Evil Dead: The Game
Hail To The King, Baby
When it comes to video game movie tie-ins, very few developers seem to hit the mark on what made the source material charming, to begin with. Saber Interactive managed to break the mold with the release of World War Z, a solid "Left 4 Dead" inspired title based on a decent movie. We looked at Aftermath last year as its debut on consoles and I was left impressed with the density of zombies within the game. It was a great starting point for Saber Interactive to continue success in bringing the big screen to video games. With the release of Evil Dead The Game, does it live up to the groundwork that WWZ provides?
Usually, I begin this by saying what the plot for the game is all about. It's difficult to do so with Evil Dead The Game because there isn't any story, truth be told. The game features most of the important characters spanning the franchise's 40-year history. Some characters make multiple appearances based on their movie origin, for example, Ash has his hunting rifle from Evil Dead 2 and still has his hand. His alliteration in Army of Darkness gives birth to his "chainsaw" hand. Each character is separated into four classes, the Leader, Warrior, Hunters, and Support.
Evil Dead Offers Unique Ways To Lead Your Team To Victory
The "Leader" archetype is the designated class that serves as the "head" of the mecha. The only Leader available by default is Annie Knowby from Evil Dead 2, which isn't as odd of a choice for a "leader" as one would think. In the movie, she was responsible for helping send Ash to the past, leading to the events of the Army of Darkness. The flagship character of the Warrior class is the very same version of Ash, voiced by Bruce Campbell himself. Players can also control the demons, who each have their unique traits including possessing humans and forcing them to attack others.
The voice work is exceptional, featuring some of the returning cast and new voice actors who try their best impression. Characters who appeared in the Ash vs Evil Dead tv series also make their return as their specific characters. Hearing Campbell deliver one-liners like it was the 90s made me yearn for a Duke Nukem style brawler in the Evil Dead universe. Instead, as one can see from the title, Evil Dead: The Game is to Dead by Daylight like WWZ was to Left 4 Dead. While the latter was a successful formula, I'm conflicted if this was the right call for Ash.
There Are Rather Peculiar Censorship Choices
Like most multiplayer games of this nature, the more a player uses a character, the more they level up and improve their ability. Most players should begin their experience by playing through the tutorial as it explains all the player needs to know about their survivor horror experience. The maps are a bit larger in size than Dead by Daylight and there is more to do than "power generators." The win conditions for the survivors are to find the pages of the Necronomicon, find the Kandarian Dagger, and use it to defeat the Evil Dead that spawns. The role of the demons is to stop the survivors and kill them all, naturally.
Players begin the round unarmed as they are expected to scavage vacant houses, gas stations, and other buildings for weapons. Resources like bottles of "Pink F," are used to increase the stats of a player throughout the round. The in-game soft drink, "Shemp's Cola" is the primary source of restoring health while finding amulets and gives the player a temporary shield. Finally, matches and ammo can be found, the former being an underrated item.
What's amusing about the "Pink F" and "Shemp's Cola" is that both items are censored in the game. Those who know Shemp's will recognize that it was a beer in the movie. I'm not sure why they censored beer for cola in an M-rated game, but it's amusing to think. The "Pink F" is from the TV series and it's explained here what it actually means.
It's Dangerous To Go Alone, Use Matches
In an actual match, the game places you and the survivors some distance from each other, with occasional hints being given by the narrator. The first goal, as mentioned, is to find pages to the Necronomicon. Doing so will send out a ping to the enemies, alerting them to your position. Fighting isn't difficult if not clumsy, reminding me of the newly added "melee mode" in World War Z: Aftermath. While the players complete objectives, being a lone ranger is not recommended as doing so will increase a player's "fear" value.
When under certain zones, roaming alone, or under enemy attack, the fear gauge will rise. Some characters' fear will increase more than others and when fear reaches its maximum, the character is suspectable of being possessed. There are jumpscares when this happens, but it's tolerable after the first three times. These are where matches come in. Being around others will halt the rate of fear, but being in direct light will calm the player character down. It's not enough to manage your health and ammo, as your fear is the difference between life and death.
Evil Dead The Game Has Potential But Falls Short
Ultimately I wish I could speak more about Evil Dead The Game but it suffers from the "Online Only Multiplayer" syndrome. There is "single-player content" that will unlock more characters as players complete missions. Unfortunately, these are nothing more than glorified levels with a little sprinkle of lore. I know very little of the franchise aside from the chainsaw hand and the shotgun so all of the references to King Arthur were lost on me.
Regardless, the meat of the game is in its multiplayer and as with most co-op, partnering with randoms is an exercise in headaches. As usual, I recommend playing with friends as it's quite fun with a group of buds. Personally, Evil Dead The Game isn't for me, but I know it will be a hit for a lot of fans of the franchise.
Evil Dead The Game is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The Switch version will release sometime this year and I know how the last Saber Interactive Switch port went...