Hardwired Review: “Evil Dead: The Game”
(HARDWIRED) - The wait is over. Deadites rejoice. Evil Dead: The Game finally arrived on May, Friday the 13th, in the year of our dark Kandarian lord 2022. It’s gory. It’s visceral. It’s everything Deadites crave. Saber Interactive brings Evil Dead into the asymmetrical horror game genre with one of the most fun and interesting takes on the formula yet. I’m Levi from Hardwired and I am your guide through all things macabre and gruesome. Let’s carve into the flesh of this game and break it down for you.
Evil Dead: The Game looks like Evil Dead. It breathes the feel of Evil Dead. The authenticity of this game is on point. You can feel the love that the developers and the artists have for the franchise. From a graphical viewpoint the visuals are glorious, creepy woods build a fantastically realized world.
WARNING: Parental discretion advised for language, violence and graphic imagery
There are several different biomes and landscapes, and they all look striking and hold up when compared to other games from the modern era. Unique weather adds variety to the world of Evil Dead. Eerie rain drenches the land cutting visibility down, and blood drenched snow makes the atmosphere that much creepier.
The fog is almost always present and adds an extra layer of uneasiness to the forests that you find yourself roaming through from objective to objective. There are plenty of downed trees that give the woods a realistic feel off set by the growths of gnarled, creepy looking trees that are aesthetically congruent with the overall appearance of the Evil Dead franchise.
Along with great environmental graphics, the game boasts film accurate character models. The characters all look like their film counterparts. I am not sure if characters such as Scotty, Henry the Red, Ed Getley, Annie Knowby, or Lord Arthur look 100% like their actors’ faces but that may have been intentional like in Friday the 13th: The Game. Many of the counselors in that game were based on certain characters from various films but with different faces so they didn’t have to pay the actors for their likenesses. Bruce Campbell gets the most love here, between four versions of Ash you get variety of flavorful representation.
I only have one complaint when it comes to the authenticity of Ash in this game. Oddly enough, it’s with the Ash that I main, Army of Darkness Ash. . My issue is with the default skin for this character, he’s wearing his torn-up clothes from the end of Evil Dead 2 but he also has his hydraulic gauntlet hand. In Army of Darkness Ash is taken prisoner and placed in stocks after he gets portaled into medieval times at the beginning of the film. They removed his chainsaw, so he’s only got his stump of his right wrist. He’s taken by his captors to a castle where they try to execute him by throwing him into a pit of Deadites. He defeats the undead and climbs out and is hailed as the prophesized one who will defeat the Evil and save mankind. He’s then clothed in what seems like their finest clothes and is being treated like a king. They then convince him to go on a quest for the Necronomicon (Or the Book of the Dead if you’re not familiar with Evil Dead, and if you’re not shame on you...it’s cinema at its finest). Then while equipping himself for his quest, he creates a hydraulic powered gauntlet to attach to his wrist. He’s then given a tunic sewn for him by Sheila (who is his love interest in the film). So, at no point did he ever have the hydraulic gauntlet attached to his wrist while wearing his torn-up clothes from Evil Dead 2. It’s a small gripe, but it still bothers me that the default skin has such an egregious error.
The Deadites are also rendered in all their grotesque magnificence. Henrietta is by far the most disturbing of the three to look at. Her muumuu is tattered and frayed to a mere neckpiece leaving most of her naked decomposing body exposed for you to see. Blood and pus abound. Her hair is wispy and thin, and her teeth are black with decay. She looks the same as she did in Ash Vs. Evil Dead though she’ll always live in my mind as she appeared in Evil Dead 2 screaming, “Someone’s in my fruit cellar! Someone with a fresh soul!!!” That’s a phrase that I still sometimes find myself yelling out when I enter a room. Many of the Deadites that Henrietta summons are basically just regular people who have been possessed and they wear a variety of different clothing styles.
Eligos looks much the same as he did in Ash Vs. Evil Dead as well. He is a demon who excels at toying with people’s minds. He’s even got the shaky shimmering lightning effect that was used on him in the TV show. His in-game model still gives me the same vibes as the Chatterer Cenobite from the Hellraiser franchise with his peeled open mouth exposing his teeth and bloody gums. His Deadite army also conjure up thoughts of Cenobites to me. Many of them are eyeless like Eligos, with the skin on their faces peeled back in the same horrific manner exposing their gums and teeth. Some of them have round sawblades and other things embedded into their foreheads as well. They also explode into a lightning storm that will damage you and your group when you deplete their health bar to zero.
