Reviews

Evil Dead: The Game Review

Evil Dead is really a 40-year-old franchise that, along with being one of the biggest indie horror success stories, has become a beloved part of the pop culture zeitgeist and still spawns media to this day.  There are hardly any other franchises that start as a campy horror-comedy with critical acclaim, box office success, as well as an off-broadway musical.  It’s bloody, it’s fun, and exceptionally quotable whilst producing instant stars from the likes of Bruce Campbell and director Sam Raimi.  To add to this legacy, numerous games happen to be made for the franchise, none memorable, to name this one Evil Dead: The Game, it must perform the franchise justice, and Saber Interactive was up to the task, so read on for our review.

What Kind of Game is Evil Dead: The sport?

Evil Dead: The Game is definitely an asymmetrical multiplayer survival horror game, which is always a bit of a word-soup genre but is accompanied by the likes of heavy-hitter Dead by Daylight and other lesser titles like Friday the 13th.  Evil Dead’s main task in standing out of these games is quite simple – be as robust and fun as Dead by Daylight, while using the its franchise roots to create a unique, layered experience that doesn’t seem like cash-grab.

The game features melee and ranged combat in equal measures with characters and roles best suited to either, as well as supplies and support abilities.  The objective is simple – for Survivors, secure the Necronomicon and Kandarian Dagger, defeat the Dark Ones and banish the Demon player; for Demons, don’t let the Survivors complete their objective.  Demons is capable of their goals either by killing all of the players, or holding them off before the timer expires.  The Demon player may also possess Survivors if their fear meter is sufficient, which goes up when they encounter traps or have been in dark places, especially when separated in the group.

The Evil Dead franchise has plenty to savor if adapted to some video game, with a lot of gory fun, one-liners, and the main character who is incredibly iconic and is essentially Duke Nukem and Doomguy but hunts Deadites instead of aliens or demons.  He even loses his hand and grafts on the chainsaw while wielding a sawed-off shotgun within the other, creating a perfect video game action hero.  It also helps that there’s a variety of memorable, quotable supporting characters on top of star Ash Williams.  On paper, an Evil Dead game should be…groovy.

Hail towards the King, Baby

The game has no central plot, but rather a Missions mode that allows players to savor the sport solo whilst getting used to various mechanics and tactics when playing online.  It even features story elements and characters spread across many of the Evil Dead movies and also the show, including abridged retellings of Ash decapitating his possessed former girlfriend Linda, and a reverse Army of Darkness plot where it’s Lord Arthur delivered to the current, looking to go back home.  They are memorable by themselves and unlock all Ash Williams’ versions from over the franchise, as well as other key characters for use in multiplayer.

Dead Before Dawn

But, similar to with Ash, perhaps the best stories are the ones you know your pals about how you got out alive, even if they are available across as tall tales.  The structure of the central PvP combat that forms within the multiplayer, whether along with other players or bots, follows those of the series that you must locate and secure the Kandarian Dagger and Necronomicon, defeat the Dark Ones, and banish the Demons.  It’s quite thrilling to see how fast advantages can be formed, and how desperate the problem could be for the Survivors when faced with an experienced Demon player.  But is that this a reasonable experience to create itself from other asymmetrical horror games?

What helps this experience set itself aside from similar games in this subgenre is when it taps into its franchise roots.  Evil Dead happens to be gratuitously gory and it has the imprint of one of yankee cinema’s most celebrated minds in horror, Sam Raimi.  His influence is on strong display even in farmville, such as when you’re playing as a Demon but have yet to possess any deadites or lay any traps, where you move about freely across the map inside a rapid fashion, in a position to whip crazy quick turns and smash through obstacles.  It feels incredibly rewarding even just playing this, as you can essentially make your form of the chase camera sequences in the films and television show.

Playing as Survivors is fun too, as with accessory for collecting the objectives, you’ll be facing waves of deadites unleashed through the Demon player, and you’ll be equipped with ranged or melee weapons you'll find over the map.  The combat is gory, responsive, and satisfying. It’s focused on pistols, shotguns, and special weapons like the crossbow and sawgun, and also the melee weapons are rather equally viable inside a pinch.  They have the typical rarity and power scaling structure of multiplayer games nowadays – gray is common, blue is rare, purple is epic, and orange is legendary.  When you’ve got that legendary chainsaw, it’s incredibly satisfying to reduce formidable opponents faster than you are able to say “Fort Ticonderoga”.

The game might have been a cash-grab, however it feels highly authentic while still falling in to the genre nicely.  It leans nicely into the action elements permitting more active, chaotic moments akin more to Resident Evil: Resistance instead of Dead by Daylight, however with a much more stable online experience than the former, as long as you’re in a position to join a session.  While you develop your preferred character and face players who have similarly invested, the experience grows deeper and presents a greater challenge on either side, such as increased survivability or combat capabilities.

