I’ve been a fan of the Evil Dead franchise since I was six years old. I know that’s nuts but I can explain. Back in the ’90s, there was a man who would drive around the housing estate I grew up in and rent out videos from his van. I used to love looking out the front window of my house to watch the van’s lights come down the road. As he neared our house, my brothers and I would run out and see what he had for us to watch that week. One of the films that we regularly rented out was Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness. My older brother rented it out one night, found it amusing and thought my little brother and I would love it. He was right: I fell in love with that film and would rent it often, watching all the trailers before the film right to the moment where Ash wakes up in a future where the world has been destroyed. After waiting for the credits to end, I would watch the theatrical ending. I never liked it as much: I thought it was an alternative ending that didn’t happen.
Skip ahead to eighteen-year-old me at a car boot sale spotting Army of Darkness on a stall and picking it up with glee, only for the guy selling it to let me know it’s the third film in the franchise. With that, he sold me the original two films too. I watched Evil Dead at 4am and holy shit it was a scary movie, though people tend to just laugh at it these days. I soon became hooked on this awesome horror franchise. I came to know Bruce Campbell well; I bought games, DVDs, Blu-rays. I even went to a back-to-back showing of the trilogy at the cinema.
I feel I should mention the new game that has been out for a few weeks now. Evil Dead games have had a middling review career, starting with the iconic Commodor 64; Hail to the King being pretty terrible; a Fistful of Boomstick being awesome but dated, and Ressurection being daft but fun. And now we have Evil Dead: The Game which has changed game style once again from being a single player experience to what is now pretty much a multiplayer one with a single player element tacked on.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s not what I had hoped for either. When Bruce Campbell decided to retire from physically portraying Ash Williams after the cancellation of the Ash vs Evil Dead TV show, he quickly announced that he was returning to video games and appeared in Dead by Daylight, which has to be a homage to Evil Dead 2’s tag line Dead by Dawn. He then announced a new Evil Dead game was in the works, with many of the original actors returning to classic roles. Initially, I was excited… Until it was announced that this was a multiplayer game in the same vein as Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th. But Evil Dead: The Game is a must for all Evil Dead fans: the gore is satisfying, the game is visually stunning and the one-liners just keep on coming. You can play as any of several forms of Ash from the entire live action franchise as well as characters from the original movies and the TV show. Most characters can be played in the same way, and all perform kick-ass finishers. Some characters are locked behind single player missions which is actually something I’ve been crying out for: in-game content that you have to work for to unlock and not just retrieve from behind a pay wall. It feels like good oldschool gaming.
On the other hand, the single player mode is exactly what I feared: a replica of the same game. It’s fun at first, but also irritating as there are no check points, so if you’re right at the end of a mission and die you have to retrace the last thirty minutes all over again. Evil Dead: The Game is designed to be multiplayer and that’s where its strengths lie.
If you find yourself a team, you’ll have a blast traversing the two (yes, only two) maps given. I hope there’s more content to come, like the castle from Army of Darkness or the town from Fistfull of Boomstick… But if you get a team that just wants to do this solo, expect to get possesed a lot and lose to the Kandarian Demon. The heroes have different classes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, but mainly I stuck to one character I liked. I leveled them to beast mode and the levelling of the characters is noticable which is nice, but you can also play as the Kandarian Demon, which honestly is the most fun but most frantic as you need to move about quickly to mess up the hero characters. Each hero has a fear meter and you can do all sort of things to scare them, like possess a tree or car, or spawn enemies right on top of them. Eventually, as you get stronger you’ll unlock a “boss” character like the legendary Evil Ash, then you just go round and batter everyone. You do all this whilst the heroes are roaming the map looking for map pieces, pages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis and the Kandarian Dagger, weapons and ammo. It’s good fun but pretty much all you do, so this game gets fairly repetative… Then again, I played for fifteen hours, so what does that say about me?
The game itself plays really well but is kind of goofy (I suppose that’s Evil Dead for you): there are ledges and stones that characters get stuck on – with no jump button, it’s irritating as all hell. Cars flip very easily so I would avoid them, but then my fear meter would rise quickly. I clipped through characters and button prompts cancelled out if someone just touched my character. The shooting is solid, and the voice-overs are exactly what you would expect from the living legend that is Bruce Campbell. Each character class has abilities like healing, consuming fear or strength buffs which help out a tonne: if you have a great team that has each class and sticks together, you’ll basically be unstoppable.
If you’re a fan of Evil Dead and haven’t played this, then what the hell are you doing? Go play this game! Evil Dead: The Game is fun as hell. It’s full of the humour and silliness and gore and horror that Sam Raimi lovingly put in to the Evil Dead franchise. I just hope we get more content soon, and by that I mean not just skins but new wepons maps and inclusions of the Evil Dead reboot film. Overall, the game is sparce in content and repetative but really good fun and worth playing.
Anyway guys, have a great day, stay “groovy” and don’t forget to be nice to each other.