Evil Dead: The Game

Evil Dead has become one of the most enduring horror franchises out there, much of which is due to the wildly likeable star of the show, Bruce Campbell. So, no pressure making a game out of it all then…

Ah, but the brave souls at Saber Interactive felt up to the challenge, and have concocted a heady mix of the Evil Dead movies and the more recent TV outing Ash vs. Evil Dead. Yes, this means characters from throughout the universe colliding, which is explained away as being due to Professsor Knowby unknowingly summoning the Kandarian Demon and then Ash to try to help clean up his mess, bringing various mates along for the ride.

A game such as this would be nothing without the familiar faces and voices, and it’s a pleasure hearing Campbell and actors such as Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago doing their thing in-game. The universe’s creator Sam Raimi was also heavily involved, as were the likes of Lionsgate and their television offshoot Starz. Folks, this is how you do a tie-in well, especially considering how truly scrummy both the character models and general visuals scrub up.

Of course, all the dedication to getting things looking and sounding right can mean nought if the game around them isn’t up to snuff. Saber have taken the survival horror asymmetrical multiplayer route (four players versus one), with a couple of small nods to solo game players. Disappointingly there’s no single-player story mode, which would have afforded the experience a much greater air of groovy. The best you can do on your own, other than five all-too-brief missions, is to team up with a selection of console-controlled players for a go through the survivor experience, but they have a tendency to wander all over the place rather unnaturally, often getting in the way – as well as looking just plain stupid.

If you’re in it to battle deadites with mates, or versus whomever you may encounter in that big wide world online, however, the action really arcs up, with co-op and PvP options. If you need a comparison game to gauge things, think Dead by Daylight and you’ll be somewhere on the right track.

Evil Dead: The Game

Events kick off with your team tracking down three fragments of map that leads to unearthing the Necronomicon book and Kandarian Dagger, before the final showdown commences where the book must be protected at all costs. Naturally it’s no walk in the park, as that mean old Kandarian Demon arranges for his troops to greet you at turns both expected and not. Naturally you have a selection of weapons to get busy on such annoyances with, a couple of dozen or so that range from knives, axes, bats and pistols through to some choice boomsticks and, of course, Ash’s signature chainsaw.

There’s an appealing twist to proceedings though – you don’t have to be on the side of good. Fancy walking in the shoes – well if it had them – of the Kandarian Demon? Go for it, introducing different play elements – including some brilliant movie-faithful traps – as you waft all about setting traps for those helpless (ahem) humans. Once – or if – the novelty of playing as Ashy Slashy wears off (hands up if he won’t be your first play go-to character… yep, no hands), you may just find being all demonic and stuff is more of an entertaining experience.

“Those devotees who know every tiny bit of Evil Dead lore and dig shooters are in for the time of their lives here.”

Four survivor player classes feature, with each of these 13 characters having their own specialist abilities. Combat involves both heavy and light melee attacks, as you trudge around the map either by foot or via the occasional vehicle that you might come across. Not only do they speed up traversal, they also make for a quick and neat(ish) way to take out assailants, although their durability is questionable following the odd deadite encounter. Veer to the side of evil and you have three different armies to choose from, made up of different assortments of grunts and bosses (including Evil Ash from Army of Darkness – yay!)

Gameplay can get quite frenetic, which is where the player’s over-the-shoulder view can prove to be quite an impediment. With your field of view so limited – even if technically it does add realism – you’ll often fall victim to surprise attacks from either side or behind. There’s a dodge mechanism that’s usually redundant as you’ll be stabbing it after the fact, and the absence of any ability to jump at all is just, well, kind of weird. The lack of respawn points within missions also had us dropping expletives with wild abandon more often than we’d really like to admit. Then there’s the need for an online connection even when getting your solo on – most disappointing.

Barring those few grievances, those devotees who know every tiny bit of Evil Dead lore and dig shooters are in for the time of their lives here, with serious fan service paid via the sheer depth of references, from the fairly obvious to the very obscure. And the gore – so much bloody gore!

For a mostly fun multiplayer horror experience that’s full of Ashy Slashy goodness, shop smart, shop Evil Dead: The Game!

Evil Dead: The Game is available now on PS5, Xbox and PS4.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Please note: Unsurprisingly the trailer below for this MA15+ rated game features lots of BLOOD and VIOLENCE.