In the arena of asymmetrical horror games, players have had the delight of enjoying what Friday the 13th: The Game and Dead by Daylight have had to offer for a good while, but if you’ve been waiting for something more gruesome to pop out, Saber Interactive and Boss Team Games’ Evil Dead: The Game not only delivers on the fan service, but also the moment-to-moment gameplay that makes it bloody awesome.
The setup is straightforward, pitting a team of survivors against a Kandarian demon, with the former hoping to defeat evil by sealing a demonic breach, while the latter just wants to spill blood. Yet, the key difference in Evil Dead: The Game is that on both sides, there is much fun to be had, while keeping the action coming in thick and fast.
As survivors, it becomes much less of a luck game when you actually have the means to fight back. Deadites, skeletons, and other things that go bump in the night might have the sheer numbers, but players have an impressive arsenal to level the playing field. No longer is there a need to cower and hide when evil comes knocking, with this terror siphoning off some of the tension of its contemporaries for a more direct approach.
Even if the team cannot communicate, the clarity of what needs to be done helps tremendously, aided by an excellent ping system that makes coordination that much easier. Just watch out for those fear levels, and keep to the light as much as possible.
On the demonic side in Evil Dead: The Game, things take on a more fine-tuned approach that does not lessen the excitement. At your disposal are powers, traps, and summons, powered by collecting the many spirit orbs found around the map. Once you have located the survivors, the strategic fun begins as you lay down traps, scare the living daylights out of them, and sic your army of darkness on them.
If you happen to cause enough fear in a survivor, possessing them to cause more havoc amongst the survivors is always an option. And with the survivors being tough adversaries, the balance is quite delicately achieved, resulting in satisfying enjoyment regardless of which side you find yourself on, with aggressiveness particularly encouraged.
Of course, it would all probably work less well if not for the fact that Evil Dead: The Game wears its source material so prominently on its sleeves. From Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams, to the rest of the cast, the various references and scenes, to even the general presentation, everything is presented as the most endearing love letter to ‘80s horror and everything else that comes along with it.
The game itself does not look half bad either, with the lighting dovetailing perfectly with the environments to create an asymmetrical horror experience that is simply top of its class. It might be dangerous to stop and stare, but do take a moment every once in a while to enjoy the visuals that are on show, it is well worth the risk.
While the multiplayer aspect of Evil Dead: The Game is as groovy as they come, the inclusion of a single-player portion that ties into unlocking new characters does seem strange and ill-advised. Instead of the exhilaration provided by the team-based affair, these sections are often draggy and too challenging to make sense, with the lack of checkpoints likely to cause a few burst heads.
The incentives of characters like King Arthur or even Pablo from the latest show are enticing, but to gate them off in these single-player slogs is simply not the way to go. Even at just five missions, it can be pretty painful to endure them.
To continue in the vein of bad news, Evil Dead: The Game does have some issues it has to deal with when it comes to longevity. Currently, there are only two maps for survivors and demons alike to romp through, and that could be a big problem once players get familiar with the different points of interest and objectives. It is not a problem with new players streaming in, but having more variety is going to help keep the community alive.
The slightly clunkier movement of the survivors might also be a sticking point for some, with the environment often becoming more of an obstacle than it should be. Characters can get stuck on small obstacles that should be easily cleared with a jump, but Evil Dead: The Game does not have that functionality. Dying to the Deadites because of that can be an unpleasant experience, as is the inconsistency of button prompts that may or may not register when interacting with the world.
Nevertheless, Evil Dead: The Game is ironclad proof that there is still plenty of life in this particular genre. Rather than making things overly complicated, the directness and simplicity of how the game guides its players is much welcomed, especially if you suddenly find yourself matched up to relative veterans who have spent dozens of hours in the game. Whether you are collecting important items or if there is something in need of your immediate attention, the game is clear and concise, all while delivering that trademark campiness of the franchise.
It may not be causing waves like big blockbuster games, but Evil Dead: The Game succeeds in delivering an experience that is the best of its kind, enjoyable for most players, and pleasantly unmissable for fans of a horror icon.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
An asymmetrical horror game that balances accessibility and paying homage to its source material, Evil Dead: The Game is a ruthlessly entertaining time whether you are saving the day or ruining it for everyone.
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Story - 8/10
Presentation - 9.5/10
Value - 9/10