Gaming

Evil Dead: The Game – PC Review – Good? Bad? I’m the Guy with A Great Game!

Alright you primitive screw-heads, listen up! – You see this? This Is my Evil Dead: The Game review! – It’s a 2,200 worded double-entendre riddled one! – eTeknix’s top of the line. – Shop teknix! Shop e-Teknix!

Ok, so I think it would be fair to say that ‘The Evil Dead‘ is a franchise which, despite a lot of repeated efforts, has never truly managed to break into the mainstream. I mean, how many of you reading this actually realised I stole a quote for this review’s opening line? (I hope some of you did!) – No, The Evil Dead is almost the very definition of a ‘fringe’ media product. One that has largely only managed to stay somewhat relevant over its circa 40-year history thanks to the continued efforts (and attention) of its relatively small, but exceptionally enthusiastic, fan base (of which I openly include myself).

Initially starting off as a trilogy of horror films (which admittedly turned more into comedies as they went on), the ‘Evil Dead’ repeatedly went through spates of relevancy and then extended dormancy. Even the release of the (really good) film reboot in 2013 didn’t manage to truly get things going again. All it did, as most things from this franchise seem to do, is keep the metaphorical chainsaw engine ticking over.

It was only following the release of the truly amazing ‘Starz’ TV series, Ash VS Evil Dead (aired from 2015 to 2018), that interest in the franchise was really taken to new heights. And, at the risk of making myself feel old, it also had the huge benefit of introducing the series to a whole new generation of fans. – With this in mind, therefore, it seemed more than a little logical (or predictable) that, sooner or later, a brand new Evil Dead gaming title would be on the way.

And, in late 2020, we finally got the confirmation!

Evil Dead: The Game

Developed by ‘Saber Interactive’, hope surrounding ‘The Evil Dead: The Game’ got off to an optimistic start as, by and large, they had a (mostly) excellent history and reputation when it came to their gaming titles. Albeit, one that did primarily seem to focus on ‘remasters’ rather than outright original releases. – Still, something new was coming from ‘The Evil Dead’. And better still, it was confirmed that we would be looking at a 4 v 1 coop title (arguably one of the best directions that this could’ve taken).

At this point though, we should point out that this is by no means the first gaming title ever released under the ‘Evil Dead’ umbrella. Sure, this new one is probably the biggest in overall scope, but it might surprise you to learn that there are (or have been) significantly more Evil Dead games than there have films. And, in adding a somewhat sober tone to the news of this new title, I think it would be fair to say that the gaming releases until this point had gotten a somewhat mixed response from fans (and worse from critics). No, none of them was outright awful, but in truth, none of them was particularly great either!

So, is this new ‘Evil Dead: The Game’ worth trying out? Well, I’ve had access to this game since its release last Friday, but when it comes to reviews of this type, I always prefer to get a solid bit of gameplay under my belt before leaping to any conclusions (ideally at least 20-hours). Hence why, I’ll concede now, that this review is not exactly hot on the heels of its release. – Without keeping you waiting any longer, however, let’s see how good (or bad) this actually is!

Gameplay – How it Works! (As Briefly As Possible)

Comparisons to ‘Dead by Daylight’ are almost inevitable for this title since, by and large, and at least on the surface, this does seem to have a very similar style of gameplay. It’s 4 ‘survivors’ facing 1 ‘killer’. Both sides have their goals, skill, abilities, and weaknesses. And, overall, there can only be one side that wins! – Once you start playing ‘Evil Dead: The Game’, however, you very quickly realise that a DBD clone this is not! Any comparisons to it are purely on the surface level only! – Evil Dead: The Game (which I’m simply going to refer to as ‘ED’ from this point on) is actually a far deeper and more complex title.

It is, in fact, so complex that I’m deliberately going to have to keep things relatively simple moving forward to avoid either boring you to death or making it sound like this game has ‘Civilization’ levels of complexity (which it does not!). – Just to give you an idea though, the fact that it enables in-game hints to appear by default should give you a fairly solid idea that this does have a pretty steep learning curve. – So, if you think I’ve missed something out here, look… Maybe I didn’t say every tiny syllable!

In terms of the actual gameplay, you can pick from a multitude of franchise characters, as both survivor and demon, with 4 generic ‘class’ options available. This offers a solid level of diversity, but arguably more for killers as the different ‘demons’ do require highly different styles of gameplay whereas the differences in survivors largely boil down to the special individual and/or team abilities. No, this isn’t like Overwatch where you ideally need a ‘tank/DPS/healer’ combo, but at the same time, the mechanics are there (albeit loosely deployed) and will undoubtedly reward the more organised teams.

The gameplay itself is fairly straightforward. As a survivor, your goal is to ‘banish’ the Evil Dead. To do this, you need to find map pieces to locate important artefacts which you then use to defeat the presence (aka ‘The Dark Ones’). No, perhaps surprisingly, your main objective is not to directly defeat the ‘Kandarian demon’ player who is merely attempting to kill/stop you. – The only frustrating aspect of this is finding the three initial map pieces (which are deliberately a bit awkward to find so as to allow the demon to level up and prep a little).

As both survivor and demon though, you spawn effectively naked. So for the former, you’re actively encouraged to explore to find stronger and/or better weapons whereas as the demon, you need to start earning yourself some XP to unlock more stronger abilities.

Playing as the demon is where things generally get massively more complicated, but in truth, it is probably the more satisfying role as you attempt to place traps and, effectively, outthink and outplay your opponents. It’s always nice to see a plan come together and the chaos you can create is pretty amazing!

