The late ‘90s were an interesting time for gaming and an extremely important point for Sony. With 3D games just getting their start, a lot of companies wanted to do things that were not previously possible, resulting in a lot of rough titles. A lot of these titles were forgotten, mostly due to how poorly they aged, though some of PlayStation’s early catalog is still talked about. Given this is when Sony was trying to ultimately establish their brand, we got a lot of fascinating adventures like Parappa the Rapper and Twisted Metal. Among them was MediEvil, or that game where the skeleton knight from PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale came from, a quirky tale that really personifies a lot of the things that defined that time. With a legendary hero, his trusty sword and almost too much charm, is MediEvil a remake that allows newcomers a chance to relive this classic or is it still rough around the edges? Here’s our MediEvil Remake Review.
MediEvil is centered on Sir Daniel Fortesque, a legendary knight that stood against Zarok, an evil sorcerer, who attempted to take over the kingdom of Gallowmere. 100 years after his defeat, Zarok reappears plunging the kingdom into eternal night and bringing the dead back to life. Unfortunately, due to a lack of foresight, Zarok brings Sir Daniel Fortesque back to life. With his beloved kingdom in trouble, he sets of to defeat Zarok for good and bring peace to his land.
Given this is a remake of a game on the original PlayStation, there isn’t a whole lot in terms of story. Every place or element builds part of the larger picture, though don’t expect a whole lot of depth to Sir Daniel, Zarok or even the kingdom of Gallowmere. At most, side characters add some quirks or silliness to the adventure, also giving Sir Daniel enough characterization to see he is rather impatient. Thankfully, it’s enough to work with but not enough to sell the adventure itself, something that became part of the PlayStation brand in the following generation. Still, what made MediEvil interesting wasn’t the story as much as the gameplay.
Initially Sir Daniel is armed with his, well, arm and is fully capable of smacking foes with it. As your adventure continues, Sir Daniel gains additional weapons, including a sword, crossbow, club and more. These weapons are used rather creatively, at least at the time, to open up new paths or unlock secrets. One such example is the club breaking spikes on the floor or throwing knifes being used to cheese some of the difficulty. This allows you to change things up, though it only goes so far.
If there is one problem with the remake of MediEvil, it’s that it tries too hard to retain the original feel. Despite being a legendary knight, Sir Daniel swings his sword with enough finesse to mimic how I’d likely fight with a sword. Not only is combat a bit too loose, the average fight has no weight to it. Enemies just take hits until they eventually remember that they’re dead. This juggernaut quality is what makes some of the sections feel rather cheap.
The intended, at least the time, way to play is to sparingly use your sword and shield, with throwing knifes and other things used at range. If used correctly, most encounters are pretty easy, but this is a pretty big if. Just going down the tunnel when returning to the graveyard or honestly when you meet the charging zombies the first time, it’s incredibly easy to take damage and ultimately lose. Often times it feels less like your fault and some incredibly cheap mechanic. Sure, most of this is due to the age, something that would’ve been nice to see the remake better address, but there is enough raw content to get through it.
Where the PlayStation 4 version of MediEvil fails in gameplay, it makes up for in graphics. Similar to the previously released Crash and Spyro games, it received a massive overhaul in design. Levels that were previously a bland world with multiple different colored splotches and maybe a statue are transformed into lovely settings with grass, spooky miss, charming elements and more. It’s enough to make the adventure attractive to newcomers, assuming they can accept the dated mechanics.
MediEvil Remake Review – Verdict
In the end, MediEvil is a rather rough remake. In terms of graphics and style, it does a fantastic job of bringing the kingdom of Gallowmere to modern times. It’s just everything else that is stuck in the past. With a fairly bland story and dated and extremely rough gameplay, you’re left with an adventure that is only going to appeal to long standing fans or anyone fascinated with PlayStations past. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, it’s honestly really hard to change everything, yet keep it largely the same but it is a bit underwhelming to see. Sure, it’s still playable and at times fun, it just doesn’t have the polish you’d expect.
[Editor’s Note: MediEvil was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]