MediEvil review (PS4)

The latest first party remake from Sony has arrived, and it’s a new version of the Playstation action adventure MediEvil. Here’s our take on the reimagined version, developed in Other Ocean’s Emeryville studio.

Out of all the reboots, remakes and remasters that we’ve seen on the PS4 (what started as a trend with God of War III and The Last of Us never really stopped, did it?), I have to admit I was probably the most skeptical about MediEvil. The original is a beloved niche classic, but it never spawned an enduring franchise like Ratchet & Clank did – nor was it as good as some of the other remastered games.

The original also didn’t age very well, with a wonky camera system and visuals and animations that show their age more than the Spyro games did. And speaking of which… the recent Spyro remaster featured all three of the original games in that series, whereas the sequel to MediEvil is nowhere to be seen.

And yet, I can’t help but enjoy the new MediEvil. Perhaps part of that is the impeccable timing of the new release, just before Halloween. MediEvil casts you back into the role of Sir Daniel Fortesque, a somewhat clumsy knight who didn’t have a celebrated career while living and who has now been brought back from the dead. On accident, of course, since the evil sorcerer Zarok never meant to bring back the would-be (however unlikely) hero.

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The gameplay of 2019’s MediEvil is similar to the 1998 original, though polished in many areas where it needed it. Sir Dan’s HD version looks a lot smoother than he used to, though he can still move awkwardly – but this time it feels like that’s intentional on account of his not being quite the natural hero you see in other games. More importantly, controlling the main character feels a lot better this time around, with tighter controls that give you the feeling you’re much more in control of the action.

This feeling is enhanced by an improved camera system, which no longer feels like it’s hard work just to get a good angle on the action. I rarely had to manually adjust the camera to see what I wanted to see, and in most of those cases that only happened because I was curious or getting my bearings. Most of the time, the camera shifts to dynamically offer you the best view possible, and it does a good job at that.

Visually, MediEvil has received a giant boost, though it’s more noticeable in some areas than in others. For example, when traversing a maze or narrow corridor, things still look relatively flat around you. MediEvil’s new visuals shine most bright in more open expanses, where you can see more detail and longer viewing distances. The game supports 4K resolutions on a PS4 Pro with a 4K television as well – this, too, is a feature best enjoyed in scenes where there’s a lot going on.

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The vocals have been re-recorded for the game, with the same actor returning for the role of Sir Dan. There’s also a new narrator for the game, which adds a great deal of storytelling charm into the mix. Backed by a soundtrack that was recorded by a full orchestra, this elevates an otherwise fairly standard 5 to 6 hour action adventure campaign to something that managed to stick out from the crowd.

Of course, a lot of charm in MediEvil comes from its thematic setup, and with Halloween just around the corner there’s no better time to release a game like this. With all of its skeletons, gargoyles and zombies, this is probably this year’s most appropriate bit of videogaming entertainment for Halloween unless you’re looking to go full horror and start up the Resident Evil 2 remake instead. Although not appropriate for young children, MediEvil’s relatively family-friendly entertainment for the upcoming holiday.

That doesn’t change the fact that, underneath the new layer of polish, MediEvil still isn’t a classic in the sense that The Last of Us or the Uncharted games are. It’s a solid game that’s fun to play and has been upgraded to present day standards, but besides the unique theme it’s fairly formulaic and by the numbers. Well worth getting if you enjoyed the original or action adventures/platformers in general.

Score: 7.4/10

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