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The idea of synthesizing all the moving parts of the evil Dead series into one cohesive package is a giant vicious Deadite in itself. But on top of that, transcending the medium of film and television and adapting it to a game genre as volatile as asymmetrical multiplayer? One would naturally wonder how Interactive Saber could possibly appease all possible audiences with EVIL DEAD: THE GAME, from veteran moviegoers to serious gamers who want a unique and engaging experience. But as someone who fits into both camps and recently spent an hour with the devs kicking Deadite’s ass (and kicking ass as Deadites), I can happily say that Saber Interactive has success. EVIL DEAD: THE GAME is asymmetrical multiplayer at its finest.
For those unfamiliar, asymmetrical multiplayer is a gameplay paradigm that heavily skews the power dynamic between two opposing teams. In the case of EVIL DEAD: THE GAMEfour players select a character from the roster of Ash Williams and his cronies around the world. evil Dead franchise (the “Survivor” team) to take on a player who controls the all-powerful Kandarian Demon (the “Killer” team).
The survivor team is full of familiar faces, including multiple iterations of Ash Williams as he appears throughout the evil Dead series, which means if you want to play the Avengers multiverse style as a team of four different ashes, the choice is yours. Expect to hear lots of jokes from Bruce Campbell, who returned to reprise his role along with nearly all of the original actors from the movies and TV series. If you’re feeling a bit more sadistic, you can choose to play as The Kandarian Demon, which gives you the ability to control and summon Deadites to hinder and destroy the team of survivors before they have the chance to use the Necronomicon to open a portal and excise evil.
A major question I had going into the preview was “How will this game stand out against its peers in the asymmetrical multiplayer space?” The genre is already well known for hits like Behavior Interactive’s Dead in broad daylightand becoming increasingly saturated with upcoming titles like Gun Media’s Chainsaw Massacre Game. Coming out of the preview, I felt Saber Interactive knocked it out of the park in a number of ways, but my biggest lesson was the sense of agency the gameplay offers both on the survivor side and on the side of the killer.
For starters, on the Survivor side, you have the option to select a character that fits one of four categories: Leader, Warrior, Hunter, or Support. Each character of their respective class holds certain abilities that match their archetype – for example, Cheryl in Support has an ability that heals the team as they converge around her. This system immediately introduces an element of complexity in the gameplay: how to create a synergy based on these classes? Do you want to be in the fray to fight, or do you prefer to seek out objectives and rally the team to success? Additionally, you have the option to upgrade your abilities via Pink-F boxes scattered throughout the map and gain access to a long list of weapons to choose from, from shotguns to medieval swords.
On the other hand, as a Kandarian Daemon, you have free rein to roam the map and collect Infernal Energy, which is used for all sorts of offensive options, from summoning Deadites to conjuring traps. and my favorite, possession. Think of it as if the survivors were in a big haunted house, and you’re the one with the master switch that controls everything from jumping traps to possessed trees and cars. Survivors themselves can even become possessed once their fear meters are maxed, giving you the ability to take control of their characters to smack their party members, waste all of their ammo, or separate them from the group . It’s also chaotic that it’s a truly unique and novel take on the genre that has never been seen before.
These complexity and agency factors are so important because they counteract a problem that often presents itself in asymmetric horror: redundancy. Continuously played matches can quickly stall if the gameplay is not complex and the same objectives need to be completed over and over again. The time I played EVIL DEAD: THE GAME left me hungry to explore more. How does the gameplay differ between survivors? How are the other weapons? How can I best optimize my team? And more importantly, I was excited to try playing as a killer again. Like a lot of other people who play asymmetrical multiplayer, I tend to prefer playing as a survivor rather than a killer, but playing as a Kandarian demon was such a blast I could see myself passing over to the side dark with EVIL DEAD.
EVIL DEAD: THE GAME really offers something for everyone. Those who have stuck with the franchise since Sam Raimi’s first film in 1981 will love the faithful homages and adaptations, and newcomers to the series will love the mix of action, horror and humor. Those familiar with asymmetrical multiplayer can expect a fresh and innovative take on the genre, what if you’re new to asymmetrical multiplayer? i can say with confidence EVIL DEAD: THE GAME will set the bar high for you.
EVIL DEAD: THE GAME will be released on PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Series X/S and PC via the Epic Games Store on May 13, 2022.