Evil Dead: The Game
Evil Dead has been terrifying stoned students, horror fans and geeks into niche references since the early 1980s. The movie, made for around 80 pence in today’s money, was an unassuming piece of work driven by three young students who set the standard for many horror tropes used today. On top of this, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert accidentally created a franchise spanning different mediums, even some forty years later. Fast forward to 2022 and I’m taking a look at the latest entry in the franchise, Evil Dead: The Game.
At A Glance
|Positives||+ Lovingly crafted for Evil Dead fans|
+ Playing as the Demon causes mayhem
+ Jump scares galore
|Negatives||– Single player relegated to a handful of missions|
– Not enough enemy variation
– Camera is a little too close for comfort
|Price (When Reviewed)||£39.99|
|Our Playtime||20 hours|
|Available On||PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC (Soon: Switch)|
Evil Dead: The Game is an online asymmetric multiplayer game created by Saber Interactive, who are best known for their work on co-developing The Master Chief Collection, as well porting The Witcher 3 to Nintendo Switch. Four players are dropped into those infamous woods as human characters and must survive the night by finding the Necronomicon – the Book of the Dead. To find the book, players first have to search for items that lead to the book’s location. Attempting to thwart the survivors, is the invisible Kandarian Demon, controlled by a fifth player. Their job is simple; summon demons, possess trees, and cause an excruciating amount of pandemonium to swallow the souls of the players. Those who’ve experienced Friday the 13th or Dead By Daylight will know the drill, and the game runs similarly in this respect.
Before being dropped into the huge map (more on that later), players choose their survivors from a roster of well-known faces who’ve appeared throughout the franchise’s film and TV outings. Characters such as Scotty, a secondary character who *spoiler from 1981 alert* doesn’t make it beyond the first film, all the way through to Kelly and Pablo, the youthful driving force behind Ash Vs Evil Dead, all make their mark in the game. The star of the show however is Ashley Williams, the hapless character around whom the entire series is based. Voiced by Campbell himself, he embodies the horror and cheese that the series is loved for. Witty one-liners are delivered with aplomb throughout the game and provides the level of fanservice Evil Dead: The Game aims to achieve.
Each character is sorted into four different classes; Leader, Warrior, Support, and Hunter, and each has a varying set of skills that can be utilised throughout each run – and yes, if you want to, everyone can play as Ash at the same time as he features in every category in one form or another. Before the blood and guts start flinging from your chainsaws, just take my tip and coordinate with your pals on who is taking which role. During one of my first games no one chose to be a medic, and much like Ash’s hand, it went bad.
As players begin searching for the book, the demon player utilises several tools, such as traps, where Ash’s mutilated hand will spring out of chests, or having a tree swing at players if they get too close. You can also summon demons, which is the easiest way to cause damage, and towards the end game you can take the form of bosses like Evil Ash or the basement dweller Henrietta in order to deliver a healthy amount of pain. There’s even a button that allows you to jump-scare your enemies! All that said, my absolute favourite part of the game is the ability to possess. While summoning the army of the dead is fun, you can jump into the mind of one of the Deadites and go after specific players, handy if they have low health and are trying to flee. If, however, enough emotional damage is inflicted, a quick tap of L1 allows possession of a player, taking over their screen and causing them to attack their own teammates. The sadistic part of me took a different approach though,and instead of attacking others, I chose to waste players’ ammunition and health drinks as they helplessly watched on. If this is timed right, this can be done just before a big skirmish which will help finish the team off. This is absolutely where I gained the most amount of joy from Evil Dead.
So the characters are faithful to the series, but what about the setting? For Evil Dead: The Game, Saber Interactive used some creative licence to expand the wooded area around the Knowby cabin from the films into a huge map featuring service stations, small cul-de-sacs, and creepy tunnels that are peppered in and primed for looting. With a large area to explore and a thirty-minute time limit per game, the area does feel too big at times. There can be lulls trying to find certain elements, especially early in the game, but the action ramps up before becoming drawn out. After so many hours of flying around the map, I started to learn where all the spawn points, traps and chests are scattered, which is by no means a bad thing but in a few months time could start to get repetitive. Luckily, Saber Interactive has released a second fancy-pants map riffing the Army of Darkness. It’s equally as massive and with lots to explore, but it remains to be seen how the team will mix up the maps in the months/years ahead to keep players hooked, especially now that all of the movies have been fully represented.
Evil Dead: The Game gets a lot of things right; a massive multiplayer map, the fan service which oozes from every orifice, and 1980s horror aesthetic that mixes scary with funny in a perfect combination. It’s a shame that Evil Dead has a few issues that dampen the experience. As a survivor I felt the camera was too focussed on the player rather than the environment, which was great for those up-close and personal glory kills but particularly annoying when trying to see who or what was on my back at any given moment. As the demon there are severe limitations to enemy types. At the beginning of the match, I had the choice of three bosses, each with two enemy types – standard and elite, both of which look and act similar to one another. While the Elite goon is stronger, more enemy variation would have been nice. The game is also an online-only experience and while there is a single player, it simply boils down to a handful of drawn-out missions designed to teach you the layout of the map rather than add anything to the franchise’s forty-year lore.
Those issues aside, Evil Dead: The Game still manages to tick a hell of a lot of boxes when it has no business too. The hammy horror is surprisingly well put together and the balance between good versus evil feels fair during play. The cabin in the woods is lovingly recreated, Campbell’s snarky and witty remarks are out in force and terrorising players as the Kandarian Demon is something any fan can get on board with. Those unfamiliar with the franchise might not get every single reference but the asymmetric multiplayer is an absolute blast even to those without any knowledge of what’s going on. Each of the survivor classes offers unique ways to play and while there are a few drawbacks such as the lack of a meaty single player and camera issues, Evil Dead: The Game is an entertaining, fun game that can be summed up in one, all-encompassing word: Groovy.
In the interest of full disclosure, VGamingNews was provided with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.