PS1 to the PS4. The visuals are admittedly not as impressive as the Crash and Spyro remasters, but they’re still pretty damn good. Most importantly though, MediEvil keeps the charm of the original, unlike the PSP remake. The same creepy atmosphere is preserved perfectly, and everything is recognizable, it’s one of those cases where it looks as good as you remember the original looking in your childhood, perhaps even better.
The story is the exact same as the PS1 original, but if you need a refresher, here it is. 100 years prior to the game, the evil wizard Zarok was slain by the heroic Sir Dan Fortesque, although Dan would be mortally wounded while performing the killing blow. Except, that’s not how it happened at all. Instead, Dan did a Santino Marella in the 2009 Royal Rumble, and was actually the first to be killed (by a stray arrow to the eye no less) during the first charge. He gets a chance at redemption though as Zarok has risen again, and so Dan is resurrected to slay him. The story is a little simple, but it’s carried by its solid humor. While the legends tell of Dan’s heroic deeds, the Gargoyles and statues of heroes around the game know otherwise, and are constantly sarcastic and demeaning to Dan, and the dialogue between them is hilarious, with Dan’s Mr Bean-like mumbling being the icing on the cake.
Like the previous Crash and Spyro remasters, the gameplay here remains mostly unchanged, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As Dan, you must go through various open levels, slaying Zarok’s forces, solving puzzles, and getting to the end of each level till Zarok is defeated. Simple on the surface, MediEvil has plenty of tricks up its sleeves. For starters, the level design is top notch, with its open style leaving plenty of room for exploration, with hidden areas that are placed just right to give you satisfaction in finding it while not wanting to rip your hair out in frustration. The puzzles in each level are also great, such as having to climb up to an area to push boulders down onto a patch of water to cross (Dan’s skeletal form isn’t great for Buoyancy). Each level has plenty of things to find too, some of which necessary to find secrets or even complete levels. The most consistent collectible throughout the game is that of the Chalice, which every level has. Killing enemies fills the Chalice, and when you fill it and then eventually find it, you will be transported to the Hall of Heroes, in which you can talk to the animated statues of Dan’s fellow heroes, getting some of the solid banter, a new weapon, Life Bottles which act as your lives, or coins to purchase ammo for some of your weapons at the Gargoyle Merchant.
While the level design has aged quite well, some aspects of the game aren’t as timeless, in particular the combat. Combat lacks impact for the most part, especially the sword and ranged weapons. While the hammer and club have a satisfying heft to them, they still don’t feel as satisfying as they should when actually hitting an enemy. Despite that though, the combat is still serviceable in the long run, which is a testament to how solid the original game is considering its only a month younger than me (October 1998!!). Luckily the bosses are satisfying even with the dated combat, with the Graveyard Guardians in particular being great. There have been a few new additions, although they aren’t very useful. The Dan Cam is the main new addition, which allows you to get a more traditional over-the-shoulder perspective. It’s a new idea, but I found it a little useless. Theoretically it should be good for ranged weapons, but they have a consistent lock on anyway. The game’s solid challenge can also be increased if you played the demo and earned Dan’s helmet, which in a nice bit of cheeky design is cursed, making enemies way more deadly. If you got the deluxe edition too, you also get access to a snazzy bit of gold armor, which while not game-changing, looks really cool.
The game’s audio is just as solid as the presentation, keeping the original tone of the PS1 classic while just being downright awesome in its own right. The deluxe edition came with the soundtrack on a separate application, which just shows you how good it is. It feels like something out of a Tim Burton animated film, being both whimsical and creepy. Each level has a unique track that just oozes charm. The rest of the sound is also top-notch too, especially the voice acting, with Sir Dan and the various Heroes and Gargoyles he banters with sounding great.
MediEvil stands with Crash and Spyro as a perfect example of how a remaster should be done. Unlike the PSP remake, this PS4 remaster keeps the charm and style of the original, showing just how timeless the PS1 version was. The solid visuals, awesome Tim Burton-esque score, and brilliant level design still stand the test of time. While the combat is nowhere near as timeless as the rest of the game, it’s still serviceable, with great bosses and a variety of weapons. While the Dan Cam is a bit useless, it shows that some thought was actually put into this remaster. Overall, whether you’re a newcomer to the series or someone who has fond memories of the original, you’ll have a horrifyingly good time with Dan and his wacky adventure this October, and for its cheaper than normal price-point, you really can’t go wrong.