Taking inspiration from Sam Raimi’s cult classic horror films, Saber Interactive’s new asymmetrical horror game, Evil Dead: The Game, is a labour of love for fans of the franchise.
The game manages to capture the original trilogy’s difficult balance of gore-soaked horror and sardonic humour. If you’re going to make it out alive, you’re going to need a few friends, like the heroes of the film series.
The main mode of Evil Dead: The Game, Survivor vs. Demon, combines elements of survival horror games like Dead by Daylight and action-horror games like Left 4 Dead. A team of four survivors or a solitary killer are your options in this game.
Depending on your patience for online play, you can play this mode in either PvP or PvE. PvE options include playing with human teammates against an AI killer or playing with AI teammates against an AI killer. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a phone or computer.
SURVIVOR vs. DEMON features a total of nine starting survivors across four classes: Leader and Support, Hunter (ranged specialist), and Warrior (a melee-focused option). Ash Williams appears in all four classes: Evil Dead’s Ash is a Support, Army of Darkness’s Ash is a Warrior, and so on.
As always, Bruce Campbell lends his dulcet tones to the role of All Ashes, lending the franchise his trademark charm in several different incarnations (including Evil Ash and Tiny Ashes). Additionally, the cast includes several well-known actors from films and television. All of this contributes significantly to the overall experience of being a part of the Evil Dead universe.
Your mission as survivors is to explore one of the two large maps the game currently has, finding scattered pieces of an in-game map while also hunting for weapons and other useful loot. A series of king-of-the-hill battles must be completed before the completed Necronomicon can be safeguarded from the oncoming hordes of enemies after you locate all of the map’s pieces.
It boils down to a lot of using your map to find objectives and communicating with your team to ensure that no one is left behind. By making players more vulnerable to the Demon if they are alone or in the dark, the game’s fear mechanic (which is similar to that in the excellent Phasmophobia) encourages group play even more. You’ll need a lot of time to sift through the map, and while there are cars on the map, using them will draw the attention of the Demon.
As a survivor, you’ll have a unique experience compared to many other video games in the same genre. For starters, you can fight back, which gives you a greater sense of control and dynamism in your quest to survive. In addition, you must make time for the looting and levelling-up mechanics while completing your various objectives.
As a survivor in a team of four, you’ll have to deal with a problem that has plagued online multiplayer games for as long as they’ve existed: the need to trust and communicate with other players. If you want to play with a group of friends, this shouldn’t be a problem; the game allows you to create a private lobby or party up and queue together.
It is possible to play Evil Dead: The Game in cooperative multiplayer mode even if you don’t know anyone else. Although voice chat is available in the game (as far as I could tell, no push-to-talk option), no one used it in the random matches I played. For safety, players relied heavily on the game’s ping system and the general “safety in numbers” strategy. However, we couldn’t forget how much more fun it would be if we were all together in the same room and had a group voice call.
It’s also important to note that as a Demon, you have a simple goal: kill the survivors before they complete their objectives, or destroy the Necronomicon in the event they find it. Three playable Kandarian Demons each possess and control Deadites (essentially zombie minions that are spawned on the map), Survivors, cars, and even trees (which can attack nearby Survivors).
It’s also possible for them to summon additional Deadites, plant traps around the map, and summon the game’s boss. These abilities are earned by collecting red orbs around the map, which can only be done while the demons are not inside a body. For example, the demons’ movement in the Evil Dead movies is depicted by the camera zooming in and out at high speeds.
Demon vs. Survivor’s gameplay has enough depth to reward experimentation with it. Atmosphere, clear objectives and satisfyingly bloody combat keep things approachable for players of all skill levels while relying on their terror to propel them into action. A great time can be had with friends, or even if you have to wait in line with a bunch of scumbags.
Beyond the PvE version of the online game mode, however, there is pure single-player content in Evil Dead: The Game as well. There are missions, which are short scenarios based on scenes from the movies and TV shows (the first one has you digging up Ash’s girlfriend’s decapitated head, for example). Characters can be unlocked by completing these missions.
As if you were at a video rental store, the mission select screen displays each scenario as a VHS cover. Incorporating yourself into scenes from movies is a lot of fun. Despite these drawbacks, the game’s missions are long and challenging enough to make you wish for a checkpoint system (too many times I would slog through 15-20 minutes only to die at the final encounter and have to start over). Instead of being integral parts of a substantial campaign mode, these missions feel more like side content meant to be unlocked to obtain additional characters.
It’s safe to say that Evil Dead: The Game is a solid addition to the asymmetrical horror genre, incorporating elements from other genres to create a thrilling and enjoyable group experience.
There is a prank-like mechanic in one of the Demons that scares players like those old internet prank videos, as well as the blood and gore you’d expect from the source material. You have the feeling that the Demon is lurking around every corner when you play as a Survivor (and the game’s audio certainly amplifies that feeling).
The game does an excellent job of capturing the eerie atmosphere of the cult classics. With the return of many of the actors (especially Campbell), the game’s sounds and sights immediately evoke the movies, down to the eerie details (like that cellar door!) and mechanical functioning of the characters in the infamous cabin (such as how they move) (the Necromancer can summon a skeleton flautist to power up attacks, like in Army of Darkness). Double-check your crew before you jump in to ensure that you will make it out alive.