Evil Dead: With regard to the movies, The Evil Dead series has a history of being far superior to what it is legally entitled to be, flaws and all; and Evil Dead: The Game is currently in the same position.
Even though it contains a lot of irritating elements, such as slight inclines that my wimpy survivor was unable to climb, finicky command prompts, and more, it overwhelmingly succeeds at being a well-balanced, compelling battle of wits and reflexes that have managed to hold my attention for more than 20 hours, which is no easy feat.
Aside from the clunky parts, playing as a survivor completely captures the horror movie atmosphere of banding together to defeat a terrifying threat, while playing as the threatening demon is a hilarious misadventure that lets you live out your inner evil genius.
Yes, Evil Dead: The Game is an asymmetrical multiplayer game in the style of titles like Friday the 13th and Dead by Daylight, but it’s done here with a campy, Bruce Campbell-infused flair that’s just as bizarre and campy as the cult classic films. Its gameplay isn’t particularly inventive: in each game, four player survivors cooperate to escape being injured long enough to carry out a ceremony that drives out all evil, all the while suffering the actual agony of the map’s geometry.
At the same time, one evil player makes every effort to eliminate the survivors employing an army of undead warriors and a variety of cunning methods that are so vilely pleasurable that it’s difficult to feel sorry for the unfortunate people who fall prey to your horrible power. Regardless of whatever side you are on, that cat-and-mouse game is a ton of fun, even though its unpolished edges make me scream more loudly than any jump fright.
The fact that people can protect themselves sets it apart from other films of the same genre. Being a survivor is similar to playing a squad-based, third-person shooter that heavily emulates the battle royale genre, in which your squad moves around in search of treasure and kills enemies as you gradually level up.
The only difference is that here, finding map pieces and defending territory is part of your objectives in order to secure the relics required for the purifying ritual. Its progression system hooked me early with all the potential outcomes thanks to the abundance of combat and ranged weapons to find and the 13 characters to pick from, each with their own special abilities and skill trees to level up.
For instance, characters of the Hunter class are excellent with ranged weapons and have skills that make them a significant pain for the demon player, such as one fantastic character who has the ability to evict demons from bodies they have inhabited. As an alternative, you can like to take on the role of a Leader class character like the amusing Lord Arthur, a medieval knight who wields a sword and has the power to bolster the squad with abilities that make them more deadly in battle.
The Progression System
However, playing as a survivor makes it much more likely that you may encounter some of Evil Dead‘s infamous clunkiness when navigating the map.
You won’t be able to jump since there isn’t one, and the terrain is frequently uneven; as a result, you’ll frequently become trapped on a little rock or another impediment, even when a demon is trying to rip your face off. Small barriers can occasionally be climbed over with the help of a prompt, but you will almost always need to go all the way around them, even something as simple as a low hedge wall. The glitches are as asymmetrical as the gameplay design because the demon can fly over all of it.
The lack of a lock-on system when fighting undead mobs, finicky interaction prompts to do things like light a campfire or revive a fallen teammate that frequently doesn’t register during crucial moments, your character getting frozen in place for several seconds for no apparent reason, and more are challenges you’ll face in addition to being caught in a life-or-death battle with small pebbles.
The incredibly annoying safe zone feature, which confines your squad to a smaller and smaller area as the game’s climax draws near, is perhaps my biggest pet peeve. If you’ve ever played a battle royale game, you’ll be familiar with the idea, but Evil Dead executes it in the worst way possible by making the safe zone changes unpredictable, virtually always deadly if you venture outside the bounds, and wildly uneven.
There have been times when my team has finished an objective, but a few seconds later the safe zone jumps to a different area of the map, trapping half the team in an inevitable death zone and ending any chance of winning. That is so unbearably frustrating.
Fortunately, there are fewer issues while playing as one of the three playable demons, mostly because you control a floating sphere of evil that can quickly hover over the area and meddle with the survivors who possess godlike abilities.
That’s large because Evil Dead gives you so many options for achieving that nefarious objective: you can call forth armies of computer-controlled foes for the survivors to battle, set traps that spawn foes and heighten their fear, or even possess undead characters to directly control them and make them stronger and harder to defeat.
Additionally, if you separate the human team from one another by using traps or demonic powers to frighten them, you can earn the power to temporarily possess the survivors, which can be catastrophic if they turn on their own teammates.
Another entertaining strategy is to simply waste the survivors’ time by doing things like taking control of their car and pushing it off a cliff so they have to spend time walking around, or by taking control of a tree and smacking people in the face while they’re trying to relax by a campfire. You keep growing up and obtaining more powerful demonic skills, and it just feels so gloriously nasty.
Eventually, only the most determined and skilled players will be able to destroy you. In this type of game, I usually prefer to be on the side of the survivors rather than contend with their coordinated efforts to kill me as the monster, but Evil Dead quickly won my heart because it has the best monster mode I’ve ever played.
Evil Dead: The Game is a fantastic asymmetric multiplayer game that, like its inspiration, is much better than it deserves to be considering its annoying lack of polish and relative dearth of levels and options. Despite frequent issues with janky level geometry that causes unfair deaths and other dubious design decisions, playing as a survivor is a fantastic cooperative shooter experience.
In contrast, playing as the evil mastermind is just downright fantastic because of the hilariously fiendish ways you can mess with the other team. The single-player story missions are a miserable mess that I could have avoided having to complete in order to get unlocks, but everything else holds up to the standards of the vintage terrible movies that served as its inspiration.