Review – MediEvil

The weird thing about the MediEvil franchise is that I have always wanted to play them, but I never had the opportunity to do so back in the day. I was a Nintendo 64 kid who cherished 3D platformers and goofy cartoony characters. MediEvil was one of the few PS1 exclusives that I really wanted to tackle, as I thought it would have fit right at home on Nintendo’s console. It took me more than two decades to finally play the original game, now remade on the PS4, and I can safely say that, well, it wasn’t worth the wait.

MediEvil_20191120221505

He’s not a very menacing-looking villain…

MediEvil‘s PS4 remake can be best be described as a visual and audio revamp of the original, with most of the gameplay and controls being left intact. The level design is the same, the combat is the same, the puzzle solving is the same. I find that as equally a blessing and a curse. As I mentioned on my previous Shenmue III review, I appreciate when developers try to make a game feel as retro as possible, but they should always pay attention to the evolution of gaming and implement the necessary improvements to framerates, controls, gameplay, and so on. This is where MediEvil falls short.

I have never played MediEvil before now, but it’s easy to notice right from the get-go that this remake feels like a simple visual revamp to an otherwise clunky hack n’ slash/platformer hybrid hindered by hardware limitations from the PS1 era. It’s a game that suffers from a shallow combat system (as in, mash the square button and you’ll win everything), a collision detection system that is as random as a game of Russian Roulette, and camera controls that will bring back traumatic memories from 3D gaming in the late 90’s. A game released in 2019 should not have bad camera controls, as we’ve learned how to deal with that nearly fifteen years ago.

MediEvil_20191122164937

Adding a behind-the-shoulder camera option doesn’t help at all when you can’t use it in narrow corridors and fixed-camera levels.

The main improvement over the original MediEvil is the boost in graphical fidelity. This MediEvil remake does its best to look like a playable Tim Burton animated feature. Its art style and character design won me over pretty quickly, with the protagonist, Daniel Fortesque, being the game’s highlight. He’s the perfect balance of hilariously well-designed, brave, dumb, clumsy, impatient, and determined. While the graphics are adorable, they’re not exactly detailed. MediEvil could have easily been released on the PS3 and nobody would have been amazed by its visuals. It also boasts a really unreliable framerate, which is strange, given how non-demanding the game looks.

As for the gameplay itself… it’s just okay. Nothing you haven’t seen a million times before either this generation or in generations before it, like in Knack or the many Lego games out there. Choose a level, solve some simple puzzles, jump occasionally, collect treasure,  kill lots of enemies, and occasionally fight a boss. If you kill enough monsters in a level, you’ll be granted with a chalice that will prove your worth as a hero, thus making deceased heroes of the past give you new weapons and items for you to use. You can also eventually unlock the original MediEvil game as a playable bonus, which will only make you notice even more how little the developers have revamped the gameplay or fixed the non-visual flaws from the original.

MediEvil_20191122124721

Yo, can you play In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida?

MediEvil is a nice change of pace from other serious Sony exclusives, but it felt like a budget title in which little effort had been put in its development. With a bad framerate, shallow combat, and an unforgivably bad camera, this is a game that brings back not only the good things about gaming from the PS1 era, but also all the shortcomings from that period. If you’re a fan of the series, or if you’re desperately craving a game that looks like a Tim Burton animated movie, then grab MediEvil. But just wait for a discount. A budget game deserves to be bought at a budget price.

 

Graphics: 7.0

Luckily, the game has a fantastic Tim Burton-esque art style, because the graphics themselves, as well as the framerate, are far from impressive. The cutscenes are pretty good, though.

Gameplay: 5.5

Very simplistic gameplay, with a few combat options, a nearly useless jump button, and faulty collision detection. The simplicity of the controls isn’t that much of an issue. The abysmal camera control is, however.

Sound: 7.0

The soundtrack is what you would expect from a cartoonish game with monsters and zombies. It gets the job done. The same applies for the voice acting. Some of it is good. Some of it is absolutely dreadful.

Fun Factor: 6.0

The MediEvil remake is nothing more than a brand new coat of paint on top of an otherwise average title that has aged poorly. It’s easy, it’s simplistic, and it’s enjoyable in short bursts, but it’s also very flawed and forgettable.

Final Verdict: 6.0

MediEvil is available now on PS4.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of MediEvil was provided by the publisher.