Evil Dead: The Game is the latest in an emerging cluster of horror-infused multiplayer games that started with Friday the 13th and Dead By Daylight back in 2017. What’s remarkable about this subgenre is the varied approaches developers can take, challenging groups of players to outwit their terrifying opponent, who is often plucked from the rich rogue’s gallery of iconic horror villains.
Featuring characters, stories, and locations from the Evil Dead series, there’s plenty of fan service at play in Evil Dead: The Game. However, what’s more important here is the game’s asymmetrical match format, pitting four survivors against not one villain, but an entire army of them, all controlled by a single opposing player. It’s a smart twist and, while not masterfully executed, it allows you to become a wicked Dungeon Master of sorts, laying traps with the power to assume control of your lackeys.
But how do matches play out in Evil Dead: The Game? With a Kandarian Demon on the loose, survivors must perform a banishing ritual that starts with locating three map fragments that point them to the location of a book and dagger. The maps themselves are pretty big, peppered with named landmarks and zones stitched together by roads, pathways, and dense forest. As survivors scramble to find those fragments, their menacing opponent will carefully monitor their progress, placing traps and portals from which grunt-like enemies will spawn, attacking nearby players.
If the map fragments are found, survivors will then need to obtain those aforementioned relics. Located in different zones, activating a relic will cause a supernatural ring to appear and, if players can then hold off an incoming invasion, they’ll grab the item and move onto the next one; once both have been collected, it’s time for the final showdown.
Both teams will make a mad rush for the ritual site, which is being guarded by The Dark Ones, AI-controller spectres that hurl projectiles at the good guys. If they manage to defeat them, the survivors will then need to hunker down once more and defend the Necronomicon from being attacked, triumphing over the dead. It may sound complex, but it doesn’t take long to learn the ropes, whether you’re playing on the side of good or evil. Each match has a familiar rhythm, switching between tense standoffs and those quieter stretches where both teams forage for resources.
Playing as a survivor, you have several Evil Dead characters to choose from, including various iterations of series icon, Ash Williams. To add a layer of strategy, the game features four classes and hero-specific abilities, encouraging you to adopt a particular playstyle. That said, all survivors play the same, navigating the map by foot or car with the same light and heavy melee attacks and access to a small arsenal of ranged weapons.
These gameplay systems mesh together nicely, but there’s nothing particularly brilliant or dynamic at work here. On top of that, most objectives simply have you gathering collectibles or fending off ambushes. It’s fair to say that playing as the Kandarian Demon is a hell of a lot more interesting.
You’ll spend most of the time disembodied, floating from zone to zone as you gather infernal energy orbs and interact with traps. The more pressure you put on the opposing team, the more in-match XP you’ll gain, giving you access to stronger powers and stats bonuses. At launch, you have three distinct armies to choose from, each with their own cannon fodder troops, elites, and powerful boss characters. An evil victory hinges on spending your energy wisely while trying to remain an active threat. In short, as the evil player, there is more gameplay variety, whether planning the perfect ambush, possessing terrified survivors, or leading your army’s boss into battle.
Beyond the core competitive game mode, there’s not much else to do in Evil Dead. A smattering of single player missions reimagine stories from the long-running horror series, from the original film through to the recent television show. We were more excited examining the skill trees for each character and demon army, unlocking new powers and bonuses to carry into our next match.