Evil Dead: The Game Game Review | Gaming

Platforms: Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Let’s get the obvious comparison out of the way – if you’ve played Dead by Daylight, then Evil Dead: The Game will be very, very familiar. An asymmetrical multiplayer horror game, players are cast into 4-vs-1 matches where four Survivors face off against a Kandarian demon, with one side trying to banish the undead from the world of the living by finding pages of the Necronomicon, and the other trying to, well, kill everyone instead.

Functionally, Evil Dead: The Game offers a fairly balanced approach to asymmetric gameplay. Playing as a Survivor feels challenging, but not insurmountable, with a range of melee and ranged weapons to dispatch Deadites with found scattered randomly around expansive maps, plus support items to provide defence buffs or healing mid-match. There’s also a nice, clear progression to matches – find sections of a map, then the totemic Kandarian Dagger, defeat the Evil Ones, then hold out against enemies while the Necronomicon does its thing.

Evil Dead: The Game

Playing as the Demon offers an entirely different experience, though. Players will spend most of their time as a disembodied essence, flying around the map in a first-person perspective, gobbling up energy to spend on setting ghastly traps, placing portals to spawn Deadites, and possessing objects and creatures to attack Survivors directly. While you’ll feel far more powerful as a Demon, success depends on tactically placing traps and impeding your opponents’ progress.

Evil Dead: The Game also has a neat approach to character levelling. Survivors can temporarily level up in each match by finding a substance called Pink F, improving their parameters for the duration of the game, while the player possessing the Demon does similar with the evil energy it swoops up. However, permanent upgrades can be purchased with two forms of experience earned after each match played. Skill points are unique to each character, while player experience also earns Spirit Points, which can be spent to nudge up character experience, earning more skill points. It’s a great reward cycle that makes even matches that end in defeat feel worthwhile.

However, the game faces two main problems. The first is a lack of variety. Of the four classes of Survivor characters – Leader, Warrior, Hunter, or Support – three feature some version of Ash Williams, the groovy, chainsaw-wielding Deadite slayer brought to iconic life in the films and TV show by Bruce Campbell. On the Demon side, there are no standout, recognisable characters, aside from… an evil version of Ash. However, each of the three Demon classes – Warlord, Puppeteer, and Necromancer – do at least offer distinct variations of torment to rain down on human opponents.

Evil Dead: The Game

The other problem is that there’s a ‘fun imbalance’ – playing as the Demon is always far more entertaining than as a Survivor. From simply swooshing around maps in the disembodied state to the range of sadistic traps and attacks you can unleash, the Demon is much more engaging. While Survivors have entertainingly gory finishing moves ripped straight from Sam Raimi’s nightmares, it’s not enough to compensate for their sometimes sluggish movement or basic attack patterns.

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While Evil Dead: The Game is at heart a multiplayer game, there are concessions to solo players, both in the ability to play the Survivor vs Demon mode against AI opponents – decent for a spot of practice, if nothing else – and with a series of single-player Missions. These are loose adaptations of the plots of the assorted Evil Dead movies and TV show – so loose that “abstractions” might be a more apt descriptor. In practice, they involve battling through hordes of Deadites to accomplish objectives connected to each on-screen instalment (putting Ash’s girlfriend Linda to rest, for instance).

Yet even after getting to grips with the game’s core mechanics in multiplayer, the solo missions prove unrelentingly, punishingly difficult – enemies swarm en masse, frequently overpowering through sheer force of numbers, while resources are scarce and the hero’s stamina comparatively low. These Missions feel as if they’re still scaled for four players, making them nigh on insurmountable alone. Currently, there are only five Missions though, so ignoring them until a balancing patch is (hopefully) pushed out won’t exactly be leaving a significant amount of the game untouched.

Whether Evil Dead: The Game proves to have the ‘legs’ of other asymmetric multiplayer horror games remains to be seen – after all, there’s only so many recognisable characters from the franchise to add as playable Survivors, only so many twists on Demons to mix up the gameplay – but it’s off to a promising start. It’s packed with easter eggs, making it a delight for fans of the cinematic series, and if it can make the Survivors a tad more interesting to play as in multiplayer and rebalance the difficulty of solo Missions, it could be almost as iconic as its source material.

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