As 2019 wraps up, MediEvil is enjoying new attention. Like other ‘90s PlayStation game franchises, it’s had a remake of the first game in the series. With new graphics and other upgrades, it revisits the tale of Dan (or Sir Daniel Fortesque), a skeletal knight on a path of redemption after living as a cowardly and selfish mortal. A comic book tie-in that serves double duty as both a prequel and a sequel—thanks to time travel—was also published this month. But this comic, created by the game’s original creators Chris Sorrell and Jason Wilson, does even more. It tries to realize the cut promise of a third mainline entry in the MediEvil series.
There are now a total of four MediEvil games—including this year’s remake—but only the first two entries make up a multi-part series. The third MediEvil game made wasn’t a new story, but a PSP reimagining of the first title.
Their proposal for MediEvil 3: Fate's Arrow would have picked up where MediEvil 2 concluded—or after players unlocked the ending where Dan and the mummy princess Kiya use a time machine. (If players didn't unlock that secret ending in MediEvil 2, the game concludes with Dan and Kiya returning to the afterlife together.)
After travelling back in time to when Dan is still a flesh-and-bone mortal and far less heroic, present-day skeletal Dan learns a terrible truth. His beloved Kiya is actually Kiyante the sorceress, and was only using him to gain control of the time machine and ally herself with his old enemy, Zarok. She plans to undo the good Dan has done by ensuring his past self lives “long enough” to see victory turn to failure with an “earth...overrun with demons and mankind enslaved.”
The pitch explained that Dan's main goal would have been to preserve the original timeline seen in the first two games, even making sure that his death occurs as before.
But the MediEvil 3 pitch was ultimately rejected, with Unseen 64 noting that at the time, the PSP “became a significant company focus” and the license to the popular television series 24 “became available to Sony Cambridge.” Instead, the PSP reimagining happened, “ultimately conceived as a way to re-introduce the franchise with a shorter scale project.”
Unseen 64 reported that the PSP remake ended up taking some aspects from the abandoned pitch, like new characters and items. It even turned the original title of the sequel pitch into the name of a minigame. But now there's the new MediEvil comic, which does more than repurpose or reference some pitch elements—it literally acts out chunks of the proposed story. Just like in the original pitch, the comic has Dan trying to make sure the timeline doesn't change, and that he dies like he's supposed to.
It’s not a complete version of the game pitch in comic form though. There are differences, some of them big; for instance, Kiya isn’t an antagonist. Her role may have shifted due to the change in medium. Kiya’s role as an antagonist may have been easier done in a game planned to be a hefty expansion on gameplay and lore, rather than in a comic story that’s around 50 pages long.
In some ways, reading the game pitch as reported by Unseen 64 feels more interesting than reading the comic. That’s reasonable enough, given that the whole thing was originally conceived as a longer game. The pitch does have the touch of something more epic and interesting.
But the comic has moments of that too, and it does what it can to adapt the story to its new medium and length. It does this well enough, doing a passable job; but it’s not an awe-inspiring execution, and the overall pacing feels rushed and off. A longer length could have served it well. (Or again, if it had been a game like intended.)
The comic’s art seems true to the original MediEvil’s The Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired visuals. It also somehow feels like it has a little of the linework, texture, color, and quality of William Stout’s illustration. While the writing appears to suffer due to rushed pacing, as well as a lack of some depth and missed potential, Dan feels endearing enough. However, he’s still not as vibrant a character as he could be in the comic.
The ending of the whole thing feels particularly abrupt. Though it seems like a cliffhanger complete with a literal question mark, it’s a clunky cliffhanger. Will this comic continue in the future? Even if it does, that doesn’t necessarily save the experience of reading this story. And if there isn’t some form of continuation, the ending becomes even more clumsy.
Though it has some unique-looking characters on the surface, the MediEvil comic is an average, decent story. It doesn’t leave much of an impression afterward, and it isn’t the most impactful or entertaining. However, it may be better appreciated by more die-hard fans of the franchise.
It might even hold more possibilities. Does a comic resurrecting the MediEvil 3 pitch indicate the chance of a full game revival? As 2019 draws to a close, 2020 is set for new things, and that could include MediEvil finally getting its true third entry.
What do you think of the new MediEvil comic? Do you wish you could’ve played MediEvil 3: Fate's Arrow? Would you want to see it made today? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.