Then finally there’s Evil Ash who was the main antagonist of Army of Darkness. He grew out of Ash’s shoulder in the film and was promptly blasted in the face point blank with a shotgun. He was then chainsawed to pieces and buried. However, when Ash failed to recite the sacred words when he retrieved the Necronomicon, he awakened the Army of the Dead and Evil Ash was pieced back together, though in an advanced state of decay. The Evil Ash in the game captures this look perfectly, though in a goopier detail on the face’s shotgun wounds. I also enjoy the star-shaped irises that they added into his eyes. His voice is augmented and he sounds more like a generic Deadite than he did in Army of Darkness. In the film it was just Bruce Campbell making a gruff voice, and I liked that voice better.
Speaking of sound, the game sounds like Evil Dead as well. The demons sound like they did in the various movies. They repeat themselves a lot, but honestly the demons in the movies repeat themselves as well. It’s always swallow souls this, swallow souls that. Ash still spits all the same catchphrases he’s thrown out for years, but why change perfection? There are a lot of repeat phrases in this game, but it’s a multiplayer game, so the lines you hear are usually indicative of a certain event that’s about to happen. It’s often times your cue to watch your back. I say it’s just part of the charm of the asymmetrical horror genre. When wearing a headset, the game’s 3D audio will also save your soul when you hear a Deadite roar from behind you and start rushing you, allowing you to turn around and send them packing back to hell.
Also on the subject of sound but shifting into scares, the demon player can lay traps that when a survivor runs across it, it will pop up a demon on your screen (And who wouldn’t be afraid of that face, that’s a face that only a mother could love) and it plays a sound that is so loud, that you can’t help but jump. Especially if you’re already in an intense fight with demons, and you’re low on health and you’re running away, and you hit one of those traps...blood pressure through the roof. The traps are really the things that scare you in the game. They can also set a trap to make certain trees attack you, and while the trees aren’t as evil as they are in the films, them hitting you while simultaneously roaring at you is basically another form of jump scare.
So, getting into the main mode for gameplay now. Evil Dead: The Game pits four survivors against one Kandarian Demon. Each game lasts thirty minutes. The objective for the four survivors is to gather three pieces of a map that were hidden by Professor Raymond Knowby.
The first thing you must do is pick your survivor. The game has four different survivor classes to choose from. There is the Leader class, which gives off an aura that increases the damage of their teammates that stay within it. This class consists of only Annie Knowby from Evil Dead 2 by default. Beating the solo missions can add Ash from Ash Vs Evil Dead and Lord Arthur from Army of Darkness as playable characters that fall within the Leader class.
Then there is the Warrior class, who are the characters that specialize in doing melee damage. There are three characters in this class, Ash from Army of Darkness, Scotty from The Evil Dead, and Henry the Red from Army of Darkness. There are no unlockable characters for this class so far.
Next up is the Hunter class, which consists of characters that have increased ranged damage. There are three characters in this class by default, Ash from Evil Dead 2, Ed Getley from Evil Dead 2, and Kelly Maxwell from Ash Vs Evil Dead. You can also unlock Amanda Fisher from Ash Vs Evil Dead for the Hunter class as well.
Finally, there is the Support class. These characters have different abilities that benefit the group either through healing them, or by giving them more shields. The default characters in this class consist of Ash from The Evil Dead, and his sister Cheryl from The Evil Dead. You can also unlock Pablo Simon Bolivar from Ash Vs Evil Dead through solo missions as another Support class character.
Every survivor has their own four unique abilities that make them powerful in their own ways. Each survivor can level up to 25 and you get a skill point for each level that you can put into your survivor’s skill tree. These skills can increase your damage, reduce the amount of damage you take from enemies, reduce the amount of fear that the enemy can cause to you, increase your stamina, so on and so forth.
You start each match unarmed and must find weapons, ammunition, and recovery items (ie Shemp’s Cola to refill your health or Amulets to add shields that bolster your health bar) to aid you in your mission. There are various melee and ranged weapons in the game. Some weapons do more damage than others and some are also faster to use than others. There is a dismemberment stat on weapons as well that can help you knock parts of Deadites off, weakening them. Then there’s Balance Damage which is a more important stack. The more balance damage a weapon has, the faster you stagger an enemy and then you can do a special move or a finisher to them. There are also varying qualities of weapons as well.
Around the map you can find supply crates as well. They too have varying colors and drop a weapon that is the same color as the box it comes out of. These boxes also drop bottles of Pink F which when your character picks them up you are given a stat point that you can then spend to upgrade your melee damage, ranged damage, health, fear, stamina, and shield. Fear is the most obscure, when you upgrade fear, it lowers the amount of fear your character gets from not being in a lit area or from demon traps and attacks. If your fear gets too high, the demon will be able to possess you and attack your teammates. You have to be strategic in allocating these points if you want to survive.
