Evil Dead: The Game; Symmetrical Asymmetry


   Evil Dead is a pretty well-known horror franchise. When the first movie hit the big screen on October 15, 1981, it was a pretty world renowned film, spawning two other movies to follow it later on down the line. The second movie, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, was a bit screwy, as the directors lost the rights to their own property so they had to retell the story briefly while adding the new things they wanted to within it. 

   The main plot follows the main character Ashley J. Williams, aka Ash, and his group going up to a cabin in the woods for a weekend. The group consists of characters like Ash’s sister Cheryl, his girlfriend Linda, his friend Scotty, and Scotty’s girlfriend, Shelly. While in the cabin, they go into the cellar and find a creepy book, known as the Necronomicon Ex Mortis (The Book of the Dead). Within it lies ancient incantations that when read out loud, connect the world of demons with our own. Like stupid college kids, they read it out loud and hell ensues. People get possessed, Ash ends up killing his loved ones because of said possession, he’s traumatized, etcetera etcetera, it’s a whole thing.

   The movie’s success followed lots of media being produced, like comic books, television shorts, merchandise, and even video games. The video games were very much nothing to write home about, until May 13, 2022 rolled around.

   Evil Dead: The Game saw a return to form for the Evil Dead video game franchise and really showed that there are still people involved in the series that still care about it. It is fanservice in its highest right. 

   The type of video game  kind of put me off at first glance. It’s an asymmetrical third person shooter. The game is online multiplayer, which means that four people, or “survivors” work together for the common goals needed to lead the player controlling the “demon” to expulsion.

  It’s fairly simple; 30 minute matches in a large map with the same five objectives. In between every phase of the objectives, survivors are given the freedom to go off the beaten path and loot houses, forests, and other places you’d find weapons and materials in.

   Evil Dead: The Game has what I would like to call “week one syndrome,” meaning that since it just came out, it’s bound to house plentiful bugs and have the balancing be a bit wonky. 

   The demon, controlled by one person, has to stop the four survivors from ridding the world of evil, and in order to do so, the demon must scout out the map and stalk the survivors. The demon’s main powers are to spawn portals that spit out deadites, the common enemy that the survivors get occupied killing, jumpscaring the survivors to raise their “fear meter,” which lets the demon possess and control the survivor, and take the reigns of the main enemy, or “boss.” The bosses have tons of health and their own unique abilities that, when used right, can be a big threat to the survivors. However, if you’re acquainted with button mashing, you’ll win the game just fine. The demon is very overpowered and has a little too much hand holding… that is, if the survivors are taking their precious time looting.

   The main idea is that the demon is constantly getting stronger as time goes on. If the survivors are taking too long to complete the objectives, the demon gets more capable of killing them. Thus, it’s a clean sweep if you have a group of people that know what they’re doing.

   There’s a lot to get excited about with this installment in the Evil Dead franchise, with basically all of the characters you can think of being playable and having their own unique play style, despite being broken up into categories. Every Ash is playable, housing different abilities and appearances for each character, and other minor and major characters are available to learn and grow with as well. 

   I think where many companies who revive a series fall short is having copious amounts of fanservice and not enough new content to justify its release. Tapping into nostalgia is great, but it gets repetitive when it’s their only gimmick, if it’s considered a gimmick at all. Evil Dead: The Game does it very right by including those things that longtime fans love, while also mostly doing new things. Familiar settings like the cabin are present and available to explore, and all of these old characters are playable with references and Ash Williams’ snarkiness aplenty. It’s fanservice, sure, but in a very well executed way. 

   There’s some single player with the promise of downloadable content (DLC) and more missions from the dev team, but so far the only thing making the game worth playing is the multiplayer. Granted, it’s the main dish, but I guess I just wished for more freedom if you’re not feeling like depending on random people to pick up your own slack. There is, of course, the option to play the asymmetrical multiplayer with AI, but you can’t level up your character or own personal level. I find that kind of smelly. 

   There are five missions to play through, all of them having short play times and revisiting scenarios from the three movies and the Ash vs. Evil Dead television show. There is a lot to say about these. For one, there are missions that you can knock out in ten minutes, and a mission you can knock out in 40 minutes, if you’re good. Some are timed, some are free, and some follow a restricted play style. The biggest thing is that if you screw up and die, you have to restart the mission from the beginning. Nooooo thank you. This is especially tedious when you get to that 40 minute mission where most of it is just trailing to the next destination. Not to mention its difficulty. 

   I’ve been mostly complaining about this game, but that’s because there is so much wrong with it right now. I do genuinely enjoy it because I’m a huge fan of the Evil Dead series, but I just wish they put a little more thought into it. Don’t get me wrong, there is much to be happy about and overall, I am very satisfied with this game. I feel that the game will improve as time goes on, but I hope the problems don’t deter people from playing it. I can’t wait to see what this game will be… Well, what it WILL be, or what it WOULD be? Make your move, dev team.