MediEvil is a classic hack-and-slash action game developed by SCE Cambridge Studio and published by Sony in 1998. In it you play as the resurrected skeleton of Sir Daniel Fortesque, in the kingdom of Gallowmere, who has been inadvertently brought back from his eternal sleep to once again fight the evil sorcerer Zarok (voiced by the late Paul Darrow). As shown in the humorous introductory sequence, Sir Dan’s initial attempt at thwarting Zarok fell flat on its face and this is his shot at redemption.
The game sees you exploring a variety of 3D environments, with the viewpoint set in third-person, and using a variety of different weapons to fight Zarok’s army of monsters. These range from zombies, in the first level, to killer scarecrows and even hypnotised village kids with axes. It seems apparent to me that MediEvil is a love letter to horror films of the past (particularly the Evil Dead series, because severed hands scurry around most levels but don’t attack you), and executed in a comedic and non-scary manner. Similar in some respects to Zombies Ate My Neighbors, but in 3D.
Sir Dan has a health bar, that appears when necessary, and can collect up to three Life Bottles to keep things going. If his health bar is depleted a Life Bottle is used to immediately re-fill it. If there are no Life Bottles in Sir Dan’s possession when it hits zero, then it’s game over. You can find and use the occasional rejuvenation fountain to top-up your health and will also instantly lose a life if you fall into deep water (so don’t do that).
At the start of the game Sir Dan is given two weapons: a sword, for melee combat, and throwing daggers for ranged attacks, but can acquire others as the game progresses. Pressing Select allows you to switch between weapons, and to access other special inventory items such as keys. Also: when not in possession of a weapon at all, Sir Dan can rip off his arm and use it as a melee weapon, which is a neat touch. Sir Dan can also jump and crouch, which are useful on occasion.
Each time you dispatch an enemy a pink glowing swirl is shown, indicating that you’ve collected a soul and partially filled a chalice. When the chalice is full you can collect it (from wherever it is hidden in a level – you have to find it) and it will then allow access to the “Hall of Heroes” where Sir Dan will be given a prize (usually a new weapon, but sometimes a Life Bottle or some other useful item). Some NPCs have ‘good souls’ and – if killed – will reduce the chalice percentage, so you do have to be careful who you kill at certain points in the game. Only if all chalices have been collected in every level will the ‘true’ ending be revealed when the game is completed.
Occasionally you’ll encounter gargoyle heads that are actually shopkeepers who sell supplies, such as ammunition for certain weapons. Some weapons, like the club, can break rocks that allow access to new areas, but the club degrades over time and must be re-collected if it stops working. The game’s levels, which are chosen from a map screen, are designed to be re-visited so that you can access new areas within them – if you remember to go back.
MediEvil is a fun game that is easy to play and gradually becomes more challenging over time. There are boss battles every now and then, and exploring is interesting because the game keeps moving forward with new ideas and simple puzzles (usually involving finding runes to unlock gates) that are not too difficult to solve. Melee combat with the sword (the default weapon) is a bit haphazard, but the auto aiming crossbow (which you acquire after filling the first chalice) is strangely satisfying to use and is rapid fire, which gives the game a nice shooter feeling.
On the downside: MediEvil does have a pretty clunky camera that can get in the way occasionally, and the CGI cut scenes are horribly dated, but overall the game has stood the test of time and still plays well today.
A sequel, called MediEvil 2, was released for the PlayStation in 2000. In 2005, a remake of the first MediEvil was released for the PlayStation Portable under the title of MediEvil: Resurrection. A PlayStation 4 remake of MediEvil was also released in 2019.
More: MediEvil on Wikipedia