Evil Dead: The Game Review | Pretty Darn Groovy

Evil Dead: The Game Review

Whether it be Friday the 13th, Predator: Hunting Grounds, or Dead by Daylight, the current popular way for iconic movie monsters and characters to make their way onto a game disk is via an asymmetrical survival game. And in Evil Dead: The Game from Saber Interactive, Ash Williams and friends from the Evil Dead franchise do just that. While I have watched the Evil Dead movies before, I don't consider myself an expert on the subject matter so this review is from the point of view of someone looking at the game at face value. No fan service assessments here. Though, for those who care about it, fans in chat who watched me play live on Twitch said there were plenty of nods to the movies.

The focus of Evil Dead: The Game centers around the core 4v1 multiplayer survival. Four players can pick from a roster of 13 survivors who all split into four classes; Leader, Warrior, Hunter, and Support. The one demon can pick between Warlord, Necromancer, and Puppeteer. Once the match starts, the four survivors have to find three map pieces, followed by the pages of the Necronomicon and the Kandarian dagger. Then, they must battle the Dark Ones and, finally, protect the Necronomicon. If all those steps are completed, the survivors win. During that time, the demon is leveling up, which is shown at the bottom of the screen to survivors, and trying to stop them by hurtling as many undead freaks their way as they can.

If that all sounds straightforward on paper, it's because it is. In fact, Evil Dead: The Game is one of the most accessible asymmetrical horror games out there and the game is all the better for it. Even with my little genre experience, I was able to help the team get the victory on more than one occasion. Tasks are clearly listed on the screen along with all other meters and metrics you need. That's not to say it's overly simplified either. Survivors have to keep an eye on their stats not just to see what level the demon is and what objective they have to do next, but also because they have to monitor their own vitals.

Evil Dead: The Game Review

Fear is a big thing in Evil Dead: The Game and players have to learn to manage it if they want to survive. The game advises you at the start that fear goes up more rapidly if you are alone and if you are in the dark. This emphasis on sticking with other players and lighting up fires and lanterns in your way is a gameplay feature that actively encourages teamwork. Meanwhile, on the flip side of that, the strongest Kandarian Demons are ones that can exploit when players have strayed from the pack. Speaking from personal experience, matches usually end very quickly if that happens when playing against an experienced player in the demon seat.

Let's talk about gameplay next. The game offers smooth third-person action gameplay with few stutters. Players can pick up one ranged weapon and one melee weapon that they find on the ground and as you run across the map, completing objectives, you must also search for chests and loot. Being well equipped is invaluable when a demon is throwing all they have at you. You can pick up some soda to heal yourself, amulets to give you a shield, upgrade your character stats via pink bottles, and use the flashlight with the d-pad. After a few matches, the controls all become familiar and there isn't much of a learning curve. I do still wish the game had some sort of a lock-on system for the melee attacks because just clicking the attack button can sometimes lead to you flying past the Deadite target to attack the air.

As I streamed the opening minutes of the game, playing in the dark with headphones on, I was surprisingly immersed in the clean visuals and sound design. The graphics look great and occasionally, in between being chased by the undead, I would take a second to just look around. The lighting is something I want to highlight especially because driving around the map and seeing the light from the moon and nearby posts bounce off the hood really gave me a sense of how good the lighting engine at work here is. And the game is on equal grounds when it comes to sound too, with an ominous sound design that builds the tension before a screaming Deadite makes you jump. Though, I will admit that I didn't care for the quips the characters say as you play. After a few matches, it can get pretty repetitive. 

Evil Dead: The Game Server Issues

Evil Dead: The Game isn't without its flaws, and they come in three main forms. The first is bugs. They don't occur in every match, and they can sometimes be harmless visual glitches, but when they do happen, it's often frustrating like when I was stuck on an unseen piece of geometry as soon as I spawned and couldn't move for over five minutes until a skeleton attacked me. And I wasn't alone in this, I spoke with another player who had the same experience on a chair. The second is driving. My god, the driving mechanics of the game are bonkers and it's almost easier to just get around on foot and risk the undead than trying to steer those cars accurately. Lastly, and most importantly, the servers. On more than one occasion I went to play a march only to find that the servers are full and it's very unfortunate that you can't play the game due to problems that should have been avoided from the start.

Before I wrap it up, the last thing I want to say is that there are a few "story" missions in the game but I add the parentheses because they are pretty light on content. Perhaps series fans can better appreciate it because they let you play through iconic moments from the movies, but for me, they were pretty basic. Though the game is still intense in these missions and that makes me wonder what a full-fledged Evil Dead campaign would have been like, even if it was theoretically just four hours long. But, talking again about what is actually in the game, playing the story missions offers you some rewards for playing like new fits and audio recordings that expand upon the game's lore.

That all being said, Evil Dead: The Game is a fun and accessible asymmetrical survival game that, for $39.99, offers a lot of value for fans of the series. For new players unfamiliar with the horror franchise, the price tag may be a bit high, but there is still fun to be had. And thanks to the addition of crossplay, teaming up with friends is easy, and surviving together can be a great way to spend the afternoon. The game is bogged down by server issues and bugs, but there are patches on the way that will hopefully smooth them over. Evil Dead: The Game is out now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review.

Evil Dead: The Game | 7 | Good

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