I have decided to start reviewing a selection of games that were very close to my heart and indeed still hold that special place; PS1 games. For Years I played my PS1 loving all the wonderful diversity, creativity and downright fun I found in the games before things became too serious, before we lost characters like Daniel Fortesque, Tombi and the Hogs of War to the faceless, emotionless goons that dominate today’s popular market. So now I will begin playing all my old PS1 games and reviewing them at my leisure as keeping a schedule is far too annoying.
Might as well kick off the list with one of my absolute favourites from the PS1 era and that is Medievil developed by SCEE Cambridge back in 1998. An evil Sorcerer named Zarok who was supposedly killed 100 years prior to the game by a brave and valiant knight has somehow returned to the land of Gallowmere and has risen the dead, stolen the sanity of the living and is generally making a big mess of the country. His spell however awoke Sir Daniel Fortesque, the knight who supposedly slew Zarok a century earlier when in actuality he fell in the first charge on Zarok’s army but had his legend created so the King could save face about his “Champion’s” death. So Dan sets off to put Zarok down once and for all, thereby restoring his reputation and allowing him to rest once more.
The plot doesn’t really get much simpler than that but that’s a good thing. It tells us what we need to know and lets us pave our own path throughout the game without tying us up with lengthy plot sequences or ridiculous twists and turns.
Medievil sees you facing off against all manner of undead and demonic foes from zombies to axe wielding villagers to homicidal pumpkin creatures and allows you to counter this with a colourful array of weapons including swords, hammers, bows, your own arm and even turning your foes into chicken drumsticks. Some of the weapons are found in certain levels in the game, and are better at dealing with some foes than others, but others need to be earned from the Hall of Heroes, a gathering place for the spirits of history’s greatest heroes. If you kill enough enemies or vice-versa not kill enough brainwashed citizens then you become eligible to collect the Chalice of Souls which allows you to visit the Hall of Heroes, collect your new item and probably have the piss taken out of you by one of the statues there.
Gameplay is simple, hit things until they die while avoiding being hit by them for most fights although all the bosses usually have an interesting twist during the fight. Health can be regained from fountains and health vials sprawled throughout the level and there is plenty of treasure to be collected for those who look hard enough. This is used to exchange services with some of the many gargoyles present throughout the game. These leering stone faces either fill you in about the local history or sell you provisions such as ammunition, shield repair or return weapons that may have been pinched from you earlier in the game.
The game is rich with lore from the many books found lying around and humour is around every corner in the form of conversations with the gargoyles, heroes and even in missions you undertake. The levels are very varied and you see a change of scenery and enemies every few levels. This added with the large amount of problem solving needed for some puzzles altogether serve to make the game all the more enjoyable. The enemies are nice and varied and often quite humorous from the lumbering, moaning zombies, to the squealing, torch-branding imps. The vast choice of weapons coupled with the large number of zones gives the game a great sense of size and often has you replaying your favourite levels to test out different weapons.
Medievil is a game with few faults and they can be ignored by its outstanding good qualities. It is well paced and sees a nice steady progression of difficulty while never being too horrific but at the same time still remaining relatively simple. Coupled with a wealth of humorous characters, menagerie of enemies and sheer stupid number of weapons the game gives you a great deal of enjoyment from start to finish. All in all a spectacular example of originality and raw fun with Dan himself standing out as a loveable character from the get go. Well worth downloading for your PS3 if you don’t own it already.