Having Bruce Campbell back as Ash is fantastic, and the voice work and atmospheric music is excellent across the board. Good shit.
Everything here is very authentically Evil Dead, and Saber has evidently gone to great lengths to ensure this is a good-looking game.
Simple and straightforward objectives, intuitive gunplay and melee combat... there are few gripes to be had regarding how Evil Dead: The Game plays. The less said about the vehicle handling, however, the better. Melee encounters can also be a little messy at times.
It's a good job Saber took the time to add solo missions to Evil Dead, because if the game only offered 4v1 multiplayer, it'd feel pretty bare bones. Repetitive objectives don't particularly help either.
A pretty good spread of tasks, a fair bit of grinding, and some tongue-in-cheek achievements make for a decent enough list. Nothing for the game's solo missions, though.
May 17, 2022
The Evil Dead movies inhabit a special compartment in my head, one reserved for nasty images like pencil-in-the-ankle stabbings (shudder) and gloopy special effects that instantly became indelibly etched onto my brain. It's been a long time since I've watched The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, and Army of Darkness, but coming into Evil Dead: The Game feels immediately familiar, with developer Saber Interactive demonstrating a clear love for director Sam Raimi's knockabout horror series.
Ash, reunited with his trusty Oldsmobile.
Like Friday the 13th: The Game, Dead by Daylight, and, lest we forget, Evolve, Evil Dead: The Game is one of those asymmetrical 4v1 multiplayer titles, wherein four players assume the role of survivors, and one player is the monster, whose sole objective is to harass and kill the team. After a brief tutorial outlining the basics, you can dive in as a solo player with AI buddies battling an AI demon, or you can join a team of survivors against a player-controlled or AI foe. Survivors are tasked with locating three pieces of a map, before acquiring a Kandarian dagger and the Necronomicon (the book of the dead).
Once you've the necessary tools, the goal is to then vanquish the demons, protect the book, and expel the evil once and for all. It all hangs together well enough, but one thing becomes quite apparent after playing a few matches: it's exceedingly difficult to win as the demon. Where survivors can scour abandoned shacks, houses, garages, and what not for weapons, health-replenishing shemp’s cola, shielding amulets, and matchsticks for lighting fires to expel your growing fear, the evil presence whizzes around the map in first person (as it does in the movies), collecting beating hearts to gain points, which can be exchanged to possess things.
As the demon, you can possess individual members of your Deadite army, possess cars, trees, or even temporarily possess player characters. You can also set traps to ramp up your opponents' fear level, which doesn't really amount to much, beyond the occasional daft screaming monster superimposed onto the screen for a couple of seconds, seemingly meant to create a jump scare. The push and pull of a match can be enjoyable, but it's not long before the set menu of objectives starts to wear a little thin. The game's maps are also quite expansive, so you'll spend quite a lot of time running across long distances, unless you find a vehicle to drive.
Vehicle handling is utterly dreadful, however, so more often than not the driver will end up turning the car over on a boulder or nosediving it into a ravine, leaving any passengers stranded. The real fun in Evil Dead is to be found in the gloriously grisly combat, which offers seamless wielding of guns and melee weapons, so you can blow heads off with a shotgun, revolver, crossbow, and so on, then switch things up with a sword, axe, spear, hammer, baseball bat, machete, or whatever, when you're besieged by a crowd of enemies.
Kudos to Saber for also delivering some truly excellent gore, befitting the Evil Dead franchise, with limbs flying, hunks of flesh being stripped from bodies, and jets of arterial red flying left, right, and centre. Chip away an enemy's health, and you can also unleash a finishing move, momentarily zooming in on the action, as you liberate a Deadite's head from its shoulders in gleefully bombastic fashion. This is all part and parcel of Saber's playful approach to Evil Dead: The Game, in keeping with the dark comedy and excessive blood-drenched horror of the films – tonally, it's dead-on.
"Anyone seen my girlfriend's severed head?"
There's more direct homage to be found in the game's five single-player Missions, which take key sequences from each of the movies, and turn them into compact, objective-based segments. For instance, the first Mission has you digging up Linda's head, and taking it to the shed to destroy it. Fans of the films and the Ash vs. Evil Dead TV series are well served here, although Missions can prove to be frustrating, with no mid-session saves or checkpoints, meaning failure sends you right back to the beginning of the map to start over. As enjoyable as the Evil Dead solo Missions are, they do feel like something of an afterthought, and would prove infinitely more palatable with checkpoints or mid-mission save states.
Still, the single-player component and character progression systems make Evil Dead: The Game feel like a complete package, offering something for pretty much everyone. And there are plenty of options for playing the game's core 4v1 experience alongside and against AI bots, so you can get to grips with the objectives and mechanics before jumping online, if you like. As a 4v1 multiplayer experience, Evil Dead: The Game covers all of the requisite bases, but the balance is slightly askew, making achieving victory as the Kandarian demon remarkably tough; and the game's solitary match type can grow a mite stale after a while. As a foundation and platform to grow and develop, however, Evil Dead: The Game has a lot to offer from the outset, but how groovy you'll find it all really depends on how much you love all things Evil Dead.