Read on for Bloody Disgusting’s Evil Dead: The Game review!
Asymmetrical horror is currently experiencing its moment in the limelight. The fast-paced, competitive, innovative qualities of the genre appeal to folks all across the board, and the output of asymmetrical games show no signs of slowing down. While exciting, it’s also a bit of a double-edged sword for developers–the foundation of asymmetrical horror is set, and consequently, expectations are high for each newcomer. How do you break into this space, put your own spin on the formula, and appeal to new and old fans alike?
Saber Interactive’s Evil Dead: The Game recently stepped up to the plate, and not only did it achieve all of this, but it took it a step even further by adapting a franchise as beloved as Evil Dead so effectively, even Sam Raimi would be proud.
For those unversed, I’ll quickly give the lowdown on what asymmetrical horror entails: a group of survivors go head to head against (typically) one killer who hunts them down before they can complete the objectives necessary to survive. In Evil Dead: The Game, this translates into Ash Williams (voiced by Bruce Campbell) and his band of cohorts across the entire Evil Dead universe going up against the all-powerful Kandarian Demon and its army of Deadites. On paper, it reads like a match made in heaven. But naturally, the camps of both Evil Dead loyalists and dedicated gamers may question: how will this appease everyone?
The answer is visceral, chaotic, hilarious fun. Slashing your way through Deadites as fan favorites like Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) and Lord Arthur (Marcus Gilbert) is a blast. Meanwhile, zipping through the world as The Kandarian Demon in true first person point-of-view, Raimi-esque fashion makes it easy to unleash havoc on your victims. As a survivor, you’ll suit up with health items, chainsaws, shotguns and the like as you explore the map and hunt down the items needed to exorcize the Kandarian Demon. However, you’ll find that this is no easy task as the killer player is able to take control of the car you’re driving, lay down traps, and even possess your teammates if their fear meter maxes out. The Kandarian Demon player essentially holds all of the levers for everything that goes on during each match, and while they set everything up, swarms of Deadites also automatically pop up to attack the survivors to keep them at bay. For both teams, there’s an ever present sense of urgency and movement which keeps you engaged till the end of the match.
This level of engagement makes for extremely satisfying moments during each match for all players. Unleashing a cinematic finishing move with a chainsaw as your favorite iteration of Ash Williams never gets old, and personally, when playing as The Kandarian Demon, I patiently wait to possess each survivor as soon as I can. Knowing that when I possess a character, their player has to watch helplessly as I sprint off into the woods to separate them from the group and waste all of their bullets? Its priceless. Evil Dead: The Game manages to keep every match feeling fresh and unique which is a difficult feat to achieve in asymmetrical horror.
In addition to the gameplay, the aesthetics of Evil Dead: The Game look and feel straight out of one of the films. The environments are gorgeously creepy, the orchestral soundtrack is exciting and dramatic, and the quips from each character as they pick up weapons (“Time to let the boomstick do the talking!”) are comical and fun. It strikes the perfect balance of horror and comedy that the franchise is so well-known for. If you’re a diehard fan of the Evil Dead, you’ll feel right at home.
During my many matches, I did pick up on a commonly shared sentiment–playing as a survivor is hard as hell. And I have to agree; right now at least, it seems that the power balance is definitely in favor of the killer. Teamwork is a vital element of the survivor side winning, and as folks are still learning the ropes, it’s common to end up in matches where there’s no group synergy in completing objectives, and the killer can easily pick off each player. This leads to some frustrating moments where some matches quickly fall apart into disjointed messes. However, this is something that will likely be alleviated with balance patches in the near future. The Saber team has made it clear that they’re committed to listening to reception from fans and will be implementing updates to the game–in fact, a DLC has already been announced that will include a new map.
As players do learn the ropes more, the more complex systems of the game will also surely become more prevalent, such as the leveling-up and perk systems. Each match grants players experience points which allows each character to level up and pick up new perks, such as healing items being more effective or increased melee weapon damage. It may take some time, but once you begin to learn the functionality of each character on both the survivors and killer sides, you’ll gain your stride and the difficulty level will feel more manageable.
Further, if you’re wanting to brush up on your skills before jumping into multiplayer, or just want to enjoy some single player fun, there’s a handful of single-player missions and the ability to play with AI controlled characters as well. These missions also provide unlockables, such as new characters, incentivizing players to explore more than just the multiplayer aspect of the game.
Evil Dead: The Game is already a groovy time, and while it certainly has a couple kinks that could be ironed on the balance front, I’m genuinely excited to see it continue to grow. Whether you’re just casually jumping in for a couple of matches here and there or you intend on fine-tuning your skills for a more competitive scene, the choice is yours, and it’ll be a blast either way. Take it from me: Evil Dead: The Game is sure to become one of the most ubiquitous titles in the asymmetrical horror genre.
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