Evil Dead: The Game is a faithful recreation, with several subtle and not-so-subtle nods to the iconic horror franchise. You may play as your favourite cast members, explore classic locations like The Knowby Cabin, wield boomsticks and chainsaw prostheses, fight off a possessed severed hand, and lead hordes of Deadites as the series’ adversary, the Kandarian Demon.
They even reproduced the first-person, off-axis camera effect popularised by Sam Raimi’s filmmaking approach. However, while these components add to the title’s fanfare, none of them make for a particularly strong video game, let alone one that stands out in a crowded genre.
Asymmetrical multiplayer games are fundamentally unbalanced, with one side presenting dramatically different views – and playstyles – than the other. And it’s because of this that my experience with Evil Dead has been so frustrating: the game is terribly one-sided for a game that is supposed to be about two sides. It’s also really imbalanced.
The principle of the game is simple: a group of four Survivors must activate the Necronomicon within 30 minutes to expel the Kandarian Demon, who is controlled by an opposing player. The Survivors, on the other hand, must address two issues:
The Necronomicon is missing pages, and the book is guarded by a gang of demonic wraiths known as The Dark Ones. As a result, the team’s main aim is to piece together a map that leads to the Kandarian Dagger and the Lost Pages of the Necronomicon, two of the franchise’s classic MacGuffins, and utilise them to win the game.
The purpose of the Kandarian Demon is to prevent these occurrences from occurring. By accumulating objects and skill points, all players gradually improve their skills during the game. However, because a levelling system locks away the demon’s key skills until later in the game, it feels less effective (and a touch monotonous) in the early game.
As a Survivor, you’ll take part in a co-op shooter with nail-biting horrors, strong gameplay, and intelligent light and darkness systems while fighting waves of zombies controlled by a single opposing player.
The ensemble of playable characters includes fan favourites including Henry The Red, Cheryl, Kelly Maxwell, and four different incarnations of protagonist Ash Williams, all of whom are played by the original film performers.
The performers’ performances are generally good, although they don’t sound like they were recorded in the same acoustic environment. It’s not a major issue, but it’s visible and occasionally takes me out of the experience.
As a Survivor, you must manage two systems in addition to the essentials like health, ammo, and shields, which you may get through scavenging abandoned areas. A rudimentary flashlight with a limited battery life is the first.
The lamp, of course, illuminates the route ahead, making it simpler to travel through gloomy areas, but it also identifies hidden goodies such as special ammunition that you would otherwise miss. This feature appeals to me since it challenges players to be meticulous in their light usage while also imposing penalties for draining the flashlight’s charge.
Because Survivors’ terror levels rise in the dark or away from friends, leaving them prone to demon possession and generating an intriguing cat-and-mouse game between them and the enemy player, you must be clever with your use of light.
With the appropriate allies, being a Survivor is fun; but, if you want to play as the lone big villain, the Kandarian Demon, I find it difficult to recommend Evil Dead: The Game. As the match’s antagonist, you choose one of three demon armies to command, then utilise their unique skills and soldiers to exterminate the Survivors’ squad or prevent their effort to exile you.
Electricity, telekinesis, and better possession are among the Puppeteer army’s specialties. The Warlord army, headed by Deadite Henrietta Knowby, excels in close combat using brutal force and noxious gas.
Finally, the Necromancer army is led by Evil Ash, a fan favourite enemy who specialises in summoning, boosting, and reviving fallen minions. Because each army has its own playstyle, it’s fun to experiment with different strategies.
In asymmetrical horror games, I usually prefer playing as the killer, but controlling the demon seems like commanding a domestic poltergeist knocking dishes down a shelf, whose presence is more of an annoyance than a towering sinister danger.
The gameplay cycle of the devil consists of long cooldowns, haphazardly building traps to terrify other players, and the boring process of flying about the landscape collecting energy orbs whenever an ability depletes your resources. Even though the battle should be intense in the conclusion, this results in an unusual amount of downtime.
The most enjoyable aspect of commanding the Kandarian Demon is carefully installing Deadite summoning portals to surprise unwary players or urge them to escape into the darkness, where their terror levels will swiftly rise.
Once a player is sufficiently terrified, you can control them and use shotguns, chainsaws, or whatever weapons they presently possess to wreak havoc on their friends. During these times, the game is at its finest.
Due to the minions’ thin health bars, your extremely severe ability cooldowns, and how simple it is for Survivors to flee the fight, the fun is typically short-lived (especially since you have to simultaneously collect energy orbs). To that reason, it’s aggravating to use energy on a nearby Deadite in order to attack a player, just to have it vanish.
At launch, Evil Dead: The Game includes two major maps, with a third, Castle Kandar from Army of Darkness, arriving as free DLC in the coming months. There are a few notable spots on the unidentified maps, such as The Knowby Cabin, Flight 666, and Misery Manor, but the most are uninteresting.
They are, nonetheless, attractive despite their lack of personality. Fog, lens debris, and blooming highlights are used in post-production to produce a film-like aspect that adds to the eerie atmosphere.
Evil Dead, despite its splendour, is unpolished. Player disconnections frequently cause characters to become stuck on seemingly level surfaces, objects to leak out of containers strangely, and matching lobbies to be disrupted. And a slew of tiny annoyances detract even more from the overall experience.
As the Kandarian Demon, you can, for example, possess automobiles for 100 energy. However, because you must deposit those resources while casting the ability, you won’t be able to drive the automobile if you only have the bare minimum of power, as the possession steadily depletes your energy bar.
As a result, you may expend all of your efforts acquiring an automobile, believing you’re going to gain a strategic edge, only to lose control shortly after. The game allows you to write checks that you are unable to cash, resulting in a terrible waste of time and money.
The good news is that most of my small complaints will be addressed in future patches, but the game is now an uneven mess. Saber Interactive’s dedication to fan service is admirable, and die-hard Evil Dead fans will love this instalment. For the rest of us, though, it’s difficult to imagine the appeal continuing.