So as I was saying earlier, the objective when you start the game as a survivor is to collect three pieces of a map. Once the three pieces of the map have been found by the survivors, they reveal the location
of the Kandarian Dagger and the Lost Pages of the Necronomicon. |The players must go to either of these objectives, activate them, and stay inside of the glowing area until the meter fills up, at that point the objective is yours and then you move on to the other objective and retrieve it. After both of those items belong to the survivors they then must go to where the Necronomicon is located and use the daggers and pages to defeat The Dark Ones who are guarding the book which I can only describe as Ghostbusters-esque as you fire streams of energy at them, luckily you don’t have to worry about crossing the streams though. After The Dark Ones are destroyed then you must defend the book from the Demon’s forces for about 2 minutes. If the Demon is unable to destroy the book in that time, then the survivors win the game.
On the other side the player controlling the Kandarian Demon’s objective is to kill the four survivor players or destroy the book (which is your last-ditch effort if the survivors have destroyed The Dark Ones). Achieve this by becoming the highest threat level possible. The demon increases its threat level by gathering infernal energy orbs and using that energy to set traps and possess things. As your threat level raises, you can spend your points to increase your Infernal Energy, Possession, Basic Portal, Elite Portal, Boss Portal, Demon Vision, or Traps. Upgrades offer boons that can turn the tides of the undead war so make sure to put those points to use.
Evil Dead: The Game brings a fully fleshed out combat system to the asymmetrical horror genre that hasn’t been present before. Friday the 13th: The Game had a combat system but it was basically just land a hit on Jason...he’s stunned...run away. And on the other side if you’re Jason and you grabbed someone, they were pretty much dead unless they had a pocketknife. Dead By Daylight was pretty much just a high stakes game of hide and seek unless you were the killer. Evil Dead: The Game is the first to bring a robust combat system to the genre and it’s a lot of fun to bring the fight to the monsters that are terrifying you. There’s a dodge mechanic to avoid taking damage though it drains stamina so it must be used sparingly. The combat works great. Though sometimes you will be up against a rock or something when you use a special move, or a finishing move and it will cause the animation to glitch out in various ways. You might also end up getting stuck on said item until another enemy approaches you so you can use the special move on them to get yourself unstuck.
There are vehicles in the game that the survivors can use to traverse the map faster, however if you do get into a car, it gives away your position to the demon player. The demon player is also able to possess the car and run the survivors over so be careful. Sometimes the cars will also get caught on rocks or other obstacles on the terrain and they will be slingshotted around and usually end up upside down rendering them useless. It makes for entertaining glitches, but I’m sure it’s not intended to work that way. It’s not game breaking to me, I usually just have a laugh at it then prepare for the swarm of demons that are heading my way.
The game focuses a bit more on teamwork than other games from the genre, and so it is important to stay near your teammates. If you wander off and the demon player locates you by yourself, there’s a pretty good chance that they may pick you off. If your health bar is depleted by the enemy, you will fall to the ground and bleed out for about a minute before you die. Once you are dead, the other players on your team can pick up your soul and carry it to various altars throughout the map and resurrect you there. But if you die during the final battle to defend the book, you skip the bleed out phase and just straight up die and you are unable to be resurrected. While I appreciate that teamwork makes the
dream work in this game, the only bad thing is that if people leave a match or get disconnected, the game will not find a replacement for them and that leaves your team incredibly handicapped.
There are also solo missions that you can play. So far there are only five of them, but they are the closest thing the game has to a campaign mode. They are challenging, and they teach you how to play survivor well if you complete them. Completing each of these missions will unlock additional survivors and a new skin for the Leader class Ash. They also unlock recordings that give you an extra little bit of Evil Dead lore. Unfortunately this game doesn’t offer much in the way of offline play, no bots to fight, which can make the game a bit grindy as you don’t earn XP from these story missions.
Evil Dead: The Game is an enjoyable game that stays true to the aesthetic of the Evil Dead franchise. It brings fresh ideas to the asymmetrical horror genre. I’ve enjoyed the matches that I’ve played thus far. It’s over the top bloody which is one of the most important factors to me. More blood...more better. The only hang-ups I have are with the glitches which do sometimes affect gameplay. But it’s a great looking game, the violence is fantastic, and it’s based around a franchise that was a childhood favorite of mine. Evil Dead: The Game gets an 8/10. For Hardwired, this has been Levi Barner. Stay hungry for souls, my friends. See you next time!
Copyright 2022 KWTX. All rights reserved.