- Release Date (NA): May 13, 2022
- Release Date (EU): May 13, 2022
- Release Date (JP): May 13, 2022
- Publisher: Saber Interactive
- Developer: Saber Interactive
- Genres: Horror, Asymmetrical Multiplayer
- Also For: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Alright you primitive screwheads, listen up. This is Evil Dead: The Game. It’s a rated M, asymmetrical multiplayer survival horror game; Saber Interactive’s top of the line. That’s right, this sweet baby was developed in Fort Lauderdale, FL! Retails for about $39.99, or $59.99 for the deluxe edition. It’s got solo modes, challenges, and is primarily focused on cooperative and PVP online multiplayer. That’s right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. YOU GOT THAT?!
Okay, references and jokes aside I think it’s clear that I’m a huge Evil Dead fan. Horror is without a doubt my favorite genre of fiction, and Evil Dead brings such a distinct flavor to the genre that I fell in love pretty immediately with it. Despite that love, however, I admittedly never got into the other cooperative, licensed horror games on the market such as Friday the 13th: The Game or Dead By Daylight. Not because the type of game didn’t appeal to me, but because I was missing the key component that’s required to make the most of these games; friends to play with. Thankfully, however, we were provided multiple codes for the review of this game and I was able to spend some time getting truly into the game with fellow staff writer and Evil Dead fan, relauby. Together we dove in and tested every game mode, got acquainted with the core mechanics, and really set out to see what exactly this licensed property game had to offer.
Evil Dead: The Game is split between two general game modes: Survivors vs. Demons, and Missions. That’s… about it. There’s a tutorial to help you get acquainted with the gameplay of both Survivor and Demon sides, but the focus here is absolutely on the 4 vs 1 gameplay mode that became so popular with the aforementioned survival horror titles. While this absolutely isn’t a bad thing--and clearly has its place in the market--it does bum me out to see all of the eggs put into one basket, so to speak. It limits just how much content is available in-game, and as a result, will inevitably lead to fewer reasons to come back in the future should Saber Interactive not continually update the game with content. Is it a bummer? Yes. Is it also a proven model that continues to work for Dead By Daylight, and will likely work if applied here? Also yes. But more importantly, does it negatively impact what we already have here? For that, we’ll have to continue on and find out.
When it comes to the core game mode, it takes on the now-familiar “five player, four-on-one” gameplay style that these asymmetrical multiplayer games are known for; four players will take on the role of the goody little two-shoes survivors, while one player leads the Kandarian demons against them. For those looking to get in a bit of practice before going against another human player, or for those that simply aren’t interested in player-versus-player gaming, you can take on AI opponents both with a group of survivors, or solo as the demon. There’s also private lobbies available, offering a group of two or more the option to play together in a secluded game between friends. As I mentioned earlier, there is a solo mode but as of the writing of this review, it just consists of five missions that are loosely based on events and characters from the various films and individual TV show in the Evil Dead series.
The survivors are split into four classes; Leaders, Warriors, Hunters, and Supports. Leaders are a bit of a mix of combat and support, strong enough to hold their own against the Evil while providing auras to help boost the rest of the team. The Warrior is the most directly combat oriented class, inviting demons to come get some with incredible melee skills, and character-specific abilities mostly centered around both dealing out damage and being able to take a hit. Hunters take on the more “ranger” role, dealing damage from afar and being able to more easily scrounge for resources. And finally, support is exactly what it sounds like; the class that takes a back seat and offers buffs to bring out the best in the other three player classes. I find that each class differs slightly, they all manage to share the core gameplay style, feeling pretty similar across the board save for the specific abilities and class features of individual characters; no matter who you play as, you still have to wander the map, find resources, and fend off Evil. This is nice for getting folks to switch up characters and try new things, but ultimately contributes to the overall biggest complaint I have about the game, with content feeling so limited.
I’ve found that the survivor characters seem to be where it’s easiest to find a match, which makes sense when you can have a team of four survivors over one person playing the demon. However, the actual core gameplay for the survivors is pretty surface level. Even when each character has their different abilities and strengths, the bulk of the time is still spent searching for macguffins and trying to find better weapons or boosting items so you can stand up to the demon towards the end. It’s not boring per-say, but it does feel pretty shallow even after leveling some characters up significantly, and it led to me only being able to play a few matches at a time before I felt the urge to do something else. And with minimal gameplay beyond this game mode, that doesn’t particularly bode well for the lasting power of a game like this.
