Evil Dead: The Game Review

Dredging up 80s horror movie franchises and remoulding them into PVP and PVE multiplayer videogame experiences, is a deliciously gruesome concept rife with sumptuous scares and spooks sending devils and demons knocking at your door as drips of dread cascade down your back. 2017’s Friday The 13th lit this foreboding spark with a delectable co-op fright-fest, receiving moderate commendations from fans and critics alike, opening up a promising gateway for more horror film franchise mutations to enter the thrillingly horrific multiplayer games arena. Five years later, The Evil Dead has arrived courtesy of Saber Interactive and Boss Team Games, but has The Evil Dead bitten off more than it can chew, or is it destined to be a devoured corpse?

Evil Dead fans rejoice, as they can bask in the adulation of playing a modern videogame based on the beloved film franchise-but there’s a catch. This horror title blandly called “Evil Dead: The Game”, is a team-based asynchronous multiplayer experience, joining the litany of similar games on the market such as Dead By Daylight. Sadly, The Evil Dead puts more attention into the heaviness of its chainsaw wielding, as well as the return of original actors Bruce Campbell and Dana DeLorenzo, playing Ash Williams and Kell Maxwell respectively, than it does making itself stand apart from its forebears.

 When it comes to its PVP/PVE aspects, The Evil Dead does a fine job. There are two main multiplayer modes, where you can buddy up with three other players to either stop evil in its menacing tracks playing as survivors, who are the heroes of the film franchise, or you can choose to bound about levels as spirits controlled by the Kandarian Demon, who can possess bodies to fight the survivors, preventing them from vanquishing your brood. In addition, you can opt to battle against an A.I controlled demon or head in solo with A.I controlled teammates to dispatch of an A.I controlled demon-so it’s not like you have to play with others to survive.

As survivors you need to run around collecting artefact manuscript pages found in random areas of the map, as well as a knife of the Necronomicon in order to banish the encroaching infestation of demons from chewing you and your brethren alive, and putting the dagger in the heart of the Kandarian Demon. Demented souls will pour out of portals and blindside you, so you need to be well-equipped by scavenging nearby houses for supplies whilst keeping an eye on the Fear meter, as a timid survivor is no use to his teammates and no use to you.

There are upgrade enhancements you can dole out as you see fit, giving you boosts to health, melee combat, fear, stamina and shield. Further enhancements can be made by navigating to the Collection menu, where you can assign points to a litany of skills such as increased effectiveness for various weapons and reducing your fear from any source. Each hero has his or her own separate skill tree but the skills themselves aren’t distinctive from the rest of the cast, making the desire to play as all the heroes uninteresting and samey.

Where The Evil Dead almost blasts out of its mediocrity is with its combat. Brandishing the games devilish weaponry by giving them a hearty swing at your demonic foes is quite gratifying if you connect, as you can really feel the sense of heft and momentum of every single blow. Trouble is, this makes for lumbering combat, as its slowness coupled with quick and unpredictable rank and file who can blindside you out of nowhere, means you’re always heaving at your enemies in a punch-drunk manner, which can be very frustrating when you’re surrounded by the blighters.

Finishers are gratifyingly grotesque though. After a few swipes at an enemy, you can press a button prompt to unleash a sickening finisher, where claret soaks the screen and the mutilated body parts of your victim, which is sadistically brutal when you witness them. Granted, not all prompts appear when the opponent can be successfully finished, meaning you can deal significant punishment and still these freaks withstand punishment, so they aren’t always the death-dealers they should be. Also those big red health meters make dispatching of enemies seem like an unwanted grind.

The arsenal of weapons at your disposal are powerful and unrelenting tools of evisceration. Melee implements of death including Axes, sledgehammers, chainsaws, knives, swords and nailed bats allow you to get down, dirty and caked in viscera. Then on the ranged side you got magnums, rifles, crossbows and the greatest silence-maker of all-the almighty shotgun. Suffices to say there are plentiful options for you to maim, bludgeon and brutalize, leaving you with no shortage of ways to get the job done.  

What may stick in your craw the most about The Evil Dead, is the repetition of every encounter. You always start off by searching for pages, finding the dagger and then banishing the evil by utilizing a Ghostbusters-style proton pack-but there’s never any variation or deviation from these objectives, meaning the game spreads itself way too thinly. Yes, you can hop into a car and drive across the map to make completing objectives a tad less slow, but there isn’t enough meat on the bones here to satiate ardent co-op enthusiasts.

 Several unforgiving and poorly bolted on story missions sprinkled on top to give The Evil Dead some depth, that retell stories from main character Ash’s past, giving you a huge dark and gritty area to explore, whilst you continually find yourself harassed by demons. This mode could’ve benefitted from co-op implementation, but it is at least somewhat commendable that there is a little single-player love in this otherwise multiplayer-only endeavour.

 The Evil Dead does a splendiferously grim job of capturing the 80s slasher flicks with formidable attention to detail. The dark foreboding forests and eerie settlements evoke a sense of loneliness and vulnerability, echoing the dread of the films well, though there’s not enough going on environmentally to make you feel you’re experiencing anything new. All buildings you come across are only meant for picking up supplies, they don’t serve any greater purpose, which deprives The Walking Dead of intrigue that could’ve propelled it above averageness.

The faithfulness to which The Evil Dead chooses to present itself is certainly worthy of applause. There’s clearly a lot of love that has gone into making the game an authentic Evil Dead experience whether it’s through its disquieting soundtrack, the diversified traits of the characters, or the minor story segments – The Evil Dead certainly achieves an atmosphere that pays homage to itself in a compelling and praiseworthy way.

Conclusion

Not a belting success nor a show stopping flop, Evil Dead: The Game is buried in a misty purgatory that it can’t shake itself out of. The atmosphere is potent, the combat is visceral and strong despite its heaviness, and there’s certainly a good potential for multiplayer pleasures here. But much like the characters’ clothing, sweat-dabbled skin and blood-soaked exteriors, The Evil Dead can start to stink of the same old formulaic multiplayer games we’ve played before. However, if you want a good time with mates The Evil Dead will do in a pinch, just don’t expect this nightmare to last long.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Drenched in a delectably dank atmosphere
  • Great finishing moves
  • Good multiplayer indulgences
Bad
  • Rote objectives
  • Single player is a wasted opportunity
  • Gets old quickly
6.2
Okay
Written by
Although the genesis of my videogame addiction began with a PS1 and an N64 in the mid-late 90s as a widdle boy, Xbox has managed to hook me in and consume most of my videogame time thanks to its hardcore multiplayer fanaticism and consistency. I tend to play anything from shooters and action adventures to genres I'm not so good at like sports, RTS and puzzle games.

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