Evil Dead: The Game Review – Hail To The King
Developed and published by Saber Interactive
Available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X
Forty-odd years ago, we were introduced to this fantastic horror later turned horror-comedy series Evil Dead. After having to suffer through some mediocre games in the late nineties and early two-thousands. We finally have it, a game oozing with love for the series we all fell for so many years ago. So let’s get into why this is the best Evil Dead game.
To start, there is a VERY light story here. But honestly? It works after an event that causes most of the key players in the Evil Dead universe (Save for the 2013 films Mia and a few other key characters like Ruby) to appear all at the Knowby cabin. They band together to take down the Kandarian demons and condemn them to hell with the old ones using the Necronomicon.
For solo players and those looking to unlock all the characters, these mini solo missions expand the lore of memorable scenes from the series. For example, when Linda gets possessed, Ash takes it upon himself to go to a nearby cave to try and fix the problem while deadites attack. These add a solo experience, forcing you into a character instead of choosing one. It works as almost an expanded solo tutorial for each character. Completing each mission will give you a new character or a new outfit for “Old” Ash. That mode is fine but also incredibly difficult. Particularly the final (for now) mission Homecoming King, which is the mission you have to beat if you want to use the Army Of Darkness character King Arthur. Interesting additions to the lore, but the weakest part of the package for sure. Considering there are no checkpoints and limited resources, some missions are very long. Homecoming King itself can last around an hour, but to lose it all on the last part having to kill Evil Ash, is gut-wrenching and will undoubtedly turn some people off. We glimpse Castle Kandar during this end sequence, including the pit demon.
The real meat of Evil Dead The Game is its primary mode, the asymmetrical multiplayer experience. With a smattering of characters to choose from, especially if you spend a few hours in the solo missions, Pablo, Kelly, Amanda, and King Arthur are initially locked behind those missions. But there really seem to be a few stand-out characters as of writing this. Army of Darkness Ash and Ash Vs. The Evil Dead Ash appears to be the one people always go for right now. I’ve been mainlining Cheryl and Scott from Evil Dead 1 myself. Even on the demon side, there is enough variety between Henrietta, Evil Ash, and Eligos. Each character and Deadite has its own abilities and skill tree. The experience dealt out per match seems to be a little on the low end right now. Needing to come in first for points for about four games to gain enough experience to gain one level for a character you want. You gain general experience and character experience each match, and yes, even in private games, which is nice. You can use your general experience to pump into any character you want. This gives you a way to upgrade multiple characters at once, considering you should pick out three characters you like and just stick with leveling them up.
The gameplay itself in Evil Dead: The Game is really king here. As the survivors, you run around the map to collect three map pieces. Then you need to collect the pages of the Necronomicon and the Kandarian dagger, which basically stand in a circle while a progress bar goes up while the Deadite sends its forces at you. After collecting those two, you have to go to the dark ones and banish them, revealing the Necronomicon itself. At this point, you defend it while the Deadite tries to destroy it. After three minutes, the book flies open and banishes evil, and the match ends. As the Deadite, you start out needing to track down the survivors. Any loud noise made by a car or gun helps track them down. Your primary goal from start to end is to kill the survivors. Laying traps and unleashing enemies to bring up their fear level, leaving them open to possession. Once possessed, you can turn them on their team or, do my personal favorite, make them run away from the rest of the group, leaving them alone and surrounded by enemies.
While that is a match boiled down to its simplest form, it is a bloody gory, fun time. Characters and Deadites feel good to control. Driving is a little janky but almost in a campy way? The one-liners are constant and fit really well. Depending on your character, their mood fits with the movie they came from. Evil Dead 1981 characters act as though they are in a straight-up horror movie situation.
In contrast, Evil Dead 2s characters have a hint of camp, while Army of Darkness and Ash Vs. The Evil Dead characters are full camp, and every character and their VOs do a fantastic job of portraying their situation. Speaking of VOs, the sound department from Saber has done an outstanding job. The music in the game is on point and has me listening to its creepy jams on repeat. The guns and weapons all have a great weight to them. It adds to the immersion while on the Deadites’ side. Having the Kandar sound while moving around is spin chilling, and having Henrietta give you shit for sucking while the survivors’ complete objectives are hilarious.
Overall, Evil Dead: The Game is fantastic, but I’m also biased. I am a big Evil Dead fan. If you aren’t? Well, then your mileage may vary there. As of right now only two maps, and with the smaller pool of demons, I don’t know how much a non-fan will get out of Evil Dead. Right now, matchmaking takes seconds. What will really matter six months from now how are those match times? Evil Dead, for me, works, and it’s great. When you can get a full four or five friends together, it makes for a great night. Solo might be a bit frustrating, but for those nights, it’s time to go Deadite.
I’m excited to see what they add and what they change to keep Evil Dead new and fresh in the coming months. We’ve seen we are getting a full-blown Castle Kandar. But in an interview with the Saber development team, they heavily hinted at Mia from 2013s Evil Dead. So there is content to pull from. I hope they can keep it fresh because I’m having a fantastic time and can’t wait to okay more.
For more Evil Dead, check out the interview with the Development team or the retrospective on the games that came out before. If you want to play something terrifying, pick up the Dread X Collection 5!