Hail to the king, baby!
Gabrielle: What is my history with the Evil Dead franchise? I started it some years ago, as I do with any other movie, show, or general piece of media I engage with. Optimistic, hoping for a good time and something to take away from it. There’s a quote by Bruce Campbell that I can’t remember where I first found it, but it goes like ‘’You know when someone is an Evil Dead fan because they never shut up about it,’’ which rings absolutely true for me. It’s hard for me not to mention the franchise even as a passing mention when talking about the horror genre, and to say that I was excited about Evil Dead: The Game would be an incredible understatement.
Dan: I think it started in Middle School, but I can’t pinpoint a moment. I honestly cannot remember a life before Evil Dead. Everyone knows that Sam Raimi is one of my favorite directors (see how many times I’ve watched Spider-Man 1 starring Willem Dafoe). I would watch Evil Dead 2 on repeat in High School with the special Necronomicon edition, which still sits in my office…I dare not read from the book. But I was thinking about this the other day; Bruce Campbell is the first idol I got to ask a question to. I asked, “What does it feel like being such a badass?” or something silly. He then proceeded to cut me in half and ended with, “I don’t even know how to use a chainsaw. Look how sad that kid is.” Now I have a prayer candle of the man in my bedroom. So, uh, you could say Evil Dead and I are close.
I’ll swallow your soul!
Gabrielle: I moderately enjoy the asymmetrical horror genre. I’m not crazy about Dead By Daylight, but it’s something I can enjoy with friends. Friday the 13th had a great setting, and felt like it wanted to expand the horizons of the genre, but I never got to experience it as much as I could’ve since I got to it after the lawsuit that forced the developers to abandon the game. I’m pretty neutral when it comes to the genre, but I do see a tendency to get stuck in what has already been done before.
Dan: I would rather slam my head onto a hot stove while someone jams a flaming pitchfork through my ass than ever play Dead By Daylight again. It felt like literally playing in quicksand as a truck filled in the rest of the hole with cement. The killers and style choices are wonderful, but the game is one of the worst games I have ever played. Maybe it hurts more because it came on the heels of Friday the 13th, which made you feel like a real slasher teaching horny camp counselors abstinence.
Feast on this, motherfucker
Gabrielle: The main thing that distinguishes Evil Dead: The Game from the rest of its main counterparts in the genre is the ability to fight back. It was only logical to include combat, considering all the incredible, absolutely extra fight scenes we have across the movies and show. I consider Evil Dead the antithesis of the Slasher, as Ash turns into the unstoppable nightmare for the demons from hell.
Admittedly, I was unsure of how this would be translated into a video game genre notorious for focusing on escaping and feeling defenseless. However, I’m happy to say I’m impressed by the combat’s feeling. It might not reach the peak of over-the-topness we’ve seen in Evil Dead, like Mia slicing a demon in half with blood pouring from the sky or Ash jumping in slow-motion to connect the iconic chainsaw in his hand while in the air. But it still manages to strike a perfect balance of being extra and badass while dire and hard as you face hordes of demons.
There are lots of melee and ranged weapons, like shovels, shotguns, baseball bats, pickaxes, axes, double-barrels, and, of course, the Boomstick and Chainsaw. All of them can appear in distinct classes that change their stats and are separated into large, short, and special ammunition. Melee weapons have your typical light and heavy attack, and you’re able to stun your enemies, which will allow you to do a special attack. The combat feels heavy in the right way and generally responsive (Despite some issues that we will discuss later,) but these special attacks make it what it is. My favorite is the neck stabbing, turning, and elbow-head-popping-hit with the ax, which is absolutely great to see every time.
However, this can feel a lot less responsive when you play in multiplayer. I didn’t find really bothersome moments where you start glitching throughout the map, but there are a lot of situations where you’ll find yourself waiting a few seconds for the special attack to become available. Swinging your attacks can also feel somewhat clunky as they won’t always go in the direction you want them to, and the connection problems can make you feel like you’re not dealing any damage at times.
Dan: Guns are cool and all, but I can FUCKING SUPERMAN PUNCH A DEADITE WITH A CHAINSAW HAND. 10/10 game of the year. Each swing you make with a melee weapon is heavy and has a good feel to it as you fend off waves of deadites coming at you. It feels so rewarding to just beat down the deadites and bosses as they come your way. But Gab has the human crap covered…let’s talk demons, baby!
