Evil Dead: game review

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I don’t think it’s exaggerating if I claim to have seen Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness 100 times. I think I may be rather modest in my appreciation, even though it was 30 years ago and even though my memory is much worse than before. Sam Raimi’s fantastic third movie in the franchise was along with White Men Can’t Jump and Point Break my three favorite movies as a young boy, and I’ve seen them over and over and over and over again, for several years. I can easily quote entire scenes from all of them, but perhaps especially from Army of Darkness where Bruce Campbell gives a pitch-perfect performance as Ash, the arrogant Smart-store manager who, after the forest nightmares in Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, finds himself in a time machine and is sent back to the Dark Ages where the hunt for the deadly Necronomicon begins.

There have been many games’ renditions of Raimi’s cult classic horror trilogy and most of them have been, in my opinion, bad, or mediocre at best. The recently released Evil Dead: The Game is developed by the folks behind titles like SnowRunner and Timeshift and, much like the Friday the 13th 2017 game, it’s an asymmetrical-like online multiplayer experience. A little over eight years ago, it was predicted that asymmetrical multiplayer would take over the gaming world. turned out to be as successful as expected.

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In Evil Dead, much like in Evolve or Friday the 13th, gameplay revolves around five-player matches where one controls a demon and four other players control Ash and his companions. There are 13 “Survivors” to choose from across four different character classes (Support, Leader, Hunter, and Warrior) and for this team, the games themselves are all about completing five different objectives, in the correct order. First, three different papers will be located on the relatively large open maps, then the Kandarian Knife from Evil Dead II must be found, and finally the Necronomicon. If you do this, you repel the armies of the dead and win the game.

Evil Dead: The Game

The single player who takes on the role of the lone demon floats around the map like a ghost, and initially each match is mostly about collecting “orbs” and setting simple traps. After that, the demon player must possess various items to stop the progress of the survival party. It is possible to take control of trees, bushes or vehicles to prevent other players from hunting the five lenses, or it is possible to summon bosses. Among them are Evil Ash from Army of Darkness along with Henrietta from Evil Dead 2.

Saber Interactive used the Unreal Engine to build a game world that resonates more with Evil Dead 2 than anything else from Raimi’s horror universe and the game looks great, overall. Everything looks good, from the smaller models to the large open maps that are often drenched in rain, darkness, light effects from outdoor lighting, torches, and the stormy sky. The presentation is excellent and it should be noted that the game was largely created by pure Evil Dead fans. Nothing was left to chance and Saber put all the details into the details that make the characters in the movie trilogy as endearing as they are. They’ve also brought voice actors like Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, and Betsy Baker with them and they all do a really good job of creating a good Evil Dead feeling and atmosphere.

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Evil Dead: The Game

What, on the other hand, doesn’t impress in the same way are the gameplay mechanics and how horribly monotonous and almost silly the whole setup feels after three or maybe four games played. Right now the demon player is often superior in my experience and although the balancing is done by the studio given it’s a live service game, all with multiplayer asymmetrical is seriously flawed in its basic layout if you ask me. Running around as a survivor and chasing book pages and knives match after match is damn boring and the fact that battles against all the undead enemies flooding the maps are monotonous and pretty much mash the same button – actually a pretty boring multiplayer game. For me, this is an issue that even Evolve and Friday the 13th suffered from, but I can still find some gameplay positives in these titles that I’m struggling to find here. Evil Dead does everything right when it comes to pure fan service. It looks “right”, it sounds “right” and it’s obvious that Saber loves the movies, but I don’t think the premise or gameplay matches what Raimi’s movie trilogy is really about.