Wednesday, November 6, 2019

You're All Bones! - MediEvil (PS4) - Part 1

Though the spooky season has wound down, there's still plenty of time for Fall Frights. In that spirit, I feel it is appropriate to play a game that Sony has opted to resurrect from my childhood. While not the best, it was a franchise that heavily appealed to me in many ways.

Let us join my friend, Sir Daniel Fortesque on his quest to save Gallowmere in the 2019 remake of MediEvil.

(This is a remake of a game I wrote about years ago, in case you were interested.)

Something I said early on in this video is that I think something was lost in the translation from PS1 to PS4, but I don't entirely fault the team responsible for the remake for that.

To better illustrate that point, I want to embed the original opening here, courtesy of YouTube user Sergi Medina. The equivalent scene in the remake occurs in 3:11 in my video.

On some level, that loss was inevitable, simply due to the nature of bringing the PS1 models and animations onto the PS4. The original version has a stiffness and awkwardness to it, in the movements of Zarok, the Mad Family, and even the way the water parts when Zarok is leaving his tower. Those qualities are just uncanny enough to be unsettling, introducing an element of horror and creepiness to the scene as a whole. Just by transitioning to a platform where more fluid animation, higher resolution, and better modeling is possibly, some of that is undone.

Having said that, another aspect that might have preserved an bits of that undercurrent of unease is the lighting. I've noticed this with more than a few of the PS1 to PS4 remakes like Crash and Spyro, but here it's even more noticeable due to the tone of the game. There's a brightness to the scene in the PS4 version that wasn't there in the original, which was much dimmer in terms of literal stage lighting. The Scarecrow Fields opening comparison makes this a little more noticeable. (For comparison's sake, the same begins at 1:15:28 on my video.)

Making the scene physically brighter changes the overall mood, from one of subtle discomfort to one closer to a Saturday morning cartoon with a "Gothic Horror" aesthetic. It's a subtle difference that I couldn't really articulate until I saw them back to back. One is not inherently better than the other, but it does change the context to the proceedings ever so slightly.

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