It seems like it’s not just platforming mascots that get to enjoy a fresh lick of paint in modern remakes these days, with Sony deciding to bring Sir Dan Fortesque back from the grave (again) for a new adventure. Who is Sir Dan, I hear you ask? Well, he’s only the hero of MediEvil – the Tim Burton-eque platforming-adventure that released on the PlayStation back in 1998 that has just had a remake on the PlayStation 4.
MediEvil takes place in the year 1286, with a villainous sorcerer named Zarok bringing devastation to the land of Gallowmere with his undead army. Luckily, the super heroic knight Sir Dan Fortesque managed to take his army down and bring peace… or so people think. Turns out he was actually killed immediately in battle by an arrow. Typical, right? This lack of heroism meant he couldn’t ascend to the ‘Hall of Heroes’ in death, but with Zarok reviving his army (and a now skeletal Sir Dan) a hundred-years later, he finally has the chance to take him down for real and truly earn the right to be considered Gallowmere’s saviour.
If it wasn’t obvious, MediEvil’s tale is a charming and humorous one that doesn’t take itself seriously – what do you expect with an unlikely hero like Sir Dan, though? With plenty of NPCs to meet along the way (that aren’t afraid to poke fun of our hero) and a quirky and genuinely funny script, the kooky adventure’s narrative will certainly keep players entertained throughout.
This remake of MediEvil hasn’t tried to re-invent itself, but rather takes the original formula and makes it more fluid and pretty. There are some improvements, such as better combat controls and an improved camera, but for the most part it’ll feel the same. That also means some things weren’t fixed from the original though, such as the platforming that can feel a little clumsy when you need precision. Fortunately, there are a lot more positives to be found that negatives and it’s certainly a well-performing game.
The basic gameplay cycles sees you working through a series of horror-like levels, all whilst jumping your way across tricky platforming sections and taking out some baddies. Combat itself is straightforward and you can tell it has come straight from a 90s game, though that’s not to say it’s not sharp – sure, it can be simple and most standard enemies go down without much fuss, but it still feels fun to bash them up. Whilst you begin your adventure with just a sword, as you progress and collect Chalices you get access to more creative weapons including the likes of a spear, club, a flaming longbow, and even throwable chicken drumsticks, each of which gives you a new approach to combat to spice things up.
Collecting Chalices isn’t easy, mind – not only do you have to kill a specific amount of enemies for them to become available, but then you’ve got to scour through each level looking for them too. They’re definitely worth collecting though and encourage the player to not only beat up as many baddies as they can but also take the time to explore each level in depth.
It’s worth mentioning that the bosses of the game are a bit more creative and can prove to be testing encounters. It’s here where combat really shines and you need to be a bit more strategic, with a mixture of ranged and melee weapons the most practical way to take some of them out. They also look the part too, with bizarre creatures like the Stained Glass Demon, Pumpkin King and Ant Queen looking better than ever and making for some impressive showdowns.
The visuals are pretty across the board in MediEvil, with characters like Sir Dan and Zarok looking better than ever. Naturally, they’ve seen some minor changes from their original PlayStation counterparts to make up for the extra detail on offer with modern consoles, but everything looks great and fits the vibe of the 1998 release perfectly. The environments you traverse across look impressive too, with their Tim Burton-esque appearance making them feel like locales you’d see in the likes of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’m a fan of creepiness, especially when it takes a light-hearted approach, so traversing these environments and admiring their sights was pleasant throughout.
MediEvil initially felt like a peculiar choice of game for Sony to remake, but after seeing it through to its conclusion it was clearly a stroke of genius – it offers a platforming-adventure exclusive unlike anything else Sony has on the platform that still manages to feel fun despite bearing all of the same gameplay hallmarks it had in the 90s. It’s got a genuinely charming tale too, whilst the modern lick of paint has certainly given it a pretty finishing touch.
There are some flaws to be found though and it’s far from perfect, but MediEvil is undoubtedly fun, quirky, and creative in design. Whether you were a fan of Sir Dan Fortesque’s escapades during its initial release or it’s your first time experiencing the skeletal Knight’s tale, MediEvil is an enjoyable adventure that’s worth being a part of.
Developer: Other Ocean Emeryville
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation 4