MediEvil 2019 Review
21 years ago I very distinctly remember enjoying passing my time as a youngster as the “Would be… or Could be” Hero, Sir Daniel “A.k.a Dan” Fortesque (This is the first time I am publicly making myself sound like an old Geezer). The news of a Remaster had me all giddy, playing the MediEvil: Short-Lived Demo at Comic Con Africa left me wanting more, but seriously though, does the final release “Collect all the Chalices” and make my childhood nostalgia whole again, or does it remain but a wisp of childish fun best left in my early years?
Even though we knew about the remake since 31 October 2018, the release of MediEvil was dedicated to Zarok’s (Main Antagonist) voice actor, Paul Darrow, who passed away on 3 June 2019. We were supplied with the “Digital Deluxe Edition” of the game, which includes the Golden Super Armor from MediEvil 2 (which only increases the coins that Dan collects), a dynamic theme for the PlayStation 4, a Digital Art Book, a Digital Graphic Novel prequel known as MediEvil: Fate’s Arrow and lastly the game’s Soundtrack. What we missed out on though, is the MediEvil: Short-Lived Demo, which was available until 6 October 2019, granting you an exclusive helmet that carried over to the full game. This helmet is based on the Japanese version of the original MediEvil, which not only makes Sir Dan wear a helmet by default, but it also increases the game’s difficulty level!
A Thousand Battles, A Thousand Victories
Originally launched in 1998 on the PlayStation 1 or PSX (much larger than the PlayStation Classic you now get that is pre-loaded with games), MediEvil is a typical Hack-and-Slash Action Adventure game presented in a 3D Third Person Perspective style. The story (inclusive of the Fate’s Arrow prequel) is a very short lived “comedy” that is tied to it’s inception roots, leaving very little room for modernization to allow it to slot into the Hall of Honor and sit on a shelf next to the most recent remasters Crash Bandicoot, Crash Team Racing and Spyro the Dragon.
You take on the role of Sir Daniel Fortesque, who leads an army against Zarok, an evil Wizard who commands an army of undead soldiers against the kingdom of Gallowmere. In what is supposed to be a heroic and epic scale battle, ends for Dan even before his sword strikes an enemy shield, as he takes an arrow through the head (which is why his character model only has one eye) from the first volley wave of arrows from the undead archers. According to legend, Zarok was ultimately defeated, yet returns many years later, only to repeat the cycle of warfare by reviving his undead army and turning all citizens of Gallowmere into undead zombies through a spell that also, revives Dan from the dead, to fight another day.
As you progress through the game, you “unlock” or transcribe a glossary of the creatures, bosses and characters you come into contact with in your “Book of Gallowmere”, and this is really where you need to go look when you battle with certain encounters, as it will detail a weakness or some tidbit of info that would aid you in not dying quite as much as I have been dying.
Know Thine Enemies
Having discussed the Book of Gallowmere, you will also very quickly learn what type of approach is required when it comes to certain enemies, whether it be ranged attacks with throwing knives, bow and arrow or close up with a club or enchanted broadsword (and if all of those have reached their durability limit, you can even beat zombies to death with your own dismembered skeletal arm for extra charm). You also find shields scattered though certain levels, and as briefly mentioned, durability is a real concern, as ammo is scarce for ranged weapons and melee weapons (especially your shield) suffer durability damage very quickly and break.
This is how and why the game gets quite frustrating, because you are so tempted to use your shield in each level against regular enemies, even though you know you need to save it for the boss encounters, that you end up taking risks and try timing your dodges to no avail, because a clunky camera has decided to get stuck behind a pillar, some random tree branches or just flip in the opposite direction to which you are moving! So it becomes a “mini game” of Russian Roulette in whether you should use your shield and then just flail your boss fights, or flail your levels and risk seeing the “You Died” screen.
The problem with seeing said screen is: Just like the original, they have not incorporated any quick-save points or check-points, so when you die, it is game over, and you need to replay the level from scratch, even if you were right by the end and defeated the boss of a level. It is not a case of just restarting from the beginning of the level, but all monsters and enemies have respawned, including the boss, leaving you quite triggered (I am speaking from experience). Whats even better, is that your health does not auto-replenish between each level, so if you ended a level with 10 life points, guess what… you start the next level with 10 life points. (Moving on before I get triggered again just at the thought of these shenanigans!)
Play With Caution. Collect All The Things!
Your “life meter” is measured by “life energy” which you can replenish by either finding life energy flasks or standing over life energy fissures, which are massive cracks in the ground that expel life energy. The flasks only replenish roughly 75 life points as where the fissures replenish around 300 life points.
Along with playing cautiously, you are however encouraged to eradicate all enemies, because in doing so, you fill up a “Champion Chalice” that once obtained, grants you access to the Hall of Heroes at the end of a level, which then grants you new weapons or skills by paying homage to your fallen fellow soldiers who were not revived by Zarok’s most recent spell.
Something that not everyone knows though, is that there is an added benefit to collecting every Chalice in the game and completing every level in entirety, because this ultimately unlocks the alternate ending (true ending) to the game. As an added bonus, you are able to complete optional missions that will ultimately unlock the original 1998 version of the game under “Bonus Features” for you to take a crack at, which is actually quite special for those that enjoyed loading up the original back in the good ‘ol days. Viva La Nostalgia!
Just in time for Halloween, MediEvil was released exclusively for PlayStation 4 consoles on 25 October 2019. Developed by Other Ocean Emeryville and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, quite an extensive amount of research went into the remake, and a lot of care was given to the audio and visuals, particularly because Executive Producer, Jeff Nachbauer, felt that they needed to only polish what existed without changing the core of the original, as not to bastardize the memory or legacy of the original. At the time of this review, you could pick up a physical copy of MediEvil from BT Games for only R465.00 or if you are an old school fan, you can purchase the Digital Deluxe Edition directly from the PlayStation Store for R629.00. In all fairness, MediEvil is a quaint little game, but does not really offer much for newcomers and is mainly aimed at the die-hards that experienced the original as part of their childhood, hence why I would only recommend it to those true fans that want to relive the “magic” and advise newcomers to save their hard earned money for the more elaborate titles that are dropping in this final quarter of 2019.