MediEvil is a repeat of Dan Fortesque's original adventure on the PlayStation, which comes with all of the limitations of the era that spawned it.
MediEvil is a remake of a game from 1998 that has updated the visuals in order to bring them in line with other PlayStation 4 titles but has done little to improve upon the issues of the original. MediEvil stars an undead knight named Sir Daniel Fortesque, who was heralded as the hero of the kingdom of Gallowmere. The legends surrounding Dan state that he defeated the evil sorcerer Zarok and his undead army during a great battle. The truth however, is that Dan died at the start of the battle and the king decided to cover-up the nature of his demise.
Zarok returns after hiding for a century and casts a spell that plunges Gallowmere into darkness. The power of Zarok's magic causes the dead to rise, including Dan, who is given a second chance of entering the Hall of Heroes in the afterlife by using his new undead state to defeat Zarok and his army once and for all.
MediEvil is a third-person action-adventure game that pits Dan against hordes of Zarok's supernatural servants. Dan starts out with only his own disembodied arm as a weapon, but soon gets his hands on a sword, a shield, and a set of throwing knives that he can use to strike foes from afar. Dan must go out into the world and fight monsters and overcome obstacles across different levels. The problem with the game is that MediEvil is too similar to the original, as it has abysmal controls and a brutal lack of a checkpoint system.
MediEvil is a combat game at heart, yet the controls for Dan are so imprecise that battles turn into little more than randomly hitting buttons. Dan slides around as if he is always skating on ice, which becomes a major problem when turning to attack enemies who have surrounded him. One of the new features in the game allows the player to put the camera directly behind Dan, but this offers little in the way of help during battle, as Dan can only lock-on to ranged opponents and is left wildly flailing his weapons when engaging enemies in melee combat. The slippery controls also make the jumping sections a chore, due to how easily Dan can slide off a platform.
The biggest issue with MediEvil though is the lack of any kind of checkpoint system. The player is expected to complete a level in a single attempt, so dying against a boss means repeating an entire stage. It's possible to find items called Life Bottles which make things easier by providing extra lives that refill the health bar if Dan dies or falls into a pit, but these are few and far between. The enemies hit harder over the course of the game and are quicker to surround Dan, which limits how much the player can rely on the Life Bottles.
The lack of a checkpoint system might be forgivable in a game that was glitch-free, but this doesn't apply to MediEvil. There were several times during our playthrough when a run through a level was ruined by a glitch, such as getting trapped in an area surrounded by instant death zones in the Scarecrow Fields stage due to an enemy pushing us through an invisible boundary. MediEvil isn't a long game compared to similar titles, but its lifespan is artificially extended by the need to repeat levels.
MediEvil improves sound and visuals over the original game in a big way and its soundtrack is like something out of a Tim Burton movie, perfectly matching the humorous and Gothic tone of the story. The game manages to capture the cartoonish nature of the original game's visuals and the character designs in MediEvil are still as charming now as they were back in '98.
MediEvil will provide a nostalgia rush to fans of the original game, but there isn't much else to offer anyone else. The remake of The Legend of Zelda: Links's Awakening did something similar, but the critics loved Link's Awakening due to its core gameplay still holding up. The poor controls and lack of a checkpoint system have resulted in a game that is often more frustrating and fun. The remake of MediEvil could have vastly improved upon the flaws of the original, but the need to stick so closely to an antiquated gameplay style has led to a title that feels just as displaced from time as Dan himself.
MediEvil is available for the PlayStation 4 on October 25, 2019. A digital copy of the game was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.