REVIEW – And after almost twenty years … he rose again! MediEvil comes to PS4 with all the values that made it great in 1998. On the one hand, its playability, with a difficulty reminiscent of that of yesteryear. On the other, its artistic value, with a full reconstruction for visual and sound effects. We tell you in our MediEvil analysis why it is a faithful remake of the license fans.
At the risk of falling into one of the tritest comparisons of recent times, I would like to highlight something I saw recently on the official PlayStation blog: “One of MediEvil’s big surprises is how it looks like Dark Souls, despite the years that separate them. ” Surprising? Well, the case is that I think that argument is not completely misguided. It was a difficult game and, most importantly, today it is still a very complicated video game to overcome.
It is one of the playable attributes that developers have wanted to keep in a remake that is made to be true to the original. No difficulty selector or any help that makes it more accessible. The hack’nslash so challenging that you discovered in 1998 on your PlayStation is back on an adventure that could be short (not much more than six hours), but that will take you out of your boxes on more than one occasion … and it’s something that in a way it comes to surprise me.
Without going any further, in a recent article we compared it to the classic Ghost and Goblins, based on repeating the play over and over again, learning where each trap and enemy was. The original MediEvil was also a bit like that, and it still is in the remake, now with adjustments in the control, the camera and especially in the visual and sound. The things that are changed are important, but especially those that are maintained in a work of reconstruction rather than improvement. And that’s where the crux of the matter is: should the developers of Other Ocean have better adapted the game to the time we are in?
Medievil, a resurrected classic
When we talk about difficulty, it is impossible to agree. There will always be a sector that defends a major challenge, but also others that prefer greater accessibility. To avoid going around the bush, be clear that the authors of this remake for PS4 have opted for the original playable approach, the classic one. In other words: don’t expect any contemplation. The game is difficult, and if you are not a persistent player, it is probably not the kind of experience you are looking for.
MediEvil is based on measuring your forces well. The first levels were easy for me to overcome, but as I went on, I resorted to strategies such as taking advantage of life sources or using the shield load to avoid confrontations I knew I couldn’t win. In addition, the enemy offensives are doing more and more damage, your weapons can be broken at any time and the final bosses are made so that you release the odd thing against the screen.
Not like other action games
You should also take into consideration that MediEvil is not an action game like the others. This is not exclusively about dropping left and right strokes without stopping, but there are some exploration and the occasional puzzle. Some of their environments are labyrinthine and then there are others in which enemies do not stop chasing you. In general, the levels are small and last a few minutes … but you will have to go back again and again over them, learning your keys if you do not want your life bar to run out too soon.
There is little more to say about the playable scheme because it is quite simple. There are several levels on a world map that sometimes raises the possibility of completing one phase before another. However, the progress is very linear. It is not bad. The game is like that, without more. What I miss is that the adjustment in terms of control had been polished, since there were few occasions when I lost my life because of its low accuracy. With respect to the camera, despite being improved with respect to that of 1998, I played bad passes. It is true that it can be handled freely, but also that it can be erratic.
In favour of the video game, it should be noted that they are not aspects that break the experience, but that they do demonstrate that the focus of the developers of Other Ocean was not precisely a reconstruction in terms of gameplay. Instead, they have focused on the audiovisual facet, brilliantly rebuilt with respect to the PlayStation classic. The developer herself does not hide it. The “making of” videos included in the deluxe edition talk about art direction and musical composition, but nothing about the gameplay work.
Tim Burton overdrive
The artistic definition of MediEvil is clear: it reminds a lot of Tim Burton, and more specifically the movie Nightmare before Christmas. It is a video game whose launch window fits with the few days left until Halloween. After all, we handle the remains of Sir Daniel Fortesque, there are enemy pumpkins, gravestones, zombies and ultimately all that in which people disguise themselves during that special day. It is not terror, however, but a rather humorous vision of the old world of Gallowmere, full of beings from beyond the grave, castles and much magic.
The PlayStation MediEvil already had all this, so now there was only a good face wash. This has consisted of retaking the original designs and using them as a basis to rebuild them. Where there used to be an average of 100 polygons per design, there are now thousands. Where before there was one texture per item, now we have a few. The result is environments and characters with a much higher degree of detail. Also in a matter of fidelity, when using the original sketches as the main reference.
I would like to make it clear because not everything is as simple as taking the original modelling and passing them through a magic machine. You have to do them from scratch, and also maintaining the original essence. That is why making a remake can be more complicated: you have to maintain fidelity, and ensure that the changes do not tarnish the experience. That has been the work of Other Ocean: rebuild it as much as possible but preventing fans from feeling that MediEvil has lost his identity.
I sincerely believe that they have achieved it, also with regard to the sound and musical level. The themes have been recomposed by the same original authors (Andrew Barnabas and Paul Arnold), who this time have had an orchestra and choirs. They themselves mention that they have incorporated electric sounds from the PlayStation stage – as a tribute – but if we have to look for a definition for the result, it is fair to talk about a complete reconstruction for musical purposes, with new arrangements and scores.
And that is the word that best defines the MediEvil remake: reconstruction. But an audiovisual reconstruction more than playable. I have the doubt if it would have been correct to have made the gameplay more accessible. Twenty years have passed and many things have changed, from user expectations to gaming habits. There is more competition, the games are made differently … There will always be opinions in favour of one side or the other, but this was the vision of the developers and was to play as little as possible. Therefore, I understand that it is more a game aimed at nostalgics than those who did not try it in their day, but in the end, you will all decide.
The remake of MediEvil for PS4 can be defined as a faithful reconstruction work at all levels, from the gameplay to the audiovisual section. As such, it is a game that will be little accessible in the current era, but that you will find the pleasure of the purists, nostalgic and more faithful followers. Graphically it is like seeing the original with new lenses, while in music it has been completely reformed. A good job by Other Ocean, which meets its goal: to resurrect a PlayStation classic.
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+ A reconstruction absolutely faithful to the original, in every way
+ Retains all the humour and originality of the PlayStation classic
+ A powerful graphic and sound remaster
– Its playability feels somewhat outdated, despite the changes
– The control and the camera can become quite rebellious
– Irregular finish, especially technically
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release date: October 25, 2019