Developer: Other Ocean Emeryville & Sony Worldwide Studios
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release: 25th October 2019
With the number of weird gems scattered through the ages, the trend to remake some of them grew ever more present the past few years. Naturally, it was only a matter of time until one of the niche first-party titles around a certain skeleton got its turn too.
Unlike other games of its generation, MediEvil actually starts with the legend of brave Sir Daniel Fortesque having slain the grand evil sorcerer Zarok and has long since passed. Unfortunately, Zarok is back and with him a legion of walking undead. Naturally, the dead Sir Fortesque luckily got revived as well, so this time he has to stop this evil once again… if he actually had stopped it before. However, he merely fell in the first attack, shot by an arrow and stigmatized by a tale warped through time and mouth. So destiny grants him a second chance at proving himself.
Unsurprisingly, most of the plot is contained within the first minutes of starting the game, after which MediEvil doesn’t bother much with it. Instead, the true strength, even nowadays, lies in its gameplay and of course, striking aesthetic.
On the one hand we have the combat system, consisting of your usual hack’n slash system that feels like it could have been ripped straight out of a modern title, albeit a mediocre one. Starting out with a quite weak sword, MediEvil throws a constant stream of new weapons towards the player, as well as shields, all with their “unique” special attack and potentially hidden abilities. While their power in particular only grows satisfying towards the middle of the game, the sheer variety and choice still works today and provides an interesting, fun system.
The other part, naturally, are the puzzles and collecting of objects. To progress through each level, MediEvil relies on you collecting so-called rune stones, basically keys to unlock doors. Obviously, since every level is built around this concept, the level design, in particular, can grow quite mundane and never tries to innovate the design; a downside of mostly leaving a 20 years old game untouched. The thing that kinda carries each level, besides another point I’ll point out later, are the surprisingly nice puzzles, as they provide some more challenging box pushing problems and alike. It’s rarely necessary to just fetch items to solve a puzzle, which is surprising considering their presence in the rest of the game.
Last but not least, it’s obviously time to praise MediEvil as much as a 20 years old game deserves simply because it still offers a style that seems fresh, creative and fun even nowadays. From the character designs to the world itself, everything vibrates this unique kind of Halloween flair. Every new area offers its unique, great visual design dominated by oversized environments and objects, like the truly enchanting giant pumpkin area. It’s to this day a look I haven’t seen in any other game, especially with this visual fidelity. Speaking of visual fidelity, naturally the remake went all out with recreating MediEvil and as a result, the game looks like it could have been released this year for the first time. Naturally, the complete rebuilding allowed the already great lighting effects to truly shine, making it all the more atmospheric.
MediEvil may not be a unique twist on anything nowadays, at least gameplay-wise, but still manages to feel like a solid action-adventure. Combined with the still amazing visual design and atmosphere though, I can hardly see myself not enjoying the game. Only the design choices of the past world like the lack of mid-level checkpoints or more interesting puzzles make it less exciting than it should be.
[A Review Code was provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment]