Evil Dead: The Game review - One of the best surprises of 2022 so far
Review copy provided by the publisher
Our Evil Dead The Game review discusses how it’s one of the best surprises of 2022 so far with its surprisingly polished multiplayer gameplay and gorgeous visuals.
In the build-up to its release, most people naturally compared it to other asymmetrical horror games like Dead By Daylight and Friday the 13th. Comparisons are appropriate, but Saber Interactive has managed to create a unique experience rather than a lacklustre copy of BeHaviour’s empire.
It’s a loving tribute to the Sam Raimi movies and Ash Vs. Evil Dead television series and it has hugely surpassed my expectations.
“Gimme some sugar, baby”
One of the most surprising aspects of Evil Dead The Game is its stunning graphics. Every character model of Ash looks incredible from the action hero in Army of Darkness to the knucklehead with a dad bod from the television show.
All the other survivors and demons look immaculate, too. Kelly Maxwell’s sassy hot chick persona is perfectly recreated, whereas Henrietta is wonderfully hideous with her decaying rolls of fat and grotesque nudity. As for the environments, the cabin and woods are fittingly creepy and hellish, as are the hidden caves and basements decorated in blood, rusty chains, and symbols of witchcraft.
Each of the survivors come with voices and lines befitting their character. Bruce Campbell reprises his most iconic role as Ash Williams, but unfortunately, there’s not enough of his famous zingers. Instead of “hail to the king, baby” and “hey sheb**ch, come get some,” he mostly always repeats the same quip about light and primitive minds.
The Ghost Beaters
Evil Dead The Game is similar to Dead By Daylight and Friday the 13th in how four players take the role of survivors while one plays the big baddie. There are 13 survivors to choose from and they each have different classes: Support, Leader, Hunter, and Warrior. It’s a good idea to master one character in each class type, but we’d recommend the Support above all else so you can heal teammates when in trouble and overwhelmed.
You need to complete five objectives to win as the survivor. The first is finding three pieces of paper scattered around the map, then you need to collect the Kandarian Dagger and Necronomicon pages. This leads you to defeat the Dark Ones and then protect the book of the dead from swarms of deadites until time runs out.
Whether you win or not is dependent on your fellow Ghost Beaters. Teamwork is crucial and you’re pretty much doomed from the start if your comrades are goofballs who chase combat and victory on their own. It’s imperative that you all stick together because the fighting becomes more challenging and survivors get scared on their own and thus become susceptible to possession.
“Every character model of Ash looks incredible from the action hero in Army of Darkness to the knucklehead with a dad bod from the television series”
Playing as the survivors is a thrilling experience. There are gory death animations for hand-to-hand combat with spears, axes, knives, hammers, and bats, and each of the available guns feels different. The only problem with the guns and crossbows is that it takes forever to reload and the aiming is a bit stiff. This is why you will find yourself mostly pushing enemies away with a bat rather than blowing them to kingdom come with the boomstick.
A big issue with playing as the survivors is that the game opts for the same field of view as other third-person titles like God of War. You’re always piggybacking your hero while looking over their shoulder, and this makes it impossible to see deadites when they strike from left, right, or behind. A smaller issue is that dodging rarely ever works and a jump button would’ve been appreciated. Ash and pals can vault over fences, but the ability to jump anywhere would help when stuck between rocks or when running across land that isn’t entirely flat.
However, instead of always running across acres of land like a fellowship of headless chickens, you can instead drive vehicles such as the iconic delta. The problem is that cars are ridiculously weak as one or two scratches from deadites results in them completely breaking down. Vehicles are also really slow which is why shortcuts are always recommended even if they are bumpy rides.
“Teamwork is crucial and you’re pretty much doomed if your comrades are goofballs who chase victory on their own”
The game also comes with a levelling system. You can permanently level up your favourite characters to increase aspects such as their resistance to fear, but there are also temporary upgrades during matches. These temporary upgrades come from finding loot boxes full of pink soda. Temporarily boosting your fear and health is recommended along with stamina. There are melee and ranged options too, but damage from guns or bats mostly depends on your weapon’s statistics.
“I’ll swallow your soul”
While four people play as the goodie two shoes, one takes the role of the Kandarian Demon. You ghost around the map at a frighteningly quick speed and you collect orbs to level up and perform actions hoping to eventually kill the heroes.
It’s harder to master the role of the Kandarian Demon, but it’s still a lot fun. You get to set traps such as trees coming to life and hands jumping out of chests, and you are also able to possess cars as well as survivors when their levels of fear are too high.
Lastly, you also get to play as a boss depending on your chosen demon type. Two of these bosses include Henrietta from Evil Dead 2 and Evil Ash from Army of Darkness. Evil Ash is great for whacking survivors with his gigantic sword, meanwhile, Henrietta spews gunk and uses her sagging melons.
“instead of always running like headless chickens, you can drive vehicles such as the iconic delta”
The balance between survivors and Kandarian Demon is perfect as it’s not too easy to win as either group. This results in matches always feeling fair whether you end up as a pitiful loser or shameless victor.
“We’re going to get you”
While Evil Dead The Game is a multiplayer experience first and foremost, there is single-player content to enjoy. You can play the core multiplayer component with bots, but only as a survivor. It’s nowhere near as groovy as playing with friends and strangers, but it’s okay for practise or if you’re struggling to find a match.
Although there’s no campaign or story mode full of cut-scenes, there are five single-player missions available to complete. These unlock characters such as Pablo and Amanda from Ash Vs Evil Dead. None of the missions are very long and the first is pretty enjoyable as it straps Linda’s head to your waist as she creepily sings “we’re going to get you”.
Unfortunately, while there are enjoyable throwbacks, the missions are also pretty infuriating. There are zero checkpoints so you always have to start from the very beginning every time you die. The third mission is particularly gruelling as there’s a horribly short timer and the Puppeteer demon type is ridiculously OP. Even if you don’t particularly care about unlocking Amanda Fisher, the problem is that you can’t pick and choose your missions. So, if you want to unlock Pablo and Lord Arthur, you need to complete everything else first.
“Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart”
There are no microtransactions in Evil Dead The Game, but there is a Season Pass that contains four mysterious DLC packs. The developers have also announced that there is a free map update on the way and this will add Castle Kandar from Army of Darkness.
It’s a shame Castle Kandar isn’t included at launch as there’s a real lack of variety when it comes to maps. Still, it’s good news that the developers are planning free and premium post-launch content. Hopefully, the future will provide us with even more maps as well as new heroes and enemies such as the villainous Ruby from Ash Vs. Evil Dead and maybe even Mia from the Evil Dead reboot.
“Evil Ash is great for whacking survivors with his gigantic sword while Henrietta spews gunk and uses her sagging melons”
While the developers have plans for the future, it’s very worrying that the game is online-only. You can’t play anything if you are not connected to the internet, and this includes matches against bots as well as single-player missions. It’s baffling that you can’t even get past the splash screen without an internet connection as there is content that should be playable offline. This worries me somewhat about its future preservation.
“Hail to the King, baby”
Evil Dead The Game is one of the best and biggest surprises of 2022 so far. It’s a fantastic multiplayer experience that has enough quirks and unique features to stand out against other asymmetrical titles like Dead By Daylight.
A field-of-view slider and jump button would have been appreciated, and the new Castle Kandar map can’t come soon enough. Players are also right to worry about its online-only infrastructure as the game is wholly dependent on an internet connection even though it has content that should be playable offline.
However, despite its few drawbacks, it’s a near-perfect tribute to Sam Raimi’s creation as the game is groovy fun whether you play as a survivor or a demon. It has a great foundation so here’s hoping Saber Interactive keeps us coming back with plenty of post-launch updates.