The game does allow for character unlocks (both as survivor and killer) which can be used to improve abilities, and while this is a logical progression system, it’s not without its problems (which I’ll get onto later) – In combination with an in-round character ability unlock (for both demon and survivor) though, this again adds a solid level of depth, and more so, a bit of variety to your gameplay.

Overall, ED is a surprisingly complicated title, and this is definitely a factor which may catch many ‘casual’ players off guard. I can see a lot of people buying this, playing it for an hour, and quitting altogether in a state of frustrated confusion. Easy to learn it is not! – I mean, if you love the relative simplicity of DbD, this is probably not going to be for you. – If you do catch the fever here though, and can survive the first 3-5 rounds of looking for a metaphorical black cat in a dark room, this definitely rewards you the more you play, and, of course, the more you learn.

The Good & The (Not So) Bad!

As someone who is a huge fan of ‘The Evil Dead’, this finally feels like the gaming title this series has long deserved. It is perfect? God no. – If nothing else though, for a game as surprisingly deep and complex as this legitimately is, it’s genuinely impressive that this has landed in such a solid and fun condition. – In the hands of a lesser developer, this could have (if not would have!) been an absolute mess on arrival.

There are definitely some issues to work out. Chief among those for me is the mildly clunky controls (both in terms of playing and interface) and the fact that if you’re playing with trolling, rage quitting, and/or ‘bad’ teammates (as a survivor) defeat is practically guaranteed within minutes of starting. And yes, you DO get punished for quitting a round before it has concluded.

On the whole though, and for a surprisingly affordable price of £31.99, this is definitely worth a look for any fan of the Evil Dead series. Even the most casual among you! – And yes, even the PC version (which is usually at the lowest tier of importance when it comes to ports) runs exceptionally well. I’ve noted zero stutters, zero frame drops, and not a single crash so far!

No, this game is not for the timid, but for the masses of games released within this genre, Evil Dead: The Game is the most polished and deepest title we’ve seen so far! And arguably, the best executed on launch too! – My only regret is that it’s so complicated to play that it’s borderline impossible to describe!

Good Points in Brief:

  • Crossplay is available across all consoles and PC. And yes, it works really well too!
  • The map is nice and large – Exploration isn’t a hugely key feature of this game, but the various RNG location of items does keep thing fresh for a surprisingly long amount of time
  • Combat systems are well thought out, albeit slightly clunky at times
  • The in-round upgrade/unlock system (for both survivor and demon) is really excellent and fun to experiment with
  • Playing with friends is hugely fun, but unlike DBD, voice coms don’t really offer you any huge gameplay advantage – Survivors are generally encouraged to stick together!
  • Plenty of variety both as survivor and demon – You’ll happily want to play on both sides!
  • Character animations are really smooth – Especially so with the ‘finisher/execution’ moves
  • Offline gameplay is open! – Yes, you can play with or against AI bots (and they’re pretty s-mart too)!
  • A love letter to fans of the Evil Dead franchise
  • This offers a level of gameplay depth that vastly exceeds its more basic genre predecessors
  • Surprisingly polished on release! Yes, sadly we have to credit games for such things these days! – More so the fact, however, that this has a lot of complicated mechanics that could’ve easily been cocked up!

Bad Points in Brief:

  • Controls and particularly the in-game item interface feel really clunky at times! (picking up items and accessing your map, etc. all require DEAD stops)
  • The current ‘over the shoulder’ camera style as a survivor doesn’t feel as fine-tuned as it could be when attacking multiple enemies
  • Having in-game chat enabled by default (with the lack of any push to talk control) is just opening the doors to some potential problems with toxic users
  • As a survivor, games can be frustrating when playing with noobs, idiots, trolls. – You can pretty quickly determine if you’re going to have a chance of winning within the first 2-minutes
  • The character rank-up system could create MMR problems for those new to the game coming up against experienced players
  • Lacks the slapstick comedy aspect of the films. – The only time this really comes up is when you open a trapped crate (mini Ash’s, Ash’s possessed hand, etc. make appearances here)
  • The in-game tutorials are absolute garbage! – For new players, these teach you (as survivor or demon) practically nothing! – You want to learn how to play this game in a fun stress-free manner? Ignore the tutorial and play the AI bots!

Make of This What You Will:

  • The PC version is currently exclusive to the Epic Games Store – I’ll leave this at that!

Worth A Buy?

On the whole, Evil Dead: The Game is excellent. And of the issues that are present, there’s absolutely nothing here that overly detracts from the title, or, more specifically, outright breaks it! – What we currently have is excellent, and what it lacks (a little) can be easily fixed in future patches!

More than anything, I continually seem to keep feeling the same incredulity that this is such a polished title that works so well on its release! Somehow, despite my relative optimism over the last 18-months, I always somewhat expected that this would be a disaster. A buggy glitched filled mess that would effectively see this being Evil Dead on arrival. It’s simply not. – It’s actually really good fun! Admittedly though, it gets a LOT more fun once you really learn how to play it (which will take some time!).

More casual or passing fans of the franchise may prefer to wait for a sale, but if you want to check this out, you can visit the official Epic Games Store product website via the link here! – For me though, while not the best game I’ve played in 2022, this is, without a doubt, my surprise hit of the year (so far)!

AGAINST ALL EXPECTATIONS, IT’S NOT BAD! – IT’S ACTUALLY A GOODIE LITTLE TWO SHOES!

What do you think? – Let us know in the comments!

Evil Dead: The Game – PC Version
Mike Sanders

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