Evil Dead has always been one of my favorite horror series. Born in 1998, I was a little late for the series’ peak in popularity, but that never stopped my dad from showing a young me Army of Darkness late one night. I was completely enamored not only with the eerie practical effects of the series, but the combination of gritty horror and unapologetic camp is something that stuck with me. Cutting your own hand off and replacing it with a chainsaw is an undeniably dumb concept if you think too hard about it, but that doesn’t stop it from being so cool.
I came into Evil Dead: The Game with high expectations. Not only was I a die-hard Ash fan, but a fan of the asymmetric horror game franchise as well. I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into Dead by Daylight, and even played some lesser-known titles like Last Year: The Nightmare. A new game in this franchise has to work hard to impress me, and I’m happy to say that Evil Dead blew my expectations out of the water.
When talking about pros and cons, it’s a lot easier to discuss what I don’t like about the game. A lack of variety in the playable characters leads to a lot of games feeling a bit same-y. This is a bit nit-picky, as the game honestly puts a lot of credit into the variety of playable characters on both the survivors and demons, but it is an issue that starts to show itself when every game has someone lock-in Ash — Evil Dead immediately and you’re always fighting against the Necromancer.
I can’t blame people for wanting to play Ash, as he is the main character and the draw to the series for many fans, so thankfully we have three versions of the character to choose from. Honestly, the issue in variety is not so much the fault of the game itself. Each character is cleverly designed, with their own unique powers and playstyles that are further customized by a huge tree of buffs you can unlock by mastering the character.
The problem is more in the player base. Some characters, simply put, look a lot cooler than others. People are always going to pick the coolest looking characters, and unfortunately that can lead to a lack of variety in this player-versus-player setup. The game promises more characters in the future, and this is something that can easily be solved by making more “cool-looking characters.” I certainly hope that the developers don’t feel constrained by the source material, and add some original characters for both the human and the demon teams.
Another problem I have with the game is the killer camera. For some reason, the developers decided to make the killer’s camera (when not possessing a body) use the Unreal Engine’s physics. This means you accelerate gradually when moving forward, making navigation a tad hard at times. Not only that, but hitting obstacles around the map actually flips the object the camera is connected to, causing your view to topple on its side, which made me a bit motion sick while playing.
Kandarian Demon queue times are a bit long too, but that’s to be expected of the genre. Everyone wants to play the bad guy, it’s just human nature.
Outside of these complaints, the gameplay loop is surprisingly fun. On each map, survivors must find pieces of a map that points them to two objectives; The Necronomicon page and the Kandarian Dagger. Along the way, they have the chance to collect weapons and gear, and increase their skills. They need to make wise use of this opportunity, as each objective comes with a tense fight where the Kandarian Demon player is empowered greatly.
The Kandarian Demon player’s objective is to stop the humans from collecting these objects and ultimately dispelling them using the Necronomicon. They can do this in a variety of ways, including trapping the environment, summoning and controlling demonic minions, and even possessing other players and turning them against their team.
The power curve in the game is really interesting. Both the Kandarian Demon and the human players gradually increase in power of the course of the map, but where the players are rewarded for exploration and linearly increase their power by collecting better equipment, the Kandarian Demon is rewarded for directly engaging with the players and has windows of power rather than a direct increase. The Kandarian Demon has to physically collect power across the map to interact with the human players, greatly limiting what they can do outside of certain events. When players start to collect the Kandarian Dagger or summon the Necronomicon, the Kandarian Demon receives a passive recharge of their demon power, giving them the chance to really go all out on the players.
What this creates is an environment not only where the Kandarian must think strategically, planning ahead so as to not waste their power on a bad engagement that ultimately won’t slow the cast down, but also one where the human players have no choice but to work together unless they be overwhelmed by the Kandarian Demon at its peak of power. The ebb and flow of the game is incredibly balanced, offering plenty of back and forth between the humans and the Demon which keeps the game from pivoting too far in one direction.
In this sense, Evil Dead is the most symmetrical of the asymmetrical horror games. At no point does the game feel tipped too far in either direction, there’s always a chance for one side to come back and careful strategy must be employed by both sides from start to finish. There are plenty of chances to catch your breath, and snowballing feels pretty impossible. It only takes one slip-up for a well-geared survivor to go down, and great teamwork can always help turn the tide when it feels like the Demon is too great to topple.
The Final Word
It’s going to be hard to go back to Dead by Daylight and other games in the asymmetrical horror franchise after this game. Campy and full of action, Evil Dead still manages to throw in plenty of scares and tense moments as a human player, and playing the Demon offers a truly strategic experience where you still feel challenged. Powerful you may feel, but never overwhelmingly so, as humanity’s defenders can easily overcome a cocky and careless demon.
My only worry about Evil Dead: The Game is how long it can carry itself on its gameplay loop. The maps are huge and varied, but without more playable characters and incentive for players to try them, the game can run into an issue of repetitiveness that can kill it. The devs promise upcoming content, and I only hope fresh new updates can hit the game fast enough to keep it from getting stale.
Our Evil Dead: The Game review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!