Ash is back with his boomstick in Evil Dead: The Game.
The past decade has been pretty good for Evil Dead fans. Between the 2013 film reboot, the well-received Starz television show Ash vs. Evil Dead, and the announcement of a new video game, Sam Raimi’s horror-comedy franchise is alive and kicking. In fact, the franchise has thrived more in the past ten years since its resurrection than in the 1980s and 1990s.
As fans are aware, Evil Dead has pivoted from the original’s low-budget horror to low-budget horror-comedy in Army of Darkness. The reboot leaned more in the direction of a serious horror film on a higher budget of $17 million (the original movie had a $375,000 budget, which even with inflation only came in at slightly over $1 million USD in 2013). The Starz TV show moved back in the direction of horror-comedy.
Evil Dead: The Game is decidedly less comedic than the television show. Fittingly, you can play characters from both the films and TV show as you fight to survive against the forces of darkness. The game features the voice of Bruce Campbell as well as the likenesses of the franchise’s most important characters. From Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo) and Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago) to Lord Arthur (Richard Grove), they all look like what you would expect.
Evil Dead: The Game has both single-player options and multiplayer options. First, I want to focus on the asymmetrical multiplayer since that is the heart of the game. You play as one of four survivors working as a team to banish the Kandarian Demon. Or if you like to play boss, you can control the Kandarian demon in its quest to kill the good guys.
There are four different classes of survivors, each with its own active and passive ability. The leader is focused on buffering their team; warriors act as a tank as they have higher health; hunters deal more damage with ranged weapons; support characters heal while removing negative status effects of teammates. Honestly, you could play as a hunter and still use melee weapons, but having a balanced team seems to help.
Playing a survivor, each match starts with your team looking for three pieces of the map. Since you are spawned randomly, the game tells you the general area of each map piece. So if you just go to the corresponding area of the map, you are sure to find it without too much difficulty.
Before you do that, though, you will want to gear up as you start the game without any weapons or items. Cabins are the best place to find weapons, health (Shemp Cola), and amulets (shields). These are scattered throughout the map and connected via dirt roads that you can drive on with vehicles. Over short distances, it’s easier to just walk since trees obstruct cars except along the narrow roads. However, you’ll want to get behind the wheel to reach longer distances.
After you find the pieces of the map, your next goals are to collect the lost pages of the Necronomicon and the Kandarian Dagger. Throughout this, the Kandarian Demon will try to thwart your plans, spawning an army of darkness in the form of skeletons and other vile creatures. Collecting the lost pages of the Necronomicon and the Kandarian Dagger requires you to hold a specific area of the map for a certain amount of time.
If at least one member of your team survives, you’ll then need to defeat the Dark Ones and defend the Book of the Dead all while the Kandarian Demon continues to throw all it’s got at you. Oh, and you have to do all of this within a thirty-minute time limit. If you succeed, you’ll close the portal and save humanity from eternal torture.
As a survivor, teamwork is essential. Anyone who goes off on their own is far more likely to die than teammates who stick together. So stick with your team as much as possible. It’s also critical that you revive teammates before they die or else you will find yourself fighting the demon alone. Just as you can upgrade your characters, the demon gets stronger as well. So losing a teammate is a big deal.
If you’re wondering, yes, you can wield a chainsaw and boomstick. The game has 25 different weapons in total with a good variety of melee as well as ranged weapons. Slice up some Deadites with a sword or just go with a reliable old-fashioned pistol. It’s up to you how you want to play.
If you play as the Kandarian Demon, your goal is much simpler: you need to stop the survivors from completing all of their goals. Even though your basic goal is just to stop the survivors from completing their own goals within the time limit, you have a decent variety of means to accomplish this.
You can do this in a number of ways, but the primary way is to unleash waves of Deadites at the survivors. In addition, you can possess objects like trees and vehicles, Deadites, and even players (although you will need to upgrade this ability first). However, the game prevents you from spamming your abilities so as to keep the match balanced.
Arguably, the Kandarian Demon is more challenging as you are relying on the AI-controlled Deadites to deal most of the damage. Still, it’s entertaining to set up traps and watch them go off on unsuspecting survivors. If you don’t play well with others, this is probably the way to go since you do not have any teammates to worry about.
In addition to matches where you have four human survivors and one human Kandarian Demon, you can also play as a group of four human survivors against an AI-controlled Kandarian Demon. Prefer to play alone entirely? You can team up with three computer-controlled survivors to take on a computer-controlled Kandarian Demon. Lastly, you can set up a private match. So you have options!
If you get bored of the multiplayer, Evil Dead: The Game also comes with various story-driven missions that draw inspiration from the films and TV show. These missions are all solo. So it is great for re-living some of your favorite moments from the franchise.
Evil Dead: The Game is an interesting take on asymmetrical multiplayer where you can either team up as survivors or try to wipe them out as a demon. It has some annoyances like frustrating driving mechanics and fairly repetitive gameplay, but it gives you plenty of freedom to play how you want.
Overall, Evil Dead fans are likely to enjoy this game. Newcomers will likely still find it entertaining while getting tired of the same repeated formula after a few hours. The single-player missions mix things up a bit, but you have to unlock them first.
Game Freaks 365 received a free review copy.