It’s been two long years since a full-blown remake of MediEvil was announced for the PS4. I had such fond memories of the original so to get to revisit the world of Gallowmere once again had me really excited. The trailers looked gorgeous and it was reasonably priced. But was it worth the wait or should it have stayed buried in the depths of Dan’s crypt?
MediEvil was one of those games I played obsessively when I was younger. I had completed it countless times but still kept going back for more. I can’t quite put my finger on why though. In the years that I played this game, I was also heavily playing things like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Tomb Raider, and Dino Crisis. Hack and slash style games with elements of platforming weren’t really my thing. So why was I so drawn to MediEvil?
I think that more than anything it was a really charming game. I mean, it was frustrating as hell but it was still fun. The characters felt really great (at the time) and honestly quite unique. There was such a variety in worlds from graveyards, to asylums, to pumpkin patches, and even anthills. I think that’s what made it so fun: every level was different from the previous and you never knew where you would end up next. I’m not going to pretend that it was a perfect game as it really wasn’t. It had many frustrating features in it. But now with a sparkly new remake surely it would mean that those negatives had gone? Right?
I don’t want to hate this remake, I really don’t. I probably don’t hate it, I’m just struggling to see the point in its existence other than it being a nostalgic cash grab. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. It truly is beautiful, but I can’t help but feel massively let down. I’ll start with the positives though.
There really is denying how gorgeous this remake is. The charm has definitely not been lost as each level oozes personality. I often found myself just stopping what I was doing and looking at the smaller details within the levels. When I was younger my favourite level was the scarecrow fields so I was so eager to get back there. I’m not entirely sure why I was obsessed with that level and scarecrows in general (I think it was something to do with the Goosebumps book The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight). It didn’t disappoint.
It now looks absolutely stunning and even creepier than I remember. The cornfields now looked scary, you knew you had to stay away from whatever lurked in them at all costs. You can see the grins on the scarecrow’s faces as they move to attack you. Even the flames from nearby torches and burning windmill sails cast an eerie light on the environment. It was spookier but hadn’t lost that fun, comic style. Other locations such as the labyrinth of the Asylum Grounds, The Ghost Ship, and the Hilltop Mausoleum are all so beautiful.
You can genuinely see how much care and love has gone into recreating these locations while still being true to their original appearances and designs. Every detail really is perfect and I’m glad nothing was changed in this respect.
The new sound design is also perfect. It feels so much like the original yet it still feels completely new. Every now and again a certain piece of music would come on during a level and I would be instantly transported back to my childhood. I could honestly see myself sat there was a 13-year-old boy sat right in front of my TV set playing this game. The aspects of the new sounds that I probably noticed the most were the enemy sound effects. Whether it was the grunts and groans of the Mad Farmers or the squeals of Mrs Mad in the Sleeping Town, or even the usually quiet squeaks from nearby bats. It all added to a more heightened sense of fun.
Trophies weren’t a thing in the days of PS1 but now they exist to encourage you to get the most out of your game. I know a lot of people don’t care for them but me… I’m a sucker for them. I try to platinum every game I play before I move on to the next one. I very rarely go back to a game once I’ve got the platinum trophy as I feel there’s nothing left for me to do with it. MediEvil was already a challenge but now with trophies to get too it felt like I should have my work cut out… should have.
I had a glance through the trophies before I started the game as I knew there was nothing to be spoilt plot-wise. I knew the story inside out already. The trophies were basic at best to be totally honest. Defeating various bosses, using so many health vials, collecting weapons, getting kills in various ways, etc. The usual stuff you see with trophies. I’m not sure what I was expecting from trophies but I just wanted something more, more of a challenge.
One of the trophies was for collecting the secret chalices and heading to the Hall of Heroes after every level in the game. The place for the real heroes who would slowly reward you with better weapons and items after you had proven your worth. I must admit that there were some heroes that I had forgotten about like Ravenhooves the Archer and Imanzi Shongama. But as soon as I saw them those nostalgic memories came flooding back.
The further I got into the game and the more nostalgia I felt I began to realize that this was all this remake was offering me. It looked brand new, but thats as far as it went.
This was when I realized that all I was playing was a game I used to love as a kid but with beautiful new graphics. There was nothing more to it. It was still frustrating and still had all of the negative things it originally had. I kind of feel that if you’re going to go to all this trouble of remaking a great game, why wouldn’t you fix the things that were already broken?
The camera is one of the main things that I remember being the biggest nightmare about the game. Yet the exact same awful camera is here in this big remake. During the build-up to its release, we learned of a completely new feature called “Dan Cam”. In its announcement trailer, we were shown a new over the shoulder camera system making it easier to see looming enemies or hidden items. It looked like our camera nightmares had been solved. But it just doesn’t work sadly. Largely because Dan Cam can only actually be used in certain locations. Its trailer gave the impression that it was something that could be used throughout the whole game. Yet 90% of the time I tried to use it I was just presented with an icon on the bottom of the screen telling me the Dan Cam couldn’t be used.
The same old camera system that we do get it just horrendous. We were used to dodgy camera angles on games 20 years ago but they’re a thing of the past now. If you’re going to remake a game from the ground up why not improve the awful camera system once and for all? Make the game more enjoyable. So many times the camera has completely shifted perspective on its own causing me to fall to my death, miss an important item or not see a nearby enemy that’s butchered me. It’s easy to get butchered too, trust me.
The combat system is something that’s very unforgiving in this game. In most enemy encounters I found myself just running around in circles and bashing the attack button while hoping for the best. Despite having a block feature with various shields it’s something that feels so hit and miss. More often than not enemies are too lucky and can take away huge chunks of your health bar just with a lucky hit, despite the fact you try to block or aren’t even that close to them. I know this makes the game more challenging but in all honesty, it just comes across as really messy. There were fights that I ended up losing around 5 lives in because of a swarm of enemies that become impossible to block due to being surrounded.
Another new feature is something called the Lost Souls. Sounds like it could be exciting right? Wrong. It’s basically a cheap way of getting you to replay the game again. As you get to one of the final levels you’ll come across a chest which you can open. This releases souls throughout the world with one going to each level in the game. This means you need to replay every level to retrieve these lost souls. But it doesn’t end there.
Each soul gives you a mini-quest to do somewhere on another level. This means that you’ll have to replay a lot of the levels for a third time. I mean, why? It feels like such a cheap way to encourage you to replay the game. I think it’s largely down to the fact that if this wasn’t added there would be zero replayability factor at all. But it doesn’t even add much replay at all. Once you’ve finished a level it becomes all too easy to speedrun through them all to collect the souls and complete their quests. There’s no challenge in it at all. This could have been a really great place to add in some time trials or even new boss encounters, maybe ones from the original designs that didn’t make it into the game.
It’s not without its glitches either and I’ve encountered rather a few. The action command to read various books scattered throughout the world doesn’t always work. Despite pressing triangle and Daniel getting into position in front of the book… nothing happens. I find myself having to bash triangle while walking around the book to make him read it. The Imps that reside in the mausoleum and caves will often steal your weapons which you have to retrieve by killing them. Quite a few times my weapon has become stuck in the environment making it impossible to pick up. I’ve had to restart the entire level and hope it doesn’t happen again. Enemies have disappeared into walls or suddenly off the map meaning there aren’t enough of them to kill so I can’t pick up the secret chalice.
It’s like they kept in the existing frustrations of the game and added in even more of them.
Looking back I let my nostalgia take over which made me rush out to buy this game straight away. I feel like I should have just dusted off my PS1, dug out my original copy of the game and played that. This very much feels like a glorified port. Everything that was wrong with the original is still there. The new features are either broken or add virtually nothing exciting to the game. I know that this is a remake of an old game, but it feels extremely outdated now. The opportunities to remove the negatives and replace them were just completely wasted. I can’t help but ask why you would remake something and not fix it? I’d feel less cheated if they’d just offered us a remastered port of the original, which is what this version might as well be. It doesn’t feel like a remake.
Some things should stay buried in the past. Buried in a part of our mind that sometimes lets us remember the fun we once had playing certain games at a certain point in life. Nostalgia can sometimes be a wonderful thing… but it can also result in an unnecessary dent in our wallets.