Did you know there’s gonna be a new MediEvil game? Sony’s been showing it off at events, like the most recent State of Play livestream, but details have been a little scarce. A new limited time demo that came out today offers a sneak peek into the upcoming exclusive action-comedy game. The brief preview shows some of the game’s silly world and characters, but ultimately, it feels a little generic, at least so far.
The original MediEvil released in 1998 for the Sony PlayStation. It tells the story of Sir Daniel Fortesque, a skeleton knight brought back to life in order to fight an evil sorcerer named Zarok. Even though legends paint Daniel as a gallant hero, he’s a bit of a doofus, having died immediately to an arrow in the head during a battle against Zarok. Accidentally revived by one of Zarok’s necromancy spells a century later, he gambols off to defeat the sorcerer. It’s a silly set-up, and Daniel’s grinning antics making for a fun affair. You can yank off your arm to smack zombies in the face and solve rudimentary puzzles. It’s a bit more linear than the action and explorations games that would come after—Spyro, Jak and Daxter—but it’s cut from a similar cloth. The PlayStation 4 version is a remake, and a demo called the Short Lived Demo is currently on the PlayStation Store until October 7th.
Playing the demo earlier today, I found myself sucked into MediEvil’s zany world but underwhelmed by the actual playing. The demo contains the first level of the game, which provides an early sense of the pacing and action. In playing it, I found swords and throw daggers, traipsed about a graveyard picking up collectibles, and opened plenty of locked doors. MedIEvil is a straightforward game, almost entirely linear, except for some occasional branching pathways that soon lead back to the main area again. It feels like an arcade game, a step up from Ghosts and Goblins or Fester’s Quest. In that light, MediEvil as a fun blast from the past. In 2019, it’s got stiffer competition.
The demo lives up to the “short-lived” name, coming and going in about twenty minutes’ time without leaving much of an impression. MediEvil is silly in that way that older games were, with grainy cutscenes and broad voice acting. It’s also stiff and awkward to my modern eyes. I kept asking, “Why are we doing this, and why now?” The demo isn’t deep enough to answer that, although the original wasn’t that deep, either. Cartoony graphics and a classic feel brought a warm tingle of nostalgia, but MediEvil wasn’t all that exciting to play.
It’s neat to see an old classic back from the dead, but MediEvil feels a bit perfunctory. We’ve seen strong remakes in recent years such as Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap or the recent remake of Link’s Awakening that have their own unique flair and build upon the source material. That’s not the case here, at least based on this demo. While it might please fans who loved the original, MediEvil’s demo doesn’t suggest that the game is prepared to meet the challenge of reaching a new, broader audience. Hopefully, the full game will breathe a little more life into this idea.