On the more Evil side of the gameplay, the Kandarian demons are split into three classes; the Warlord, the Puppeteer, and the Necromancer. The Warlord offers you the traditional deadite experience, possessing seemingly “normal” individuals as the minions, with Evil Dead II’s Henrietta Knowby as the class's boss. The Puppeteer features Eligos from season one of the franchise's television show Ash vs Evil Dead, and revolves significantly around the telekinetic and mind-manipulation abilities they had in said show. The Necromancer, meanwhile, allows you to command every worm infested son-of-a-bitch that ever died in battle, sicking armies of skeletons on the survivors under the lead of Evil Ash in this Army of Darkness-inspired class. And while the core of the Demon gameplay is pretty similar no matter which class you choose, it’s fun to see all three of these different “eras” of Evil Dead represented.
Also, there’s certainly some differences between each one, mostly involving the level-up abilities in each option, and the bosses individual abilities. But the core gameplay is pretty similar across all three; You’ll spend a good amount of time as the demon looking for energy to level yourself up, and to spend on the different abilities that each demon type gets. The rest of the time is spent hunting down survivors, taunting them through the various means to raise their fear, sending demonic minions of your class after them, and doing all you can to stop them from re-assembling the Necronomicon. Honestly, I feel like this is where the game truly shines from a gameplay perspective; the concept’s faithfulness to the franchise aside, the elements here are much less surface level and require a ton more strategy and planning than the survivor gameplay. And with it all taking direct inspiration from the licensed property the game’s based on, it offers a unique and memorable gameplay mode that truly feels special, and that it belongs to Evil Dead. Now if only finding a match where one can play as the Evil was as quick as finding a match for the survivors.
After each game, you’re awarded experience points for your player level, as well as character experience points for the character you played with. Leveling up your player level gives you spirit points that can be used to quickly level up the different survivors or demon classes for use in-game. These points can be dumped into one character, or spread across as many as you’d like, allowing you to quickly gain access to better abilities for each different character and class. Each individual character has different stats and ability trees, and they all cap out at level 25 (which is incredibly easy and quick to reach if you’re spending your spirit points wisely). The skill points earned from each character's level up can also be reset and reworked at any time, allowing for maximum experimenting with different loadouts on characters. It’s an element that I’m a fan of, making sure gameplay doesn’t get too stale from having one “main” character that you’re rewarded for using constantly. Now, does this change the fact that the bulk of the survivor gameplay is still pretty simple and surface level? Not at all. But it does add options to mix things up and helps keep each survivor from feeling too much like every other one.
For those looking to be lone wolves, taking on the armies of the dead alone; well there’s not a ton here for you. You can play the core game mode entirely with, and against, AI-controlled allies and demons, which offers the same general form of gameplay just without the added need of relying on other humans. This works… honestly about as well as you’d expect. Take the lackluster AI from the Survivors vs AI Demon game mode, and apply it to the three survivors that are supposed to be helping you but don’t. It just leaves you to accomplish all objectives on your own, but now with the added handicap of useless companions that get stuck on random objects, drop everything to all gang pile onto one deadite at a time, and stand by uselessly while their fellow AI companions bleed out. And to top it all off, you don’t even get any player or character XP for the trouble of slogging through this nightmare of a game mode. No thank you. Additionally, mission mode challenges exist, which at the time of writing there are five to complete. Each one puts you in the shoes of a different survivor and gives you objectives to complete with the reward of unlockable characters to earn, and collectible tapes from the loremaster of the series, Professor Knowby, that give a bit of fun insight on some previously less talked about aspect of the series; such as one of the first ones being the professor’s excavation of Castle Kandar from Army of Darkness, where they find a few relics of Ash’s time there.
All told, Evil Dead: The Game is definitely high on the entertainment value, even if only for short bursts of time; fans of asymmetrical multiplayer games will find the formula fine-tuned wonderfully here, and Evil Dead fans will relish the onslaught of references, easter eggs, and quotable moments that got poured into this game. In many ways, it feels like the game was made for fans of Evil Dead just as much as it was for players of these kinds of games. But with that said, I always appreciate when licensed property games can go all in and make an experience that’s enjoyable for more than just the pre-existing fans, which I believe Saber Interactive accomplished here. So if this game can bring more Evil Dead fans into gaming, and more gamers to Evil Dead, well then I think that may just be the best-case scenario for all involved. And with more content and DLC already on the way, here’s to hoping that the game can stay groovy for a good while to come.
- Simple yet fun gameplay
- Filled with Evil Dead references and Easter eggs
- Plenty of characters, classes, and boss creatures to fully level and keep you coming back for more
- Solo mode is challenging but rewarding
- Simple yet fun gameplay can easily get repetitive
- Little to do in game without diving fully into the multiplayer