When Evil Dead: The Game was announced, I was excited but doubtful. We’ve gotten several Evil Dead games before, most of which were quite bad. Though the last one was fairly decent, albeit middling. The latest iteration is an asymmetric multiplayer game, with four players controlling survivors and another controlling a demon. Developed by Saber Interactive and Boss Team Games, Evil Dead: The Game was much better than I anticipated. More than that, it’s actually good. That’s right, someone has finally made a legitimately good Evil Dead game. Listen up, you primitive screwheads, and I’ll explain how.
Evil Dead: The Game takes characters and aspects from all over the series. You’ll notice parts of the original movie, the sequel/semi-remake, the massively different follow-up, and the cancelled three-season TV series from a few years back. Major characters from all four entries are playable as survivors, while three types of enemies and demons make up the other half of the equation. There are a bunch of different variations of Ash (one from each entry, at that,) plus his sister Cheryl, Annie Knowby and her boyfriend Ed (Jake and Bobby Joe are sadly not accounted for), as well as Henry and Arthur from Army of Darkness, and Kelly, Pablo, and Amanda Fisher from the TV series.
There are three demon bosses, each with their own armies behind them. Henrietta, Eligos, and Evil Ash are summonable bosses with their own movesets, and they come with regular deadites — ugly lesser demons — and the actual Army of Darkness, respectively. You can even summon the flute player to buff the latter. It’s all wrapped up in a package that is Evil Dead to the core, including many of the original actors returning to supply voices. There’s a very obvious love for the franchise here, which makes all the difference.
Stand by me
The way each match works is pretty simple. You and three other survivors choose characters, all of whom have different stats, classes, and unique abilities, and are dropped into one of Evil Dead: The Games‘ large, variable maps. Survivors first need to collect three pages. The game tells you the general vicinity of these and marks them when you get close enough. Once you have those, you go to one of two zones where you need to activate a marker and remain nearby until a certain amount of time passes.
Once you’re done with those zones, you then have to go and take down the Old Ones, a trio of hooded demons that stand in a field and must be dispatched using the Kandarian Dagger, which you gain from one of the aforementioned zones. You shoot a blue beam at them until you take down three health bars. Do that, and the Necromonicon appears, which you must defend for two minutes. If your team and the book survive, you win. But if you all die protecting it or the demon destroys the book before you can send the evil back, you lose.
Of course, the demon has plenty of opportunities to get in the way of the survivors. The demon moves in the first person, a la the spooky demon cam from the movies. Red infernal energy lays all over the map, which needs to be collected to power the demon’s abilities. Demons can set traps, open portals that spawn deadites, and possess deadites and cars. Eligos can even possess players, which is super Evil Dead. Then there’s summoning the boss itself. Bosses are obviously extra tough and have their own unique abilities, but even the deadites have special attacks while you’re playing as them.
Does that sound fine?
Of course, none of the above would mean a whole lot if the gameplay didn’t match up — and it does. Survivors run through the maps in third-person, with the camera stuck to the back, making it most playable with a mouse and keyboard. There are regular and strong attacks with melee weapons, with ranged weapons as well. After hitting an enemy, you can press a button to use a pre-finisher, or a finisher if the enemy’s health is low enough. Combat is weighty and pretty satisfying. Survivors have a stamina meter that depletes, plus there’s a dodge with invincibility frames.
Evil Dead: The Game also has an indicator arrow onscreen if an enemy pops up behind you. And that’s great, because the deadites love to jump out of portals and run up on you — exactly what you’d expect. While exploring, you’ll come across bottles of “Pink F” (Ash’s mixed vodka drink of choice from the TV series) that gives survivors a point to put into their stats. I usually like to pump up melee attack and stamina. Survivors have different classes, from warrior to support, so there’s plenty of room to find a playstyle that works for you.
Demons also level up as their threat level rises, which lets them put points into various aspects, such as how many infernal points they have or how strong their summoned deadites are. Demons initially have to find the survivors, but if they make noise, drive a car, or have high fear levels, then their icon will show on the map, leading the demon right to them. Regardless of who you’re playing as, Evil Dead: The Game is simply a lot of fun. You can also play with a team against the AI if you want an easier time, or even solo if you’d prefer, although you won’t get any XP if you do the latter.
Individual characters have their own levels, as does your account. The higher the level, the more perks they have and the more skill points that can go into their skill tree. Evil Dead: The Game is surprisingly fully featured, which will help keep it from getting stale too quickly. I do worry that the franchise isn’t popular enough these days to keep the game going for all that long, but it’s mostly a blast for now.
Strangely, the PC version has some strange quirks. Many options (such as motion blur and chromatic aberration) are impossible to turn off and you can’t choose your own resolution in full screen. Plus, the game ran at 720p until I messed with the executable file itself. Aside from this, though, this is probably the most enjoyable asymmetric game I’ve played. Hail to the king, baby.