This review was provided by freelance writer Adam Riley.
Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest starts off with some standard calibration, asking the player to strike certain poses before leaping straight into the fray. As with any motion-style game, having your set-up just right, placing the PlayStation Eye camera in the ideal location, as well as ensuring there is sufficient room around you, all are imperative factors when aiming to have a favourable gaming experience. When commencing the adventure, there is a short period of vulnerability during what the game calls a Flash Forward, a small moment where enemies may be slashing at you, but thankfully no damage is inflicted. Basically, it is a brief way to ease players into what is about to unfold. For anyone reading this and suddenly wondering why there is talk of slashing in the midst of a mini-game review, brace yourself for the shock of a lifetime – this Move-enabled title is in fact not a mere menagerie of thirty-second thrills, but an action adventure that incorporates various motion-controlled gameplay elements.
Of course ‘action adventure’ may be somewhat misleading, since although it tries to pass itself off as just that, the more apt description would have to be ‘interactive on-rails adventure’ since it works almost exactly like classics such as House of the Dead, Virtua Cop, and more recent efforts like Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles and Dead Space: Extraction, except with a far more family friendly exterior. In fact, there are even shades of Sin and Punishment 2: Successor of the Skies mixed in there as there are plenty of tête-à-tête skirmishes. Sony’s studios have really done their best to glean numerous key elements that made entries into the genre so successful, and, for the most part, have achieved this admirably.
In order to draw players into Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest, a tale of anguish and misery is woven, albeit light-hearted anguish of course, with events unfolding by means of a storybook, complete with gorgeous hand-drawn sketches and some mightily impressive narration, including a shockingly authentic Scottish accent or two! Young Prince Edmund reveres his father, who sadly passed away many years ago, but still stays by the young lad’s side thanks to a special magical amulet. With the late King Edmund’s guidance, the hero of this yarn longs to don a shining suit of armour and be part of the vanguard that helps maintain safety within the realm, protecting the sacred Gate Stone. As (bad) luck would have it, his wish for exciting escapades was fulfilled when an evil sorcerer by the name of Morgrimm the Black invaded, breaking down the castle walls, taking over the kingdom and casting a vicious spell across the populace, turning them into his own personal skeletal army. The nefarious wizard overheard a conversation between father and son about where the Gate Stone was hidden, and then endeavoured to draw young Edmund to the ‘other side.’ As Morgrimm was not quite powerful enough to destroy the special Amulet in Edmund’s possession, although the young squire was transformed into a skeleton, he did not lose his will…or his sense of humour, with the eponymous hero quipping that he now looked “More like Deadmund than Edmund!” Thus the re-labelled ‘Deadmund’ indeed heads off to face many trials on his gallant quest of restoring the once peaceful inhabitants to their previous form, and it is up to you to aid him on this perilous crusade, engaging spine-chilling monsters in battle in order to piece together the broken amulet.
Coming from the same teams that collaborated on the surprisingly pleasing Sports Champions, San Diego Studio and Zindagi Games, the early stages are exceedingly similar in nature to Wii Sports Resorts mixed with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, two highly impressive Nintendo Wii games that solely rely on the MotionPlus technology. Something that the PlayStation 3 has so far lacked since Move was released is a product that makes exemplary use of the equipment. However, swinging your sword in a near 1:1 manner and drawing arrows from your quiver by doing an ‘over-the-shoulder’ manoeuvre have such a natural feel in Medieval Moves that it goes a long way to prove there is life in Sony’s Move yet. Before heading off to restore peace unto the kingdom, Deadmund, née Prince Edmund, must go through the motions and take part in some melee training; an induction process, if you will, and where that all important calibration from the beginning comes into play.
After automatically running and jumping his way to a new section, the game goes into a first-person viewpoint where Edmund turns into an outlined version of himself so that none of the on-going action is obscured. It is from this point that the introductory section commences, teaching how to swing the sword in various directions, ensuring enough power is put behind each swipe to inflict sufficient damage, reminding players to ‘Swing Harder’ when necessary. It also reveals how best to block attacks, holding the controller high in the air to parry strokes from above and moving it downwards to cover the lower regions, before counter-attacking with style and force. When in a battle scenario there are potential projectile hazards as well as hand-to-hand combat situations, so deflecting those is of the utmost importance and this works in the same way as general shield usage. Attacking enemies from distance requires use of a bow and arrow, a procedure that is instigated by holding the Move controller over your shoulder, pressing the T button and pulling it back in front of your body. You can then opt to get the camera to zoom in further to gain a closer view of your combatant, precisely placing the on-screen reticule with an effortless tilt of the controller before unleashing the arrow.
There are three difficulty levels to choose from in one-player mode: Squire, Knight and Champion, with the latter two offering completion rewards, allowing for other characters to be unlocked for use during the Story Mode. In terms of weaponry, Deadmund is not restricted to use of the sword and arrows alone, with Shuriken and a Grappling Hook also coming into play early on. The former is a standard weapon alternative, which can be triggered by holding the Move controller across the waist, as if reaching into a side pocket, holding the T button, and then flicking at the screen whilst releasing. As in real life, the accuracy of throwing stars is far lower than the bow and arrow, yet quicker in the despatch, so it comes down to personal preference. As for the Grappling Hook, pointing the controller downwards at first, and then lifting it up permits the aim and launch of Deadmund over treacherous drops or over walls. This can be used at various stages to uncover hidden paths, so a keen eye is required to identify where it should be swiftly whipped out and shot off. In fact, there are several opportunities to pick up bonuses throughout, and given the on-rails nature of play, sharp reactions are a must in order to grab them before the action moves on, especially during special ‘Loot Shoot’ sections where players are encouraged to break a set number of targets within an allotted time limit.
Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest has everything going for it, with an extremely well presented grand tale, multiple pathways throughout the action to prevent linearity breeding boredom, enemies that must be felled in a variety of ways, plenty of bonuses to collect, secret areas to uncover, and even a host of online competitive and co-operative options, as well as the choice of playing in Stereoscopic 3D for those with the appropriate set-up. The main element that holds this Sports Champion pseudo-sequel from true excellence are moments of motion-confusion, where the bow and arrow motion brings up the throwing stars, or the shield does not block quickly enough. For the sake of this review it proved to be only a minor foible that was adapted to quite quickly during the adventure so as to not cause too much considerable frustration and spoil what is otherwise a fantastic Move experience, but for younger children wanting instant fun, it could end up being a deal-breaker.
MLG Rating: 7/10
Platform: PS3 Release Date: 16/11/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two days on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.