It’s a great time to be a nostalgic PlayStation fan. Popular mascots like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon are being dragged kicking and screaming into 2019, with lovingly-remastered versions of their original PlayStation adventures available to enjoy on current-gen systems.
The not-so-popular mascot Sir Daniel Fortesque has been resurrected too. If you remember the cult classic MediEvil (a cartoonish-yet-gothic adventure about a skeletal knight who sets out from his crypt to vanquish an evil sorcerer), you’re probably wondering how the recent remaster of the 1998 PS1 hack and slash compares with the original. Which version is better? Let’s take a look!
10 BETTER: The Moldy Undead Have Never Looked So Good
Now, it’s completely unfair to judge the two-decades-old original on its visuals. We’re not going to take cheap shots like that. What we are going to do is make the obvious yet necessary observation that MediEvil PS4 looks incredible.
There’s a certain vibrancy to the aesthetic, a bright, beautiful and oddly adorable cartoonish nature to the undead (think Plants Vs. Zombies) that we wouldn’t have believed possible back in the day. The world of Gallowmere has been lavished with an incredible amount of attention –right down to the world map, which shows a little of what awaits in the coming level—and it’s clear that the developers were passionate about the project.
9 WORSE: Framerate Follies
As bold and beautiful as the visuals are, they come with a price. The MediEvil remake is unlikely to impress those gamers who are very particular about performance.
Even on a PS4 Pro, MediEvil suffers from framerate drops. The bigger, busier environments cause the system all kinds of trouble, and while these moments are quite infrequent, they’re very troublesome when they do occur. If you’ve ever run a PC game on settings that are playable but just a little above your system’s comfort zone, you’ll know what to expect here.
8 BETTER: Lost Souls
Now, remasters such as this are all about cashing in on fans’ nostalgia. As such, developers want to take care to ensure the experience they deliver is as authentic as possible. In short: those who fondly remember the original game(s) aren’t going to find much that’s brand new this time around, beyond simple quality of life improvements and such.
MediEvil PS4, however, has brought a new gameplay mechanic into the mix: Lost Souls. At a certain point in the game, you’ll unlock access to said souls, which are hidden throughout the levels (earlier ones can be revisited at any time). Each gives you a little puzzle to solve, the key to finding out which level to take them to. When you find the right spot, you must complete a further challenge, such as an enemy gauntlet, before the soul can be laid to rest (check out our guide to completing this sidequest here). It’s quite a minor addition, but the challenges provide something new for old hands who think they’ve already seen everything MediEvil has to offer.
7 WORSE: It’s A Product Of Its (Original) Time
Here’s the difficult thing about remasters: fans want them to be as true to the beloved original as possible. However, depending on the age of the game in question, that’s not always such a great thing.
Even on its first release in 1998, MediEvil’s cumbersome controls and unresponsive camera were tough to swallow. These sorts of gripes were less of an issue back then, though, as those sorts of mechanics in 3D titles were still being refined. With the remake being a modern title, its authenticity in that regard could be considered a point against it, as our standards have changed.
6 BETTER: The Book Of Gallowmere
The Book of Gallowmere, like the Lost Souls quest, is a new feature that enriches the experience without ever being obtrusive or changing the experience too much.
The book is found in Dan’s inventory, and keeps a record of NPCs, enemies and such the player meets (a prompt on screen notifies you whenever the book is automatically updated). The entries within are brief but often hilarious, definitely worth checking out. The world of Gallowmere is such an unforgettable and intriguing place that its denizens deserve a little more meat on their bones (lore-wise), which the Book of Gallowmere delivers.
5 WORSE: It’s More Difficult (If You Want It To Be)
Now, this one’s going to be a little more subjective, as it involves the use of the optional Dan’s Helmet item (a bonus unlocked in Dan’s Crypt in the Short-Lived Demo and transferred to the main game thereafter).
What does the item do? It makes the game a heck of a lot harder, that’s what it does. Equipping it changes Dan’s look (of course), but the game also gives the player a warning prompt that the item is cursed. While Dan’s wearing the helmet, he takes double damage from enemies, which can be very problematic for those unaccustomed with the sometimes-finicky nature of MediEvil’s combat and controls. If the camera decides not to cooperate at the wrong moment, you can easily blunder into newly-spawned enemies that shred through your health. It’s a great optional challenge, yes, but you’ll want to be very, very careful with it.
4 BETTER: The Camera
Fans of the original won’t be remotely surprised to hear that MediEvil PS4 is still quite controversial on the camera control front. Players have had varying experiences with it.
While the remake’s camera tracks Dan rather well automatically and can be freely rotated if necessary, the new strafing mode pulls things in just a little too close to his bony hindquarters. It can be just as disorientating at times. Nonetheless, it’s still a marked step forward from the original overall.
3 WORSE: Too Much Prettiness, Not Enough Creepiness?
As we’ve already mentioned, the wonderful visuals of MediEvil PS4 come at a cost. Not only in terms of the game’s performance in busy areas, but perhaps also when it comes to the spooky vibe too.
Now, nobody’s saying that Gallowmere was ever as dark or horrifying as Bloodborne’s mysterious setting of Yharnam, but the original game had a grim, dimly-lit vibe that the remake doesn’t quite express in some ways. It’s brighter, more cartoony, which some may feel detracts from the Tim Burton-inspired aesthetic of MediEvil 1998.
2 BETTER: Gargoyle Personalities
Fitting in with that more colorful, animated vibe, the gargoyles of MediEvil PS4 are alive with personality… which is quite a feat when you consider that they’re really just wall-mounted faces.
They’re just as snarky to our bony hero as they were in the original, knowing the truth about his less-than-heroic death. Two decades of technological advancement later, though, they’re absolutely full of character. The Merchant Gargoyles even happily chomp on your coins after you pay them for their wares, which is a fantastic and hilarious touch.
1 WORSE: MediEvil 2 Wasn’t Included
This may also seem like a very harsh criticism, but when comparing MediEvil as a modern game in 1998 and MediEvil PS4 as a modern game in 2019, something seems a little off in terms of the value of the package.
The remaster wasn’t released at full price, unlike many such games, but what about MediEvil 2? The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited Trilogy were full, loving-produced packages. This remaster was largely aimed at the fans, who would have loved a double feature. Especially as the Victorian-themed sequel certainly didn’t get the recognition it deserved.