Prior to this Evil Dead: The Game review, Evil Dead: Hail to the King was one of the many titles in the pantheon of tank-horror games in our big Resi-like feature. It may not have been a great game for most people, but it was a faithful and accurate scenario that captures the essence of having to be the hapless hero from the Evil Dead movies.
The Evil Dead franchise has always been a fertile property for a video game adaptation. Some of the prior efforts can be generously described as “hit or miss”, but no matter what; they always strove to be single-player endeavors. Horror games have found new life in multiplayer circuits, emphasizing on asymmetrical gameplay that has been popularized by Left 4 Dead and Dead by Daylight.
Evil Dead: The Game takes pages from several playbooks of successful asymmetrical multiplayer action games and makes something that is very distinctly Evil Dead-like. Will this have long legs to become an enduring multi-player experience? How does the single-player mode hold up? Find out in this Evil Dead: The Game review!
Evil Dead: The Game
Developer: Boss Team Games
Publisher: Saber Interactive
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch (release TBA), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S (reviewed)
Release Date: May 13, 2022
Players: 1-5 (online)
Price: $39.99 USD
Evil Dead: The Game makes a very strong first impression. The visuals are not only very impressive for a modestly produced project, but the gameplay is much more polished than a movie tie-in ought to be. This is a far cry from the ramshackle Friday the 13th: The Game that came out.
Every iteration of Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams is represented and the attention to detail impresses. Details in 1981’s Ash, such as his preppy-boy hair cut and young face have been painstakingly realized. The dumpiness of old Ash from the TV show is accurate and on model; as well as the placement of the cuts and scars on the face of on Army of Darkness Ash.
Evil Dead: The Game is primarily a multiplayer experience, so there is an Ash for every occasion. Players can opt to focus on assuming the role of one of four classes. Ash from 81 is support style and leans in helping other players. 1987 Ash gets bonuses and perks for gunplay, while his 1992 iteration is all melee focused and 2015 Ash is a “leader” class which focuses on party buffs and balanced stats.
These movies (and the show) had a big cast of characters and many of them were almost as enjoyable as Ash himself. The four classes are rounded out with other characters standing in just in case players don’t want to be in a party of four Ash Williams (like that will ever happen).
Fan favorites like King Arthur and Henry the Red from Army of Darkness make the cut and have ridiculous lines of dialogue that will melt the hearts of fans. There is also a delicious perverse enjoyment of making these medieval warriors drive around crappy Oldsmobiles or carrying chainsaws.
Every character featured in Evil Dead: The Game not only has accurate visual representation, but their classes also match their personality too. Ed in Evil Dead II was an aggressive dude and in The Game, he proved to be a formidable warrior class. There was a lot of thought put into each character’s class designation.
Sadly, there is no representation for the 2013 Evil Dead remake. This is disappointing because Mia was an interesting character and that film introduced a lot of lore and new ideas to the series that would have translated well into this game. That film also had its own unique take on a demon which would have helped add more variety to playing as the deadites.
Playing as evil in Evil Dead: The Game is challenging. The odds can be in the player’s favor as the forces of evil, but there is an element of luck at play too. As a demon, the player’s gameplay is a semi-real time strategy where they can possess units and set traps. POV is in first person or “Raimi-vision” and can roam the map unimpeded.
While in this mode, the player must scour the map for red orbs to spend on various actions. A good demon player will not only have to have a good idea of each permutation of the areas that get randomly shuffled, but also must be strategic with their actions and understand the best way to increase the survivor’s fear.
What makes being evil so difficult is when up against four survivors who understand the importance of communication and can fetch all the pages and dagger efficiently; the deadites won’t stand a chance. Where luck comes into play is when players are lucky enough to find a powerful weapon.
Survivors’ combat prowess is not that different than the gameplay from a Dark Souls game. Light and heavy attacks are mapped to the right bumper and trigger and there is stamina to manage as well. Dodging functions very similarly too and weapons even come in several types.
Even the lowly support characters who have the worst stats can fend for themselves effectively. The warrior class with maxed out melee stats and when equipped with a rare drop weapon can effectively solo Evil Ash who is supposed to be the most devastating melee boss that the forces of evil has to offer. It isn’t easy being evil.
The upside to being evil is that the longer the matches go on, the more power they gain. Deadite players will be able to unleash utter hell upon the survivors with some extremely high level monsters and wailing on them with ever-resurrecting bosses.
This rising power dynamic ensures that matches won’t go on for too long and puts the pressure on survivors to stay focused on the task at hand. The drawback to all this is it severely limits Evil Dead: The Game‘s variety. There is not much else in multiplayer outside of these main goals.
There needed to be more ideas; modes where a single survivor has to endure a gauntlet and defend a single cabin from four other players who play as evil. There could have been other stages like a S-Mart-esque super market or even settings inspired by past Evil Dead games.
Thankfully, Evil Dead: The Game does have a set of single player missions, but they are very limited and not terribly creative. These were made within the very restrictive parameters of what the multi-player mode is made of and it disappoints because there is a very solid foundation to build off of.
Each mission has players control a preset character (usually one of the Ash variants) and they merely have to follow the onscreen prompts to complete each mission. One has old Ash run around an open map to collect beer and fight deadites at each point, another mission is a semi-recreation of the events of Evil Dead II.
All cutscenes are expressed with static (though beautifully painted) illustrations with text. All assets are repurposed content from the multiplayer mode, and players can’t select who to play as. There are no checkpoints, which can be frustrating and time consuming because although there are only a handful of these, they can be extremely difficult.
Completing these single player missions is necessary in order to unlock some extra characters. King Arthur is one of the main unlockables and is well worth the headache, and also serves as a badge of honor when playing online.
In its current state of this review, Evil Dead: The Game is sorely lacking content and variety, but it does have a lot of potential. A medieval inspired stage called Castle Kandar is going to be included in a future update and who knows; maybe the 2013 remake might get represented one day. There needs to be more fleshed out single player material and different modes for sure.
Can Evil Dead: The Game be as big as the Dead by Daylight juggernaut? If the developers maintain a steady pace of substantial updates and additions that keeps the game interesting, Evil Dead: The Game could easily usurp the pretender.
Evil Dead: The Game was reviewed on Xbox Series S using a copy provided by Saber Interactive. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Evil Dead: The Game is now available for Windows PC (via Epic Games), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.