Medievil (PS4): My Two Cents
Updated: Nov 8, 2019
Since 2014, we have seen some of the PS1's most beloved icons return to the current generation of consoles. Abe, Spyro and Crash Bandicoot have all seen their classic adventures remade with almost universal acclaim from both critics and fans alike.
Now in 2019 we see the return of my personal favourite of the PS1 icons, Sir Daniel Fortesque. Medievil for the PS4 was released in late October and was met with a mixed reception. Praise was there for staying faithful to the original game, but some felt that it hasn't done enough to improve upon issues the original had, with some still complaining about the camera and controls. It's reception has still been mostly positive from the fans however. Before I give my thoughts on the PS4 remake, let's first recap on the plot.
100 years after the battle of Gallowmere, an evil sorcerer called Zarok returns to the land to bring it into eternal darkness, possessing it's people and awakening the dead in the process. Unfortunately for Zarok this includes our protagonist, Sir Daniel Fortesque, a falsely proclaimed hero who legend said to have defeated Zarok at the battle of Gallowmere. In reality he was the first to be struck down by an arrow volley from Zarok's army. Awakened from the dead, Sir Dan now has the chance to live up to the legend and defeat Zarok, once and for all.
A very simple concept in which Dan will fight a pretty wide variety of enemies along the way, including zombies, evil farmers, pumpkins, scarecrows, shadow demons and even skeleton pirates. For it's time and even in 2019, Medievil has a really impressive roster of enemies, and what I've mentioned is only scratching the surface. Them along with the design for each level is keeping in line with the original creators' inspirations, most notably The Nightmare Before Christmas. The levels themselves are very well designed and while I feel the grittiness of the world has been slightly decreased because of the brightness of some areas, they still maintain what made them iconic and memorable in the first place. This is a game that is chock-ful of character and it's difficult to lose investment because of that.
The music has also been given new life, with Paul Arnold and Andrew Barnabas returning to compose the soundtrack, creating new tracks and reworking classics. This time they are assisted by the Prague Symphony Orchestra and I have to say that the soundtrack is just wonderful. The classic tracks are much more dynamic, and are used effectively during the game. Favourites of mine, like the Scarecrow Fields are either bombastic or in the case of Cemetery Hill, making the music sound much more gothic. The new music is also pretty good and fits in with the classics.
The last thing I will mention in regards to the presentation is the voice acting, most of which remains has remained unchanged. Co-creator Jason Wilson returns to reprise the dialogue for Fortesque, donning a bucket over his head and mumbling like a man with no jaw should. Narration is now done by voice actress, Lani Minella who does a good job with providing the game's opening dialogue and the hint books scattered throughout the game. Apart from these changes, the remake has recycled all the in-game chatter from the original, including voice lines from the late Paul Darrow, which fans will know for voicing Zarok, as well as other characters. My personal favourite being Jack of the Green.
With all that said, what is the Medievil remake like to play? In all honesty, there isn't all that much to distinguish the gameplay in the remake to the original. The gameplay itself remains mostly unchanged with some simple quality of life improvements. Compared to the tight and responsive controls of Spyro or Crash, Medievil's feel loose and is something that newcomers to the series may have a tricky time with adjusting to. The camera still has it's moments of dickishness, but it has been improved for the most part. It is much easier to control and very rarely will it cause unintentional frustation. Thankfully though, a new feature called 'Dan Cam' is in place, allowing players to get a closer view of their surroundings, which for levels like Ghost Ship and The Lake comes in really handy.
Other new features in the remake include the quick swapping function from Medievil 2, which is self-explanatory. Allowing players to quickly swap between two weapons, which helps to improve the pacing in the game. Sounds stupid I know, but if you played the original, you'll know how often you'd be visiting the inventory, just to switch from one to weapon to another. Thanks to this mechanic you wont need to do that as often.
Boss fights have also seen an update too, with some now having multiple phases, something the original creators wanted but were not able to do so at the time. This makes some bosses much more enjoyable to fight than before. Bosses like the Pirate Captain and Lord Kardok are much more challenging now and bosses like the Pumpkin King don't feel mundane to fight. This makes the final battle in the game feel less underwhelming, now that Lord Kardok and Zarok unleash new attacks the more health you take off them.
Speaking of challenge, Medievil for the PS4 is a tad bit more difficult than the original game. The size of hitboxes has been reduced and certain enemies hit harder than they did before. Once again it is up to the player to make use of all the tools at their disposal to traverse through the levels. The first half of the game is still extremely easy, but that may be due to my experience with the original (your experience may vary). Combat remains simplistic with Dan having a basic attack and charged attack. as well as the daring dash and specialised weapons like lightning bolts and chicken drumsticks. This simplicity is fine for me, but it may seem repetitive to others.
Despite that concern, this remake was just as fun and addicting to play as the original game. Medievil for the PS4 isn't perfect, but it is a solid remake through and through. It captures what made the original game so beloved and offers enough improvements and additions to not seem pointless. One of these include a lost souls side-quest that you can unlock at the end of the game. I can fully understand why it received mixed reviews upon launch, but if you can overlook certain issues that it has, you're in for a good time with Medievil and I hope that it does well enough for Sir Dan to give us a new adventure in the future.