The first videogame I played to completion was MediEvil on the original PlayStation. It was a defining moment when the credits scrolled and I had triumphed over the evils of Gallowmere.
So when PlayStation announced that it was revamping the game for a new generation my excitement was palpable and I was itching to get my hands on the game again.
So how does this remastered relic of the past hold up in 2019?
Rise again Sir Daniel
Despite this being a remaster, developer Other Ocean Emeryville has improved a lot about this game but strangely, retained the more frustrating elements as well.
Let’s start with the good. There is enough heart from the original game to tug hard on those nostalgia strings and bring a wide smile to your face.
The cutscenes are much better than they were back in 1998 – as you would expect – but more than that, the audio is spectacular.
This should come as no surprise as the original cast have reprised their roles and a full orchestra has re-recorded the score.
The job is expertly done and while the graphics are good the aural experience does a lot to make the game very enjoyable
Sir Daniel Fortesque is raised from the dead to earn his status as a hero by defending the town of Gallowmere against the forces of evil and Zarok, the big bad.
On your journey you will encounter a variety of enemies and puzzles, but it’s the platforming, and relics from the 90s that will have you pulling your hair out.
There are boss fights, swarms of enemies and secrets scattered throughout the world. We haven’t felt the need to consult a walkthrough in a long time but MediEvil’s lure of completing every level 100% is really making us want to get one.
The graphics are pristine and the backdrops you encounter are so creepy I often wonder how I was allowed to play this game at age 11.
Sadly, while the graphics, score and voice acting have been improved, the gameplay has a number of cobwebs.
While the camera system has been improved in some ways it is only a marginal improvement on the original game. As an example, early in the game you are required to clear shards of glass that block your path.
Your weapon’s range is minimal so it requires getting up close. Get too close however, and you take damage. Because of the awkward positioning of the camera you end up walking into the glass and taking damage.
There is a Dan Cam which gives you a third-person view of the game but there are levels where this is disabled (such as the example above) and it just serves to frustrate
While this seems like an instance of “git gud”, this tricky camera and the way Daniel reacts to movement, make for a masterclass in frustration.
Saying Daniel handles like he’s on ice is a bridge too far but there are moments when it feels like that is what the developer was trying to achieve. There is one especially precarious level where you are required to jump between bridges to make your way across a body of water.
I now recognise this level as the reason I break out in a cold sweat when I hear the words “jumping puzzle”.
In my youth this puzzle took me two weeks of hour long play sessions to complete and I’m sure I spent that time here again.
Combat feels okay but it lacks the refined feel that many modern games have. More often than not I have found myself blindly flailing through enemies hoping to off them only to be struck down because my attacks hadn’t connected with anything.
There are ranged weapons but ammunition for these is limited and that means eventually you’ll be diving into the fray with a sword or club.
Melee weapons allow for more powerful charged attacks but these take so long to execute I’m often taking damage instead of doing damage.
Punishment from the 90s
Something I had forgotten about MediEvil was that it didn’t feature checkpoints or the ability to save when you want to.
This meant that every level was a case of do or die. Finish it in one run or die and go back to the start and try all over again. That feature has not changed and combined with the terrible combat and Fortesque’s performance of Gaming on Ice when you so much as move him, it feels incredibly punishing.
Yes, we know that games like Dark Souls punish you for dying but in MediEvil the punishment feels out of whack with the rest of the game.
The punishment is made more severe by the fact that the game encourages, nay, demands you complete each level 100 percent. The Chalice requires you fill it up with souls in order to unlock new weapons in the Hall of Heroes. Die half way through and you need to collect all the souls again which means you’ll be on the edge of your seat most of the time.
And make no mistake, you NEED better weapons in this game and as such you NEED to complete every level with at least a full Chalice or you are going to have a hard time progressing.
Buy now? Wait for a sale?
All in all, MediEvil is nostalgia fuel and it works for the most part. The Tim Burton-esque artstyle is wonderful to behold and the music is expertly crafted throughout the game.
The voice acting is also suitably kitsch in parts and that at least brings a smile to your face.
Unfortunately MediEvil is also a punishing game that really needs checkpoints and an update to its controls. A 100 percent free-moving camera would also go a long way to ease frustrations.
For those on the fence about whether to play MediEvil or not I say – do it, but perhaps wait for a sale.
This is not a game you’re going to spend hours upon hours playing but it makes for a fun escape from the world and to remind you that even at their hardest, the games of today really are super easy.
MediEvil was reviewed on PlayStation 4. Review code was provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.