Geek Review: MediEvil

While certain games have stood the test of time, and can even get updated for a new modern generation of players, it is likely that most titles fall through the cracks. For one of Sony’s more popular mascots, Sir Daniel Fortesque of the MediEvil series, his return definitely comes packed with charm and nostalgia, only to be soured by dated mechanics for action-platformers that should have stayed in the grave in Other Ocean‘s modern rendition.

As the dead knight resurrected to face the threat of the sorcerer Zarok and his monstrous hordes once more, the humour of the 1998 classic remains true to the original. Revered as the original hero who stopped the sorcerer in the history books, the truth points towards Sir Dan as the first to perish in the battle, and his eagerness to make up for his folly shines through.

The remaster certainly does him justice, with the signature visual design of his one-eyed, gnarling teeth face adding to his already substantial charisma. Sadly, that does not extend to his eternal rival, with Zarok pretty much looking like a melted piece of plastic. At least the enemies are fun to look at, often complementing their surrounding environments as you destroy them.

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Combat is simple enough as a hack-and-slash affair but immediately feels insipid. MediEvil makes Sir Dan extremely weak at the start, with one of his two attacks too slow and heavy to be of any use. The starting sections of the game will mostly consist of players trying to avoid damage and mashing the attack button in the hopes of making it out alive. 

It is nothing complicated, and can be off-putting when compared to the more challenging combat found in many modern games. The lack of precision and constant button-mashing are stark reminders that MediEvil still has one foot stuck in the past.

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Thankfully, this will improve as Sir Dan begins learning new abilities as well as obtain more powerful weapons to help in his quest. By eliminating enough enemies on a level, a hidden chalice will get filled up and revealed, allowing entry into the Hall of Heroes. It is here where characters from Sir Dan’s past will present new weapons. While it is optional to do this, the design of the game pretty much makes this an integral step.

Of course, combat is but one part of the MediEvil experience. Puzzles and platforming are also part of the formula, with each level in the land of Gallowmere presenting its own take on things. The levels look fantastic and unique, each with their own twist on a Halloween-like theme, giving players plenty to marvel at and be spooked by.

Fetch quests remain the de facto method of progressing in MediEvil, and while having more opportunities to explore the maps and smashing everything in sight can be fun, the antagonistic camera definitely detracts from your enjoyment of the game.

Although the camera works fine in an open area, functioning like any third-person camera with easy control, it switches to a fixed view when in an enclosed area, often without warning. Clumsy implementation aside, it also renders movement into tank controls, which only worsens movement in combat and especially so for puzzles and platforming sections.

And if you happen to perish, you will be booted back to the beginning of the level. There are no checkpoints, and considering how janky the camera and movement are, the frustration builds fast. Worse still is the inclusion of instant death by water, made worse by some bad level geometry that would make players wish Sir Dan remained dead.

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As if that was not enough, MediEvil makes Sir Dan’s health carry over from level to level. If you happen to mess up sufficiently, you may find yourself with little health to move forward in the game. Yes, you can backtrack and try to recover as much health as possible, but it is an unnecessary grind that when combined with the game’s other issues, sour the experience.

Depending on its nostalgic charm can only go so far, MediEvil still has way too many skeletons in its closet. For every aspect that makes us recall fondly of the charm and humour that made the game a classic, there is another that unflatteringly reveals it as a dated product that perhaps should have never been brought back in the first place.

MediEvil is now available for the PS4.

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A classic brought back from the dead with too much baggage from the past, there is little room for MediEvil’s dated design.

  • Gameplay - 6/10
  • Story - 6/10
  • Presentation - 4/10
  • Value - 5/10
User Review
5 (1 vote)

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