Compared to PlayStation classics such as Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, and Final Fantasy VII, MediEvil may not have quite the same pedigree, but fans of the quirky action game series have been longing for its return.
For those completely new to this ancient Sony franchise, MediEvil tells the story of one Sir Daniel Fortesque. Revered as one of Gallowere’s bravest, most cunning knights, he slays the evil sorcerer Zarok before suffering a fatal blow in that final battle.
None of this is true, however. The legends have been very kind to him, as he was actually the first to fall after taking an arrow to the eye. Now, with Zarok having returned a century later, Gallowmere’s fate is in the hands of its phony saviour.
MediEvil doesn’t boast much of a story and only has a handful of key characters, but there’s a humorous streak throughout. While some buy into Dan’s legacy, his long dead companions who now roam the Hall of Heroes are often quick with their verbal barbs.
This isn’t the first time Sir Dan has been exhumed by Sony, with MediEvil Resurrection being a launch title for the PlayStation Portable back in 2005. Although branded as a remake at the time, it took certain liberties unlike this newer, more faithful adaptation from developer Other Ocean Interactive.
So, what exactly has developer Other Oceans done here? With access to the original game’s source code, the studio has given MediEvil a much needed lick of paint without trying to completely rework how core elements such as combat, platforming, and puzzle solving work.
As a result, MediEvil can feel fairly basic on PlayStation 4. Boss battles aside, regular fighting is often scrappy and mindless whether slashing enemies up close or picking them off from afar. Navigating some stage layouts can also be a little finicky too though this is arguably in service of being faithful to the 1998 original.
Side by side there are some small yet noticeable improvements. For instance, a tiny wisp will help show which enemy you’re targeting, and the left trigger can be used to switch the camera to an over-the-shoulder perspective in some larger areas.
Playing through MediEvil after more than two decades since that first release, it’s easy to see why many fell in love with the game, even if MediEvil never became a tentpole franchise for Sony.
The patchwork of twisted landscapes full of demented creatures and zany contraptions always gave off a Tim Burton vibe. Level designs have some genuine variety too with more than a few brainteasers to wrap your head between bouts of ledge hopping and sword swinging. This is all infused with an unmistakable splash of British humour, poking fun at Sir Dan instead of predictably placing our hero on a pedestal.
The remake manages to lock in that same flavour and the soundtrack – which has also been completely recreated – is an incredible accompaniment. That said, this game is hardly pushing the PS4 to its limits. MediEvil’s character models and environments are pretty dull compared to today’s standards, though expecting this smaller Sony release to match the likes of God of War and Horizon in terms of visual fidelity is absolute bonkers. Not to mention completely unnecessary.