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Groovy – Evil Dead: The Game Review

5 min read
Key Art for Evil Dead: The Game illustrating characters fending off possessed monsters.

Movie tie-ins used to get a bad reputation for being cheap, uninspired marketing ploys, but that perception has changed over the last few years. Titles like Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, Alien: Isolation and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War prove that games based off films can work when thought and care are put into the project. Thankfully, continues that trend.

Developers are clearly fans of the Boomstick-wielding warrior and his ghoulish adventures. They've taken the DNA of the Evil Dead films and show, and have somehow successfully implanted it into a fun online asymmetrical PVP title. From the locations and characters to the gameplay mechanics, this is an absolute treat for Evil Dead fans and gamers alike.

Good? Bad? I'm The Guy With The Gun

Each match sees four survivors on a mission to close a portal from Hell whilst a fifth player attempts to stop them as a Kandarian Demon. The survivors have multiple stages to clear in order to win: collect pages of the Necronomicon, find the Kandarian Dagger, defeat the Dark Ones protecting the Book of the Dead, then finally close the portal. All whilst working together to find items and weapons in order to fend of the pesky Kandarian Demon hot on their heels. It's a lot to deal with, which makes teamwork absolutely crucial to winning. Survivors need to stick together to not only fight Deadites and complete each objective, but to also manage their fear level.

This bar gradually increases throughout the match, but dramatically so if you venture out alone or fall into any demon traps. Sticking with other players helps to stop the fear level increasing, as will lighting lanterns dotted across the map. If your meter maxes out, the demon player is alerted of your location and you're at risk of becoming possessed by them too. It's a clever mechanic that keeps players on their toes whilst mirroring the possessions and madness depicted in the films.

Survivors can choose to play as their favourite character across the entire trilogy and show, who are categorised into different classes. Leaders have buffing abilities for the team, Warriors excel in melee combat, Hunters shine with ranged weapons and the Support class are essentially healers. Each class have different special abilities that do make a massive difference when facing off countless demons, so a balanced team is recommended.

The combat itself is fun, if a little clunky and basic. Typically you're hacking Deadites with chainsaws and shovels or blasting them away with Boomsticks and other guns. A dodge button does come in handy when squaring off against more powerful demons, but the most exciting aspect of combat are the finisher moves. Get a Deadite's health bar low enough and you can activate a deliciously gory, over-the-top kill that feels like something straight out of the franchise's many killer set-pieces. Unsurprisingly the game is at its best when you're fending off Kandarian Demons with friends. Working together as Evil Dead characters, slicing and shooting across iconic locations – its an absolute blast.

Screenshot from Evil Dead: The Game of the player character in front of a fire.
Saber Interactive

I'll Swallow Your Soul!

For those who prefer a little chaos will have a great time as the Kandarian Demon. Players can choose between three demon types (read: classes) that have their own perks and abilities. To stop the survivors, the demon player have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. By absorbing glowing orbs generated around the map, the demon gains Infernal Energy that is used to plant traps, possess characters, and summon Deadites and demons. The more demonic actions you make, the more your power grows.

You move around from a first-person perspective that accurately portrays the demon POV from the films and show, which also means you move around the large map with speed too. Playing as the Kandarian Demon in particular showcases how well Saber Interactive have married up elements from the franchise into gameplay situations. You can set a trap that causes the possessed hand from Evil Dead II to jump out at a survivor, which also increases their fear level. During later stages in the match you can summon recognisable big bads – such as Henrietta and Evil Ash – to really test the survivors' combat skills. As mentioned before, the Kandarian Demon can even possess the human characters to cause havoc, which is a reoccurring feature across the Evil Dead series.

The difficulty level for demon players will depend on how well the survivors work together. Stopping a well-organised team can be a challenge in which you have to spend your Infernal Energy wisely and be smart with your traps and possessions. Facing an undisciplined team, however, means you're in for a hell of a good time as you cruelly terrorise the survivors one by one.

Screenshot of Evil Dead: The Game, showing a demon in medieval armour.
Saber Interactive

Hail To The King, Baby

There's a surprising amount of depth to Evil Dead: The Game outside of the regular PVP matches. Players earn skill points after each match which can be used to upgrade each character across their own skill tree. The large skill trees offer a reason to keep playing but they don't really make a gameplay difference until you start unlocking higher level skills. The game isn't entirely multiplayer only either, as there are Missions for solo players to take on. These short missions place you in familiar Evil Dead moments, as Ash and other characters, where you can unlock new playable characters on completion. The only issue, however, is that they are fiendishly difficult. The missions don't seem to balance out the fact you're playing solo, and some timed missions feel cruel when you're playing across a massive map.

Who knew an asymmetrical multiplayer game would be the perfect fit to pay homage to Sam Raimi‘s classic comedy series? Apparently Saber Interactive did. Evil Dead: The Game cleverly gives archetypal elements from the series frighteningly entertaining gameplay mechanics that will keep you coming back for more Deadite action.

Evil Dead: The Game is out now on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC.