I played a lot of games as a kid and one of my absolute favorites would be MediEvil for the original PlayStation. The game came out back in 1998 and has you playing as the raised skeletal corpse of Sir Daniel Fortesque. This game combines dark fantasy and humorous dialogue to create a very unique experience. It's time to raise this old title from the dead and discuss what makes it so enjoyable.
Unique Setting and Characters
The game begins by telling you the story of Sir Daniel Fortesque. How he was an amazing knight who led the King's army against an evil sorcerer backed by an undead horde. Although the story says Fortesque destroyed the evil sorcerer Zarok, it is quickly revealed that our would-be-savior actually was the first to die at the 'Battle of Gallowmere'. The evil sorcerer has returned to Gallowmere a hundred years later and is raising the dead to form a new army. Unknowingly Zarok has also brought Dan Fortesque back from the dead. Our deceased hero is being given a second chance to live up to his own name and truly defeat the evil sorcerer and save Gallowmere.
Sir Daniel Fortesque is a very interesting character. He has a bit of a goofy smirk, is missing an eye, and is not so proud he won't tear off his own arm and use it as a weapon. Little touches really go far to constantly remind us that Dan is not one of the living. For one our deceased hero's head bops up and down when ever he walks. Secondly when ever Dan uses his powerful sword spin attack, his whole upper torso revolves 360 degrees like no living person with a normal spine can muster. This brave corpse also lacks a bottom jaw and is barely comprehensible when he speaks. All of this combines together to make an incredibly unique character.
This deceased hero stumbles across witty gargoyles, joyful witches, and tons of strange spirits along his journey. In the 'Hall of Heroes' Fortesque meets many heroes from the past. All of these heroes know this walking skeleton and several chide him because of the fake story that calls Dan a hero. The voice acting for most of these heroes is great and brimming with personality. British style humor is found in the bulk of the dialogue and fits with MediEvil's world exceptionally well. All the taunting and name calling at Fortesque's expense only motivates him to prove them all wrong.
Variety In Gameplay
I've already written an article on variety in games so if you've read that before then you know what I'm about to get into. To start off I'd like to talk about the levels in MediEvil. A lot of games differentiate their levels by using different themes, but this title goes a bit further then that. Back when 3D games were new it was a common practice to use level builders and thus produce blocky looking worlds. MediEvil, on the other hand, is comprised of levels with strange Gothic adornments, plenty of curvature, and multiple paths that sets it apart from others. Each level is filled with a good number of secret avenues filled with prizes to tempt players into keeping a critical eye on the environment.
The amount of weapons Dan Fortesque possesses is nothing to shake a severed arm at. This walking skeleton has an array of swords, bows, clubs, and magic at his disposal. With so many enemies trying to return Fortesque to his death bed it's nice to have so many weapons to choose from. Some enemies will require you to shield their attacks and time shots from a distance. Other enemies may be normally invulnerable and require a certain trick with a weapon to be defeated. Out of all the weapons Daniel uses I think my favorite would have to be the axe. The axe pays homage to Ghouls 'n Ghosts, which inspired the developers of MediEvil, and can be thrown like a boomerang that also hits on its way back.
Old School Difficulty
Too many games these days are abysmally easy, but that does not even pretend to be the case with MediEvil. The camera is incredibly difficult to control most of the time and sometimes it's easy to miss items Sir Dan Fortesque needs in order to progress in the game. So you do need a bit of tolerance for budding 3D games to enjoy this adventure. Many enemies in the game require you to learn what weapon they are weak to or else you'll take on a lot of damage fighting them. If you don't experiment and keep Dan's one eye open you may miss out on 'Life Bottles' which increase your overall health. Missing out on these optional items can make some parts of the game seem nearly impossible. Some of your weapons have limited durability or ammunition. If you forget to stock up before a fight you might find yourself with only melee weapons against a ranged opponent.
Platforming in this game does not have the same kind of consideration you might find in a Mario game. If our would-be-hero is barely on a platform then he is going to fall, Dan doesn't magically stand tall on the back of his heels like certain plumbers can. Jumping also feels odd in this game and takes a little getting used to. Large gaps are particularly bothersome to cross because you need to dash before you jump if you want to make any distance in the air. Dashing in this game requires a double tap of a direction and that can move the camera if you're not careful. The last thing you want when performing tricky platforming is for the camera to change direction mid-jump. Falling into the water, or the abyss, takes away a whole Life Bar and is the easiest way to visit the Grim Reaper in this game.
The thing I appreciate the most about this game is that there is no indicator pointing where to go at all points of time. Our favorite deceased hero must have been born before google maps were a thing. Figuring out how to progress through the level is part of the challenge and the appeal of this game. Talking to the various gargoyles or reading books placed throughout the levels will generally give Dan Fortesque a hint on how to circumvent certain challenges. Investigating shadows and odd looking walls is always a good way to find secret passageways. Certain objects may just seem out of place and require a little nudging with a certain item to trigger an event. This is a pure type of exploration that I'm used to seeing with Zelda games and am glad it's in MediEvil.
The wit and charm used to make this game make it an unforgettable experience. Sir Daniel Fortesque is a quirky undead guy with the mettle to take all physical and verbal abuse. The support characters help flesh out Dan's bare boned character and their offered weapons give him a number of ways to maim unfriendly corpses. The camera in this game leads to some frustrating deaths, but after a while you adjust and learn to work around it. MediEvil has some old game sensibilities that make it a bit of a chore here and there, but those same sensibilities also make it feel like a true adventure. If you've never played this game before I highly suggest checking it out.
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Shy_Guy92 I haven't actually played the PSP Remake yet, but I plan on doing so. I've read a few reviews and watched some Let's Plays of the game and I have to say it looks much improved. There's some extra dialogue and new voice actors that make it feel a bit different, but it is overall the same. Some of the more frustrating levels have been taken out and replaced with new ones and other levels have seen a few design chages.
While mostly the same the PSP game seems just different enough to be an enjoyable experience for anyone who has already played the original a few times through. It also looks like a great way to experience the game if you've never played the first as it takes some of the more cumbresome parts of the game out.
@TheFunkyRapper I completely hear you on that. When I first stumbled across this game as a kid I instantly took to it. There was just nothing else like it at the time. All the dark humor makes this game something fond to remember.
I like the atmosphere and humor in this game BUT I never completed it due to its horrid controls. From Pools of Ancient Dead and on the platforming parts are just unbearable.
I should probably try the PSP version if the controls are any better.
No joke @ID-69 . Pools of the Ancient Dead was just an absolute nightmare for me. Between the camera getting stuck on flag poles and how strict the platforming is... I died quite a lot on that level. It took me a bit of getting used to, but after awhile I became accustomed to how Dan Fortesque jumped and was finally able to jump across the deadly water reliably.
From what I'm told the controls are much better in the PSP version and also the Pools of the Ancient Dead level has been completely redesigned. The level looks much easier and far more enjoyable this time around with a much smaller emphasis on platforming.
You're welcome, Venks7! Cool. Might add it to my short list then. By the way, welcome to the forums . Looking forward to reading future reviews by you.
@Box9Missingo Thanks! I really appreciate it. I had a lot of fun writing this review. And yeah I'm pretty sure you could play MediEvil Ressurection on the Vita. Don't see why not.