The Visuals

Evil Dead: The Game feels visually like what you’d expect of the franchise, with gloomy lighting and mimicking of Raimi’s signature cinematic style, and the enemy designs in particular pop.  Unfortunately, due to this as being a horror game, a few of the comedic visual aspects really are a bit lost in translation, but there are some genuine happy easter ! to remind longtime fans this game is for them as well.  This includes convincing renditions from the Knowby Cabin along with other locations from the franchise and little things like the Mini-Ashes from Army of Darkness that may occasionally burst from supply chests.

Additionally, if you’re fighting deadites spawned by the Warlord in particular, the gore effects are pretty great, to the point at which you can skyrocket elite enemies, and chunks of flesh will just be amazed with time.  It doesn’t have the same satisfying moments as a critical headshot from Resident Evil 4, but when you nail among the Finishing Attacks, you’re set for some gory, imaginative fun, especially if you prefer to use the meat cleaver or chainsaw.

The map of the game is varied in its locations, inspired by spots in the franchise, and filled with a great atmosphere, running butter-smooth on the next-gen consoles.  It’s simple to get quickly familiar with the map, but it’s also a relief that the objectives change locations randomly every time they’re played, otherwise sessions would start to feel repetitive.

There are particular shortcomings within the visuals department though.  The most glaring issue can be found in the character models for the Survivors, who even with voice lines, don’t have moving mouths to connect to the audio, thus leading to creepy doll faces on otherwise well-designed models.  This can be a shame too simply because they look rather convincingly like the characters from the franchise.  It simply feels weird not seeing Ash smirk while saying a dated one-liner, or even more life in Kelly’s eyes.  That said, the deadites look great, with all three armies looking rather close to how they were portrayed originally, with shouts out to the originals with those exaggerated white eyes, and the Eligos from Ash Vs. Evil Dead.

The Sound

Evil Dead: The Game renders atmosphere very well, and again the voice lines are among its strongest contributions.  The looping music from the main menu is certainly not short of annoying at times, but you’ll forget about it once you’re in a game session.  You’ll usually see yourself sold on the tension and dread, and become excited to battle from the deadites as you hear that classic, distorted scream.  The sound clips are effective and convincing, again best demonstrated when you’re conducting a violent, gory kill.

Particular moments that enhance the experience are scare traps laid by devious Demon players, including possessing trees to help you jolt inside your seat as you run by, simply to be whipped at by its sentient branches while hearing a ferocious growl.

The Issues

The main issues found in Evil Dead: The Game lies not within the style of the game – it feels pretty great to experience, missions are exciting yet challenging and reasonably replayable, and it seems like a fun experience to level your preferred characters for their greatest potential.  The problems lie largely in an overburdened network often turning eager players away, saying there are no servers available, or Demon players encountering the typical trouble with these kinds of games, so many people wanting to go ahead and take role, with only one slot per session.  It can result in some unbearably long waiting periods but it’s the kind of issue that doesn’t fundamentally break the game as long as it’s addressed with greater option of more players.

Again, as the game is largely a fitting tribute to the long-running franchise, a number of its spirit of it is lost for making the sport.  It’s not as funny because it is action-packed, which in itself isn't terrible, however it feels slightly less authentic as a result.  The one-liners uttered through the voice actors are in keeping with Evil Dead, but oftentimes the energy plays more like a prettier Dead By Daylight with oddly Fortnite elements in the map layout and storm radius functions such as in Homecoming King.  But it’s important to consider that this is the price of adapting the franchise into a game, and it still feels distinctive thanks to its roots and clever throwbacks, even if Shemp’s should be beer, not cola.

The Verdict

Evil Dead: The sport is a fun, varied horror experience with lots of challenges and depth, even if you not play as any from the 4 Ash variants.  The online service is frustrating when it’s busy or overburdened, but when you receive in on either side, you’ll be treated to a wild world that smacks of Sam Raimi’s style and atmosphere, even if it leans more about the horror side than the comedy.  But when you play as the Demon, you are able to transform it into a comedic experience, with antics such as possessing cars used by Survivors so that they can escape, leaving them stranded, when you drive the stolen car into a ditch.

It’s truly great teaming up characters such as the late Cheryl Williams, Lord Arthur, and Amanda Fisher with techniques that otherwise wouldn’t be possible, and it’s a session truly best enjoyed with friends, with promises more content on the horizon.  For that base retail cost, that’s half of exactly what a typical game applies to these days, Evil Dead: The Game is sufficient of value for your money, so shop smart.  And for players everywhere searching for a fun survival horror title, this one’s pretty groovy.

Evil Dead: The Game can be obtained let's focus on PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, and Series X|S.  A Nintendo Switch version continues to be announced and will release later on.  Be sure to take a look at our guides on the game!

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