Providing a critique on Evil Dead: The Game is like telling your child of their flaws. Your love for them is undeniable, but sometimes a little reality check is necessary. The truth will set you free: that’s a pretty shit drawing, go to your room.
I saw Evil Dead II upon its VHS release and have been a fan ever since. After Army of Darkness and then the bloody marvellous Ash Vs Evil Dead, the series is one of my favourite comedy horrors ever. Ever.
Blood bonds established, I’ve struggled with Evil Dead: The Game. Knowing it would be multiplayer-focused, I still held out, excited for the inevitable release as a fan of the silver screen. Alas, the experience wasn’t a great one. After a bare-bones tutorial, the first port of call was a solo game. Me and three AI, versus – you guessed it: AI.
You’ll pick from a range of classes; leaders, warriors (melee), hunters (ranged), and support. Aiming is pretty good for ranged attacks if you can spot the threat, but I preferred a melee build – even if the combat was chaotic. Your character carries a melee and a ranged weapon, ranked by their rarity, damage, speed, et al. These are found through exploring the HUGE maps, looting Shemp Cola for health, amulets for shields, and Pink F for session-based buffs.
Each character has a special and is subjected to ‘the fear’. When in the dark for long periods or separated from your team, you’ll need to locate matches and light areas to return your sanity; otherwise, you could become possessed and attack your teammates. In Evil Dead: The Game, you’ll also control the Deadites. These units mirror the Survivors, but you can also summon an all-powerful boss demon to do significant damage/slow down the other team’s progress.
As for Survivor-based gameplay, you must locate three pieces of a map – often dispersed on opposite sides of the map. Once you have them, you collect a dagger and some paperwork to complete your taxes. After a king of the hill like experience, you’ll destroy three Dark Ones, then hold out once more for a couple of minutes to secure the Necronomicon. During this time, the demons will increase in strength and numbers, and as the timer drops, the harder they become.
From the perspective of a solo experience, it’s weak. If you’re going to stick with Evil Dead: The Game, you’ll have to play with others to level your character up, as on your own, it’s nigh on impossible to rely on the AI. I would kill 30-40 enemies, max out my stats, have the best weapons, then some cheap shot would kill me last minute, my AI ‘friends’ would turn on me or fail to revive me, and after 25-odd minutes, the results screen would list my stats but award ZERO XP. That’s right – if you fail, not even consolation XP to clean the red off of you. You have to play with others.
Each build has a skill tree that permanently upgrades your stats such as stamina, hitting power and specials. With in-game Pink F, it’s for that session only, and all attributes go back to the base settings on your next playthrough. Best get some XP then. You could try the solo campaign of about five missions, but the stats don’t apply here and are set pieces from the Evil Dead series. It’s fun to be a loner, but there are zero checkpoints, so in the likely event that you die, it’s for minimal reward. At least there’s no timer.
What I do like about Evil Dead: The Game is the visuals on the PS5, and the fact that The Chin himself voices Ash. He’s the standout here as per the series, but it’s nice to have some options, especially that you can become a Deadite. Naturally, the game is dark, and that’s not just the humour or gory (excellent) movesets, but the lighting. It makes sense for this to play out in the woods and at night, but it’s one of the few games where I turned up the gamma purely for being able to see my attackers and not because I was frightened. Usually, the case in horror games. Oh, and Method Man does the theme music? What’s not to love about that?!
If you’re a fan of games like Dead By Daylight, you’ll enjoy this third-person romp, but you’ll have to concede by playing online regardless of the solo options. I haven’t seen the roadmap for Evil Dead: The Game, but I’d imagine there’ll be more content on the horizon with peripheral characters from the TV series (maybe play as a tree?), and perhaps new missions/objectives. Essentially it’s better with friends – and significantly easier, too. I do hope that Saber Interactive make future tweaks to the balancing, though: easier for solo players, a bit more of a challenge for co-ops.