Everyone online plays as the Army of Darkness gang or the Evil Dead deadites…but me? It’s all about Ash vs. Evil Dead, baby. We went full Puppeteer for my rounds as the killers. Let me tell you what, getting to just play as the camera from the Evil Dead films would be worth a thousand dollars to me; getting to fly across the map, slamming through fences, and setting traps to make my friends pee their pants a little. (If you pee a little, let it dry, evaporate, and then you are good to go). Some of the coolest parts of knocking your friends around like pinballs are the variety of the ways you can do it.
Wanna spook them as a tree? Jump on into the tree and shimmy those branches.
Wanna take their car for a test drive and do a little hit and necronomiRUN? Possess that 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale and drive it off a cliff!
Wanna take control of a demon and just get your hands dirty? Every pawn is like your own personal punching bag to hit back with.
Playing as the bad guys rocks. Especially when you unlock the boss unit, who, in the Puppeteer’s case, vibrates so well that the game needs a 15-minute break after. They shoot out electricity and just genuinely look so cool that you can’t help but root for them even when you’re a hero.
Dead by dawn
Gabrielle: The setting must have been tough to do. A lot of Evil Dead happens around a single cabin and a cursed forest, with the exception of Army of Darkness and most of Ash vs. Evil Dead, which added their own flavor. This led to a very specific vibe that defines this world, which I feel was replicated to great results. The forests and abandoned cabins are grungy and old and let you know of the disturbing past that left them abandoned in the first place with bloodstains all over the walls, rats hanging from the ceiling, and more. The more urban places feel dreadful thanks to their very normal look altered by the over-the-top supernatural elements surrounding them. It’s perfect, and considering almost everything you’re going to see are original places, it’s a great achievement.
One thing I would like, though, is to see more places from the franchise and lore added for the original places. Just a nice detail that I think would add to the experience.
Dan: I am on the same page as Gab. I would like to see more of the other locations from the series. I would have loved to run around the streets of Elk Grove to fight in bars and other locations from the TV show. I do think the map has enough variety that I am not bored after a few rounds, though. There are plenty of interesting locations that make roaming around the map worth it. Also, driving around the map is a lot of fun!
Weren’t you an alone wolf?
Gabrielle: I have to say, I’m not much of a multiplayer kind of person. However, I remember how one of the first things I talked about with Dan back when we first met each other was how we were excited about Evil Dead: The Game. I’m excited to say that playing this on multiplayer is great. It’s, once again, very different from other asymmetrical horror games, where you have to go on your own so the killer can’t dispose of all of you at the same time. For the most part, Evil Dead: The Game motivates you to stay and face the horrors of the Necronomicon with your friends, as it becomes very hard to be on your own.
You can pick from a roster of characters from across the franchise, and in Ash’s case, even different versions of the character. These are separated into the classes Leader, Hunter, Warrior, and Support, which feel pretty different from one another from your individual feeling to how your group will do if the classes are not well balanced amongst the players. Destroying evil demons with your friends is so insanely fun I can surprisingly see myself playing frequently, which I don’t normally do with these kinds of games.
The single-player missions are pretty cool as well. Some recreate sequences from the franchise, and others are original objectives, both tending to be very straightforward but hellishly hard to the point that feels like the game hates you, not entirely in a bad way. If you try a few times and get the hang of it, learning how to traverse the map and how to dispose of the demons as fast as possible, you’ll be able to do it.
Dan: It was nice that this game actually kicked my ass…a lot? A whole lot of ass-kicking. There were some times when picking items up wasn’t working and was a little bit buggy, but overall it was a great experience. I do wish better items spawned for everyone because everyone just grabs things without even looking, so it’s impossible to actually have items of worth online for the most part unless you are extremely lucky.
Dan: I fucking love Evil Dead, and I fucking love Evil Dead: The Game. A whole lotta fuckin love here.
Gabrielle: There are things to fix, like connectivity issues and lack of accessibility settings, but these things are fixable. Evil Dead: The Game feels like a near-perfect Evil Dead experience and a revolutionary step for asymmetrical horror. Can’t wait to keep fucking up Deadites.