No, I am not misspelling Medieval!
The land of Gallowmere has been at peace for a hundred years, thanks to the courageous Sir Daniel Fortesque. According to the history books, Sir Dan was slain by the evil wizard Zarok, seconds after delivering the final blow to the vile necromancer. Unfortunately, this was just a tale concocted by the good King Peregrin to give his subjects a feeling of safety. Sir Dan was actually slain by the first arrow fired in the first battle against Zarok - not so much a hero as arrow fodder. Of course, since Fortesque was dead, he couldn't argue when they constructed a tomb and made him a hero, post-mortem. Now, however, the evil wizard is back and his vile magicks have raised all the dead in Gallowmere, including our good friend Dan. Now he must prove his worth to both himself and the land, and destroy the evil wizard once and for all. Will he earn his place in the Hall of Heroes? Or will those pointy arrows once again find a home in the body of Fortesque? Only time will tell . . .
Medievil (spelled "evil," like the fruits of the dEvil) is the latest game to join the ever growing number of 3D platformers. Some of the new platform games have been good, like Banjo-Kazooie and Gex: Enter the Gecko, while others have been disappointing, like Bomberman Hero and Jersey Devil. Medievil is definitely one of the former. With good graphics, a great mood, and a fantastic sense of humor, gamers will find themselves investing hours in this gem.
Gameplay is straightforward and easy to master. You can walk or run Sir Daniel around his spooky 3D worlds, looking for puzzles to solve and bad guys to smash. The combat is refreshingly fun and simple. With each one of many weapons you have two different attacks, and you can power them up by holding the button down. You can also use your shield to block, but it takes damage and will eventually nee to be repaired or replaced. And what is it that you need all these weapons to fight?
From zombies rising up out of the ground (Zombies Unite!!) to a stained glass demon whose heart can be seen beating inside his chest to the cute ax-wielding little girl, all the enemies are great and the graphics are done really well. The FMV cut sequences mesh perfectly with the gameplay, and give the gamer an excellent reward for beating certain levels.
Because the arrow that felled him a hundred years ago hit him in the eye, our decomposed and jawless hero has but one eye with which to see the evil that abounds. His weapons are gigantic in both size and power. He can even don the armor of a dragon, and I must say that the green goes with his eye.
Speaking of the weapons, they are too numerous to mention. While some can be gained in the levels themselves, the vast majority are given to you by the heroes of old in one of your many trips to the Hall of Heroes. In the hall, statues have been erected to honor all the great heroes of Gallowmere. Needless to say, a statue of Sir Daniel Fortesque is not among them. Each level of the game has a chalice that, once collected, allows you to visit the Hall and talk to one (and only one) hero. What the heroes give you ranges from amazing (i.e. Sword of Death, a Big Hammer, etc.), to just plain lame (i.e. treasure or health vials). Of course, to receive these gifts you have to listen to what each of these great heroes actually thinks of you. Hardly complementary. . .
Despite what they think of you personally, the voice acting in Medievil is fantastic. Each character in the game has their own voice, usually some thickly accented foreign stereotype, and the number of things said is refreshing. Sir Dan, on the other hand, is only able to grunt and mumble his responses, due to the aforementioned lack of a jaw. As you might have guessed, the designers obviously had a distinct sense of humor that permeates the game, and, at times, has you laughing out loud.
The music is also well done. Too recently we have played games where the music and the gameplay had nothing in common. (For example, Rogue Trip). In Medievil, however, the music gives the game an eerie mood, perfectly blending with the gothic feel of the game.
In the end, what we have here is one of the cleverest platform games ever made. Though not as graphically amazing as the N64's Banjo-Kazooie, Medievil is able to capitalize on the ability to use both music, voice, and FMV that Banjo-Kazooie had to do without. Released just in time for Halloween, this game is perfect for the Goth lover deep down inside all of us (just as long as you don't dress in all black and listen to the Violent Femmes. Why can't I get, just one...oh, never mind. - Ed.). This game is more than just a Halloween treat, though, and should be a top seller throughout the holiday season, and a classic after that.