MediEvil on PlayStation 4
The late 90s are officially vintage as of 2019 and the video game remakes of the era keep coming. Not that I’m complaining as I’ve recently got to enjoy excellent remasters of some of my favorite childhood games such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. MediEvil is as right a choice as any for the remake treatment, and fans of the classic game should be extremely pleased with the fruits of Other Ocean Emeryville and Sony’s labor.
Although the comparisons are going to be made, MediEvil PS4 was not produced/developed by any of the same teams that did the Crash or Spyro reboots, since those were handled by Activision’s in-house teams. Fortunately, though, despite being wholly unrelated, MediEvil PS4 manages to hit the same high standards set by those games.
What is going to stand out, of course, are the improved visuals and sounds. MediEvil retains its spooky but cartoonish aesthetic that is reminiscent of other similar-feeling dark fantasy worlds of its time such as The Nightmare Before Christmas or the animated Beetlejuice series.
It’s a lovely, colorful and eerie coat of paint that brings the game up to modern expectations for a PS4 title.
The game’s soundtrack was fantastic back in 1998 but has been elevated to a new level with the remake. Combined with the improved visuals, fans of the original will feel right at home but will also still find themselves impressed with what Other Ocean Emeryville has done with the place.
Especially with the improved background visuals and camera angles, MediEvil’s gameplay holds up fairly well in 2019, which is fortunate since the gameplay is left largely intact.
MediEvil is fairly unique in that it mixes hack and slash combat with a heavy dose of puzzles and problem-solving.
Even without Other Ocean Emeryville adding much in the way new content and staying focused on the quality of the remaster, there’s an overwhelming amount of varying level designs, enemy types, and useful items that you’ll need in combat and for puzzles.
Every level is a puzzle board that the player needs to organize all the pieces for. You’ll need to track down every locked door and their associated rune, every secret area, and also know which weapon types can help you get past certain enemies and puzzles.
In addition, if you want to collect all of the game’s secrets you’ll need to 100% every level which is done by killing enough enemies, and collecting each Chalice of Soul. As the game progresses, this becomes increasingly difficult as more enemies and/or the Chalices themselves are tucked away behind harder to solve/find puzzles.
For example, in the level The Sleeping Village, you’re tasked with trying to survive attacks from possessed town’s people. In order to 100% this level you not only need to solve all the puzzles so you can kill every enemy you come across, but you need to avoid killing any townspeople or you’ll lose progress and ultimately be unable to obtain the Chalice.
Hacking away with a sword is great for clearing out packs of weak enemies, but for some tougher enemies you’re better off dodging and then hitting them over the head with a charged up hammer strike. Or maybe you just want to run around and shoot crossbow arrows from a distance. While there are plenty of actual puzzles, even combat sometimes is an open-ended puzzle too.
The story of MediEvil is left the same and the game retains the charming voice acting of the original and also its dark humor. Poor Sir Daniel Fortesque is still the butt of many jokes, and although you’re laughing at him a lot of the time, you of course root for the gooftball (just look at him) to come through and become the hero he was destined to be.
New to the game is the Book of Gallowmere which is a bestiary of all the game’s heroes and enemies. Considering how rich and entertaining the world of MediEvil is, this is a nice touch for hardcore fans.
MediEvil PS4 isn’t without flaws though. Most of the issues with the game are ones that existed back in 1998 and are still a problem now.
Don’t get me wrong; the camera is a lot better, but it’s still not wholly unproblematic or perfect. It’s still sometimes hard to see hidden doors, pathways and other places that you need to go because of the way the angles are set up in certain areas.
Also digging around the menu anytime you need something other than your primary and secondary weapon gets a bit taxing after a while. This is especially true when you consider how much enemy variety there is and if you’re playing the game to not die constantly, you need to make sure you’re using the right weapons at any given time.
Related is the fact that there’s still a lot of cheap hits and enemies. It’s hard to avoid hits sometimes and this will frustrate some players. Other times enemies or environmental hazards will pop up suddenly and lead to cheap damage or even deaths.
These issues were annoying in 1998 and they are still annoying now. It will be tolerable to old-school players that grew up with the game or just enjoy classic games, but newer players accustomed to easier titles may get frustrated with MediEvil PS4 as the game ramps up in difficulty later on.
There’s also just some straight-up punishing levels even early on like Scarecrow Fields which will come as a shock to anyone that didn’t grow up with more difficult games in the 80s and 90s. I did, and I still got my skull stomped a few times before I remembered what I needed to do to not get sliced up in a corner by a bunch of invincible scarecrows.
All in all MediEvil PS4 is a solid, well-made remake that is a Halloween treat for longtime fans thanks to its remarkably improved sounds and visuals. Other Ocean Emeryville also does a nice job of ironing out some old kinks for modern audiences while leaving the gameplay mostly intact. Most of the time, this is for the better, but sometimes it’s for the worse.
Score: 4/5 – Great
- A beautiful remaster with remixed sounds and visuals that seamlessly transport the 1998 PS1 game to 2019.
- Classic gameplay left intact with a few subtle, but critical improvements.
- Still lots of cheap-feeling deaths and hits.
- Digging around menus can be cumbersome.
Yes if you enjoy classic action games from the 90s and want to experience one of the best and most revered freshened up with a beautiful coat of new paint.
Other Ocean Emeryville
October 25, 2019