Getting a fistful of boomstick in 2022 is an activity that Deadites need to look forward to in Evil Dead: The Game, the newest entry in the franchise. Ash is back, baby, and he’s teaming up with other movie favourites in a brutal, asymmetrical, multiplayer horror title.
Ash Is Back, Baby
Evil Dead allows players to take control of several different survivors in various locations that hardcore fans of the franchise would recognise. An option to play a tutorial is available through the main menu, dropping players into the cabin of the original movie, complete with the infamous deer wall mount and a trapped Deadite in the cellar. Evil Dead is brimming with fan service and spooky atmospheres, with something new for all players, even die-hard fans, to discover. Players can also take control of a powerful demon, able to spawn in enemies, possess trees and players and travel around the map in a similar fashion to the final demon of the original movie’s ending. Evil Dead seems to hit the nail on the head with a playstyle akin to games such as Dead by Daylight and Resident Evil: Resistance, although much less linear than those two.
This…Is My BOOMSTICK.
Evil Dead’s world thrives on filling the player with dread but also providing similar moments to the ghouls that prowl the land. Deadites will happily run into the spinning blade of a chainsaw to then be turned into a writhing amalgamation of body parts that would make any gore-lover say “groovy”. Players must stick together and stay in the light to avoid growing their fear levels. Without any hope to rely on, our survivors can become so overwhelmed that the Kandarian Demon can possess them, turning the former against their friends unwillingly. Depending on the type of Kandarian Demon in the match, there are a wide variety of enemies to blow a hole into. For instance, the Warlord Demon controls the zombie-like Deadites seen in the original two movies, whereas the Necromancer has an army of skeletons to cut down the player and their team. And it really does feel extremely satisfying to watch the head of a Deadite burst like a balloon with a well-aimed barrel of a shotgun.
All Alone with the Evil Dead
Besides the multiplayer, Evil Dead provides access to solo single-player missions for added variety. Accompanied by well-drawn mission art before and after completion, the player has access to several levels with small-scale objectives to work towards. Each mission seems to have its own scale of difficulty that can dramatically rise as the player progresses through each one. For instance, chapter one is particularly nostalgia-driven, almost like a side-story to the first movie and isn’t really that difficult. However, chapter three seems to ramp up the difficulty as enemies appear to hit much harder despite only having Ash Williams himself and no other survivors to help. Players must travel to enemy hotspots that spawn in powerful Deadites that can make them bleed out in seconds. A timer is also added, which seems to add nothing more but unnecessary pressure to a mission where Deadites only appear in these hotspots and resources are scattered around the map, making my experience feel rushed. The game world is so big that developers could have used it for a much more interesting story mode rather than separate missions.
Not So Groovy
Demon gameplay is fast and allows the player to glide through the map in a first-person view as an invisible monster ready to harvest the souls of its victims. Gliding through obstacles is easy and requires simple movement of the thumbstick to achieve. Comparing this to survivor gameplay, it can prove difficult to move around the environment at times. Survivors can vault over many small obstacles using button prompts but seem incapable of climbing a wall no higher than their hips. Dodging feels very slow and doesn’t allow the player to cancel an action, such as a misplaced axe swing. Enemy tracking can be almost dead-accurate with dodging barely having any effect. The clunkiness of the mechanics feels quite disappointing and can sometimes make for a rather unenjoyable experience.
Is Anybody There?
It took me a while to realise how to find the survivors in my demon gameplay. I would notice alerts for survivors making noise but had no idea where to look. The HUD at the top left actually shows the portrait of the survivor that makes the noise, but this is so small that it took me a good 10 minutes of tediously flying around the map to notice. From a user interface perspective, Evil Dead suffers from its multiplayer. Instead of showing survivors on the map, maybe the demon’s senses could be utilised. For instance, when a noise is heard, it could amplify and echo in the direction it’s coming from through the players’ earphones, instead of a simple, uncreative marker placed on a HUD.
Overall, it’s always nice to see such a beloved horror franchise get the video game treatment and let players fill the roles of their favourite movie characters. However, the clunky controls of the survivors can make it a slog to play through, and a lack of soul given to the solo experience would turn even Henrietta away.
Developer: Saber Interactive
Publisher: Saber Interactive
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S. Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC
Release Date: 13th May 2022