MediEvil Review: Sir Dan is back from the dead and better than ever
PlayStation's cult classic MediEvil has finally been graced with a second coming, in the form of a complete remake on the PlayStation 4 – some 14 years after the series' last outing on PSP.
It's all fair and well bringing this classic into the modern era, but has this creepy caper managed to retain everything that made the original so lovable?
On the face of things, MediEvil is a fairly typical hack 'n' slash adventure game, featuring platforming and puzzle segments.
Once you look beyond primary game mechanics, however, MediEvil becomes a wonderful delve into the tale of the redemption of one of gaming's most grotesque and goofy wannabe heroes, Sir Daniel Fortesque – a man who, even with no jaw and just one singular eye, takes his place as one of gaming's most charming characters.
Sir Dan represents the underachiever in us all – a hero who has been accidentally dubbed as the saviour of his homeland, the kingdom of Gallowmere.
While history might have misremembered Sir Dan's life achievements, it's only once he's brought back to save the land once again that he must finally prove his worth.
Sir Dan originally met his maker during a battle against the game's protagonist, a sorcerer named Zarok, by being the first to fall in battle.
Now, after spending 100 years decomposing, Sir Dan has been dragged back from the dead, along with a legion of ghouls, ghosts and goblins that he must fight to stop Zarok once and for all.
The main crux of MediEvil's gameplay involves traversing the necropolis that is now Gallowmere, walloping various forms of the undead as you make your way towards Zarok's castle.
Each level has two main goals: escape the level without being murdered and kill enough enemies to collect each level's Chalice of Souls.
These fancy cups don't just provide a reason to stick around each level, but they also grant access to 'The Hall of Heroes', the residing place of various deceased warriors.
At the cost of a Chalice and some passive-aggressive insults, Sir Dan can obtain various types of weaponry from each warrior.
From flaming longbows to boomerang axes, it's worth grabbing each Chalice, especially since they're usually not hard to find.
Narratively, collecting every Chalice will also allow Sir Dan to join his comrades at the Hall of Heroes, which if nothing else, will put a nice big smile on Dan's jawless face.
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MediEvil might appear to be a linear game at first glance, yet the in-game map provides a degree of choice when it comes to what level Sir Dan can be chucked into next.
When paired with hidden secrets and objectives, things become much more like a Metroidvania game (especially if you put the time into collecting every Chalice)
If obtaining items and unlocking secrets isn't your bag, then there's always the option of heading straight for Zarok, although this comes with the caveat of fewer weapons and the lack of a true end to Sir Dan's quest.
Remastering MediEvil might seem like an easy feat, but developer Other Ocean has a delicate task at hand. Maintaining the charm of MediEvil is crucial to replicating the experience of the original while enhancing things with new technology.
Thankfully, Other Ocean has unearthed everything great about the series, without compromising its core elements.
Like many other remasters out there, MediEvil features a complete recreation of its source materials assets, yet maintains an identical structure and narrative. Despite this, even well-versed fans will feel like this game is entirely new, even if it is just a trick of the eye.
The visual aesthetic of MediEvil has always been gorgeously gothic, even if it was held back by the limitations of early 3D graphics and janky FMV cutscenes.
It's impossible not to see the resemblance between MediEvil and the works of Tim Burton, with a heavy emphasis on traditional spooky tropes.
Similarities aside, MediEvil manages to carve its own style out of the Burton creative blueprint, building itself based on its unique British humour and subtle gags.
With this remake, Other Ocean has not only given things a lick of 4K paint but have converted the 32-bit art style into the horror wonderland we imagined it to be back in the '90s.
MediEvil's original level geometry may have been used as a template but Other Ocean has lovingly injected every inch of it with detail. Tiny details such as moving grass and falling leaves give a much-needed kiss of life to the Gallowmere we all know and love.
In addition to the game's inanimate aspects, each friend, foe and freak within Gallowmere has been reimagined, providing us with a more accurate representation of each character.
Matched with the original game's stellar voice acting, the residents of Gallowmere feel more alive than ever, with some characters looking drastically different than their technically limited predecessors.
While these visual changes are certainly subjective, it's fair to say that Other Ocean has considered each character carefully, ensuring to maintain the essence of who they are.
Fans of MediEvil will be pleased to know that the game's original soundtrack has been translated into a fully orchestrated score by original composers Andrew Barnabas and Paul Arnold.
This iconic duo has covered a lot of ground when it comes to video game soundtracks, with a resume that includes the likes of Sega Rally.
In keeping with the rest of MediEvil, the soundtrack is heavily inspired by the work of Danny Elfman, which as well as being gorgeously haunting, accompanies the game's Tim Burton aesthetic perfectly.
Verdict : MediEvil – 5/5
(Reviewed on PS4)
Other Ocean's reimagining of MediEvil is a respectful recreation of a unique classic. While some might think that the developers have gone down the safe route of a carbon copy recreation, it's clear that a lot of work that has gone into retaining MediEvil's original charm.
The result? A gorgeous display of creative affection for a series limited by its original console confinement.
Hopefully, this remake will cement the franchise back into Sony's recurring lineup, preventing it from being buried in its generational grave once again.
– Gorgeously implemented remaster
– Old mechanics modernised expertly
– Some mechanics haven't aged as well as others
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