With Evil Dead: The Game, Saber Interactive is once again aiming to prove its multiplayer horror chops it showed off with World War Z, and manages to perfectly capture the vibe of a horror franchise, for better or worse.
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For those of you who are studiously devoted to the Evil Dead series, there’s so much to enjoy once you load up Evil Dead: The Game. It’s positively packed with Easter eggs, obscure characters, and scenes stripped right from the films. Even Ash vs. Evil Dead gets the love it wholeheartedly deserves, with new characters Pablo and Kelly serving as a welcomed breath of fresh air to an uneven roster that features not one, but five versions of Ash. Of course, this is what you came for. Bruce Campbell is a damned charismatic fella, and things are no different here.
If you have no real affinity towards Sam Raimi or his purposefully hokey brand of gory horror, Evil Dead: The Game is harder to recommend. At its core, it is a very solid 4v1 co-op horror experience. In its quest to capture the look and feel of the films however, Evil Dead: The Game can feel messy, chaotic, and extremely difficult to read.
It’s often hopelessly dull to spend any part of a review talking about a game’s many systems, but with Evil Dead: The Game, there’s layer upon layer of mechanics that feel dizzying at first sight. Playing as the Survivors, players will need to complete objectives, with the hope of banishing the demon. There are areas to loot, and enemies to kill on the way.
A fear meter is an ever-present thorn in your side, climbing whenever you stray too far from the team, encounter scare traps placed by the demon, or when you take damage. When fear reaches a certain point, the opposing player can take control of your character, weapons and all, and turn on your teammates. Oh, and you need to manage a flashlight, armour and even long-term character upgrades.
Matchsticks are used to light fires that quell fear for a time, and there are consumable items that can be spent to buff your character for that game. Map pieces must be found, a dagger is used to kill off a group of super-powerful demigods, and then you end up defending the Necronomicon against waves of enemies.
In short, it is a hell of a lot to take in. Matches of Evil Dead: The Game pretty much always feel like desperate marches towards certain death. Honestly, there’s very little between a win and a loss, and almost every game feels scrappy and chaotic. Because of this, individual matches don’t have all that much character. You trudge through dingy forests, drive cars from objective to objective, and mash the melee button until the dead stop coming, or until they pummel you into the ground.
Individual characters can be levelled up, as can the three armies of demons at the disposal of the Kandarian Demon. There are even missions to play through, each taking an iconic Evil Dead moment and letting you take the helm. Evil Dead: The Game is an uneven package, and one that is extremely daunting for new players. The tutorial does its best, but you’ll likely need to play upwards of five matches before you’ve even worked out the basics. If you’re looking to play the game, make sure you play the Demon tutorial in addition to the mandatory survivor one. Not only does it contextualise your actions while playing as a Survivor, it also does a better job at explaining the fear system.
So far, this only covers one half of the multiplayer experience. Much like controlling Jason in 2013’s Friday the 13th, taking control of the Kandarian Demon is a completely different can of worms when compared to the simpler action leanings of the Survivor-focused gameplay.
I doubt most players will ever play as the demon for more than a few tries, while some will log on each day to gleefully terrorise a team of opposing players. As you guide a disembodied Hell-demon through the woods, it genuinely feels like you’re being directed by Raimi. The camera is extremely difficult to control, seemingly more focused on mirroring the director’s particular blend of snap-zooms, wild tilts and swaying movements.
There’s a fairly long-tail to the progression in Evil Dead: The Game. As you upgrade Survivors and demons alike, you drastically improve your chances of success. Problem is, matches really aren’t all that deep. You have to play a hell of a lot to level up, and with games feeling so similar, things get old fairly quickly. Playing as the demon is absolutely the highlight of the two multiplayer options. You can have a lot of fun setting up enemy traps, jump-scaring players and possessing cars to run them down.
So who exactly is Evil Dead: The Game for? It lacks the depth of Dead By Daylight, but is undeniably a great time with a group of friends. Evil Dead fans will get a huge kick out of the sheer volume of homages and straight-up recreations of classic scenes. If you can get four friends together, or better yet five, with one controlling the demon, there are few games that can top the fun to be had.
Evil Dead: The Game is a must-play for Raimi-heads, but is more difficult to recommend for others. Its Survivor modes are chaotic, with a steep learning curve. Playing as the Demon is the highlight here, and if you can get a group of pals together, this horror 4v1 is a hell of a lot of fun.
- Absolute treat for Raimi fans
- Five Ash variants
- Demon mode is an absolute blast
- Great with a group of friends
- Chaotic matches that feel same-y
- Too many systems
- Controlling the Demon can be difficult
- Environment is tricky to read and navigate