by June 9, 2022 @ 5:30 pm
Reviewed on Xbox Series S
“Gimme some sugar, baby.”
“Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.”
“This… is my boomstick!”
And of course, “Groovy.”
The Evil Dead franchise is one of the most quotable film and TV series of all time. There’s no shortage of great one-liners from Ashley J. Williams and company. Aside from the memorable lines, though, Evil Dead also treats its fans to an excellent cast of protagonists and villains. Last but not least, the series’ signature blood and gore is among the many reasons why these movies (and TV show) rule.
Naturally, Evil Dead: The Game had a lot to live up to. There have been a few games set in the Evil Dead universe, and even Dead by Daylight dabbled with some fun crossover goodness, but with Evil Dead: The Game, the stakes felt much higher. Not only did this game have some big shoes to fill — it also had a pair of brown pants and a signature blue button-up to fill.
And you know what? Evil Dead: The Game totally knocks it out of the park. The it here being a demonic Deadite head, of course.
Ash vs. Evil Dead
Evil Dead: The Game doesn’t take too many risks in terms of its general gameplay concept. This is a four-versus-one multiplayer title akin to the aforementioned Dead by Daylight. The game takes cues from Friday the 13th: The Game, too, offering a heavier emphasis on completing multiple objectives.
But that’s where the similarities end, because at their core, both Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th: The Game are about figuring out how to escape the map. Evil Dead: The Game is more about fighting back against the minions of hell. You’re at a slight disadvantage for sure, but you’ve got more of a fighting chance compared to other similar horror multiplayer games.
As the survivor, you’ll have to collect three pieces of a map, followed by one page of the Necronomicon (the Book of the Dead) and the Kandarian Dagger. When you collect the page and dagger, you’ll have to defend the area for a short period as Deadites spawn and try to derail your progress.
Once you collect the necessary items, you’ll face off against the Dark Ones, malevolent beings bent on taking over humanity. This will require you to simply hold down the Y button as you avoid the Dark Ones’ attacks. After you’ve defeated the Dark Ones, you’ll then have to protect the Necronomicon itself. This is when the enemy player will spawn all kinds of Deadites and big baddies. If they kill your entire team of heroes or destroy the book, you lose. If, however, you fend them off for the allotted period of time, you’ll vanquish hell’s minions… for now.
Though your main objective is to survive and collect everything you need, there are different classes in Evil Dead: The Game that will make your approach vary slightly. Leaders provide buffs for their teammates. Warriors deal heavy damage and act as tanks. Hunters can use long-range weapons effectively. And the Support class is able to provide heals and reduce their teammates’ fear levels.
Dead by Dawn! Dead by Dawn!
If you’re playing as the villainous Deadite clan in Evil Dead: The Game, you’ll approach rounds very aggressively. You’ll go around collecting orbs that allow you to use abilities. Though major abilities vary, each enemy class in the game can summon armies of Deadites, possess survivors whose fear levels have increased, control weak and strong Deadites, and set traps.
Leading the Necromancer class is Evil Ash from Army of Darkness, who can suck life from survivor players and is an effective melee character. The gruesome Henrietta from Evil Dead II is in charge of the Warlord class, which is all about dealing heavy damage with both melee and area-of-effect attacks. The Puppeteer class comes from Ash vs. Evil Dead and uses telekinesis and energy-based attacks. These units can even self-destruct upon being defeated by Ash and pals.
It can be challenging playing as the Deadites, but it’s definitely rewarding taking down those pesky survivors. Unlike other similar horror multiplayer games, Evil Dead: The Game gives the good guys more tools and chances to push back against the bad guys. This can make playing as the Deadites a little trickier, and it definitely takes time to learn how to play as these characters effectively. Once you get it, though, it’s a lot of fun.
Serviceable Solo Content
There have been a few Evil Dead games released in the past, and they’ve all attained different levels of acclaim. The main draw in Evil Dead: The Game is easily its multiplayer component. That said, it features a set of solo missions that are surprisingly fun — certainly not perfect, but still entertaining.
Missions follow different playable characters from the Evil Dead franchise. You’ll revisit locations and scenarios from the movies and show, as well as experience some fun, new moments exclusive to Evil Dead: The Game.
Admittedly, part of me wishes the game had a fully realized single player campaign, because the mechanics and character abilities could lend themselves to a new Evil Dead adventure. Even then, what’s here works well enough. Though you should be warned, these single player missions can get tough. But on the plus side, beating them rewards you with new characters and unlocks.
Gory Sights and Sounds
I’m playing Evil Dead: The Game on Xbox Series S, and it looks solid overall. Environments are detailed and character models are fairly accurate. There are times when performance stutters just a little, but it’s never anything that ruins the overall gameplay experience. In addition, though I like the game’s graphics, some character models do look a tad off.
Outside of the technical specs, though, Evil Dead: The Game features all of the blood and gore the series is known for. Whether you’re blasting Deadites away with your boomstick, whacking them upside the head with a blunt object, or taking a chainsaw to them, you’ll see blood spraying every which way. It’s visceral yet damn near cartoon-y, and it’s right in line with what fans of the series have come to expect, know, and love from their favorite band of Deadite slayers.
The voice work is solid, too, with cast members returning to voice their roles from the movies and TV shows. Not everyone from the archives of the Evil Dead universe returned for the game, and the volume for some of the voice clips sounds a little low, but there’s still plenty of fan service, with memorable voices and one-liners heard throughout.
The game’s music isn’t too varied, but there are some pretty good themes in Evil Dead: The Game. Some of them are meant to get you pumped while fighting Deadites, while other themes are slower, creepier compositions that play on when you’re all alone. Overall, the music here, while certainly not too deep, does a pretty good job.
Making a Good Evil Dead Game in 2022
I love Evil Dead, so when Evil Dead: The Game was announced, I was excited. Sure, there was no telling whether the game would be great or even good, but I was cautiously optimistic and trusted that folks like the awesome Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, and Ray Santiago would put their names on something of quality — and they absolutely did.
There have been Evil Dead games on the Commodore 64, PS2, Xbox, and even mobile devices. Video game industry trends have changed drastically since the releases of those games. As such, there was no telling how a new Evil Dead title would fare. It turns out the best formula for developer Saber Interactive and publisher Boss Team Games was keeping things simple.
Evil Dead: The Game works because it doesn’t try to do too much, and it stays close to the source material. The fan service is off the charts and helps make this title feel like it belongs in the franchise. The flow of play is also very logical: If you’re a survivor, you collect key items from the movies and fight Deadites, and if you’re a Deadite, you kill and possess the humans.
Ultimately, Evil Dead: The Game succeeds because of its enjoyable gameplay format and trueness to the series. It’s a little janky in spots and there are only a couple maps available at this time, but the flow of the game is a great deal of fun and will get you hooked. Granted, if you’re not into these types of multiplayer horror games, you might have your fill after just a few rounds. But if you enjoy games like Dead by Daylight and like the very specific gameplay loop offered here, you’ll find that Evil Dead: The Game is pretty rad.
Score: 8 out of 10
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