Of all the original PlayStation games to get a remaster I was surprised that MediEvil was chosen. It was one of those games from my childhood that felt like I was the only person who played it but simultaneously also had a very strong cult following. Upon hearing about Sony’s decision to resurrect Sir Daniel Fortesque I promptly downloaded the game on my PlayStation 3 purely for nostalgia’s sake but I was surprised to find it actually held up well. More importantly, while playing MediEvil, I released it definitely shaped some of my favorite games that came after it such as FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series. Having just viewed the trailer for MediEvil’s remake I am confident that MediEvil (2019) will fill that dark fantasy void; a feeling that many fans of the Dark Souls series can relate to. Dark Souls almost feels like if MediEvil had grown up alongside us and into the twenty-first century.
The world of MediEvil has a similar mood to the Dark Souls games; everything is dead and decrepit and the world seems to be just waiting around for its inevitable end. The denizens of the world are reduced to hollow-like states as the dead relentlessly roam the countryside. From the onset, the game begins much like Dark Souls with a continuous follow shot traveling through the graveyard before landing on Sir Daniel Fortesque in his crypt. The protagonists in these games are both brought back from the dead followed by cutscenes depicting the series of events that shaped their respective worlds. In MediEvil the battle against Zarok and in Dark Souls Gwyn’s war against the ancient dragons.
Before the Ghost Ship level in MediEvil there is even a cutscene where a massive bird sweeps Sir Daniel Fortesque up off the ground and carries him to another area (much like the sequence following the Undead Asylum connecting the player-character to Lordran). In both games there is a sense that you and only handful of creatures are merely existing to wander the realm until its demise; all the movers and shakers have long since died and you are left traversing the desiccated remains trying to piece together everything that hasn’t been completely lost in the annals of history.
Not only is the setting highly reminiscent of Hidetaka Miyazaki’s games but the themes conveyed as well as the level design fits right in with the iconic worlds found in Demons’ Souls (Boletaria) and Dark Souls (Lordran). Each level in MediEvil was incredibly distinct and dripping with atmosphere. The game had a world warping system that allowed it to display a rich variety of environments ranging from dilapidated ruins and mystical, invested forests to haunted scarecrow fields. The economy of both MediEvil and the Soulsborne games revolve around souls and can be traded for weapon and item upgrades. Similarly to Demons’ Souls, there is a hub world that you will frequent as you progress through the game. In the Hall of Heroes, you receive new items and weapons as well as upgrades much like in The Nexus.
An assortment of weapons allows the player to cater to whatever play-style they wish (very reminiscent of the Soulsborne games). There are a number of stunning boss fights full of imagination and variety; ingenious boss fights that didn’t only rely on brute force but also some thinking too. My personal favorites being the Ant Queen and Guardians of the Graveyard, both incorporating creative gameplay elements to defeat. But even just listen to the game’s soundtrack, pieces like The Ant Caves would fit right in with fighting a massive, celestial insect in Bloodborne.
Both games excellently incorporate imagery from both the horror and medieval fantasy genres providing them with a definite mood. The Tim Burton-esque art style of MediEvil offers a goofier alternative to the grittiness of Dark Souls but the game’s remake offers radically updated visuals as seen in the trailer that recently dropped. We can definitely see MediEvil’s remake as a continuation of Bloodborne’s beautiful, decaying gothic aesthetic. The game wasn’t exactly easy either but it was more so unforgiving than brutally difficult. Like in Dark Souls good luck trying to jump in MediEvil; you’ll just end up frustrated and losing a lot of health potions and souls. It is kind of funny and sad to see how jump mechanics in action RPGs are still quite shit. Let’s hope Medievil’s remake will attempt to fix this as well as the glaring camera issues that are prevalent in both the original and which is still a problematic factor in most third-person action games.
The twisted world of MediEvil – Gallowmere, is simultaneously wondrous and hostile, and there are many pitfalls and traps that hinder the player’s progression throughout the in-game world. MediEvil provides plenty of examples of backtracking as special objects need to be found such as ruins and level-specific items that lock away certain parts of the map.
The level – Cemetery Hill features a slope with continuous boulders that impede Sir Daniel Fortesque’s ascension to the top ala Sen’s Fortress. Also, MediEvil is quite gory, especially if you possess the great hammer; you can mangle bodies and there’s nothing more satisfying than charging a heavy attack and crushing a zombie into a puddle of viscera with the Great Hammer. As you explore the world of MediEvil you learn about the lore and the various events that shaped its similarity to Dark Souls; by interacting with characters and the environment.
After seeing the new trailer for MediEvil’s remake I couldn’t be happier with how they built it “from the grave up”. Keeping the original game’s iconic art as well as updating the music will give the game the performance and polish it truly deserves. Hearing the game’s original music accompanying HD renderings of bosses such as the Stained Glass Demon and Lord Kardok will offer highly cinematic boss fights further filling that Souls shaped hole in our hearts. I know that many fans of MediEvil cite it almost as a precursor to their current obsession with the Soulsborne series. After getting a small preview of what is to come I cannot wait to return to Gallowmere. Let’s just hope MediEvil keeps its unique charm and humor while also maybe throwing in something new here and there for existing fans.