PLATFORM: PC, PS4/5, SWITCH, XBOX ONE/SERIES (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Following in the footsteps of heavy-hitters Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th, Evil Dead: The Game is an asymmetrical multiplayer offering that sticks close enough to the source material to make it a must-play for fans of the films and TV series but might not quite do enough (at least right now) to keep players invested for the long haul.
In its current form, players are able to participate in online matches against other humans, with the option of controlling either a survivor, who teams up with three other players to defeat a human-controlled demon, or as a Kandarian Demon whose task is to take down an entire team of survivors. You can also team up with other online survivors to take on a computer-controlled demon, if you wish, or go solo as part of a team of AI survivors against an AI demon, but it's worth noting that experience points and progression rewards are only given to those who play against human opponents.
The roster of playable characters includes 22 familiar faces from across the Evil Dead franchise, with several (including, infuriatingly, the fan favourite Pablo) being locked behind a variety of incredibly tough objectives. Each has their own unique set of abilities which complement each other well and push players to cooperate with each other to get the most out of their team. A handful of additional abilities are awarded as characters level up to specific milestones, so it's wise to settle on a favourite and unlock their full arsenal and reach their full potential as quickly as possible.
Playing as survivors, your mission is to scour the area to pick up weapons and supplies while clearing a series of objectives and fending off deadites. These objectives are the same every time you play - find map fragments, necronomicon pages and the Kandarian dagger before killing the Dark Ones - although the locations of these items changes so each game feels slightly different to any others. While you're doing that, the Demon - who could be a Warlord (Evil Dead's Henrietta), Puppeteer (Eligos from Ash vs Evil Dead) or Necromancer (Evil Ash from Army of Darkness) - will be hunting you down along with their undead army, trying to wipe you out before you can achieve your goal. While playing as a survivor is the most straightforward, controlling the Demon is very enjoyable too - stalking the survivors, setting traps, possessing vehicles (and other players) and generally making life hell for those who dare to try to take you down.
Five single player missions are also included, the completion of which unlocks additional characters and costumes. As fun as they can be, they're ridiculously difficult, placing you against seemingly impossible odds and with not so much as a checkpoint of restart point in your favour - if you die, that's it, you'll have to start again.
With tons of references to the source material, voices provided by members of the actual cast, and some really good looking environments and character models, Evil Dead: The Game does a lot of things right. There are a few downsides - movement can be a little bit clunky (you'll frequently get stuck on objects that you shouldn't get stuck on, and the lack of a jump button often means taking the long way around when it shouldn't really be necessary), aiming your attacks can be especially unpredictable, and the game as a whole does at times feel overwhelmingly difficult. Something else to bear in mind is that, as with any online game, the mileage you'll get out of it largely depends on the people you play with. Teaming up with random players online can be hit or miss in pretty much any game, with strangers often having the tendency to run about willy nilly and mess things up for everyone else by not paying attention to what's going on. However, if you've got a bunch of pals to play with, and you're all happy to communicate with each other, then games like this really come into their own. If you fall into the latter category and have a fondness for the Evil Dead, then you'll definitely have an absolutely groovy time.