We’re still in the early days of the glorious month of Halloween, and many of us are slowly building up to the big day by looking back at horror favorites in all mediums. So it’s a timely moment to remember that twenty years ago, the dishonorable undead hero Sir Daniel Fortesque joined the PlayStation family and provided us with a spookily charming (and vastly underrated) video game hero in MediEvil.
MediEvil is the first in a hack n’ slash adventure series by the now sadly defunct SCEE Cambridge Studio who made other scary digital cuts such as Primal, Ghosthunter, and RIGS: Mechanized Combat League (Yes it counts because It’s scary how quickly I felt sick playing it. MediEvil was initially set to be a fairly straight-laced game before the game’s look created a need to lean on goofy, spooky humor. It was heavily inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas too, which is entirely obvious on first viewing, and likely a big part of why it gets remembered so fondly by those who did play it.
The plot is typically Burton-esque. Sir Dan is painted as the hero that struck down the evil wizard Zarok before succumbing to his own mortal wounds in a great battle many years ago. The truth is that Sir Dan was struck through the eye with the first arrow fired and not wanting his campion’s reputation tarnished, the King covers it up and spins the story to make Sir Dan a Legend.
Of course, one day, Zorak returns, reviving his undead army in another attempt at taking over the kingdom, but that also brings back the skeletal remains of Sir Daniel Fortesque. Redemption beckons for our hero and a chance to ascend to the fabled Hall of Heroes he wasn’t previously allowed into.
Sir Dan takes on Zorak’s evil horde with sword and shield generally, but he also uses his arm as a melee and ranged weapon (by ripping it off and throwing it at them), and the fighting is the right side of messy and awkward, very much in keeping with the style and backstory. Sir Dan can also collect other weapons such as crossbows and clubs by searching through the levels or collecting a Chalice of Souls to hand over to champions from the Hall of Heroes. If you manage to get the Chalices from all the levels, it unlocks the game’s true ending (a happy one for Sir Dan).
Naturally, as a polygonal 90’s title, MediEvil hasn’t aged particularly well, even though it still manages to hold its endearing kookiness. Sadly, even though the accidental undead hero got a few more adventures as the years went by, he’s not been seen since PS3 fighter PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
Then came a fitting reawakening after a lengthy slumber. Late last year at PlayStation Experience, a remake was confirmed to be in the works, and with Paris Games Week looming on the horizon (just before Halloween in fact!), we surely must see Sir Dan Fortesque in 4K glory before All Hallows Eve.