Saber Interactive's Evil Dead: The Game is now out in the wild, and we've spent a little bit of time digging in over the weekend. This is a fairly deep multiplayer-focused experience, much like the ever-popular Dead by Daylight, and we haven't had enough time with it for a full review. However, our initial impressions are positive, so here are our opening thoughts after a few hours of 'hands on' time with Evil Dead.
First up, we spent the majority of our play time on Xbox Series X, where visuals and performance are pretty impressive. It's not the greatest looking game ever conceived, but it gets the tone and the atmosphere of Evil Dead just right. As this is an online-focused affair, the smooth 60fps playback was a real treat too, even if some minor bugs persist in the current build.
As for the gameplay itself, our first tip would be to play through the game's tutorials. Yeah, we know, they can be tedious, but Evil Dead is a deep game with tons of mechanics, weapons, character upgrades, abilities and the likes, and the included tutorials do ease you in. After a good few hours we've not come close to learning everything Evil Dead's multiplayer suite has to offer, so do yourself a favour a load up those tutorials.
Once they're out of the way, the meat of Evil Dead is in its 4v1 multiplayer mode, containing a 'survivor' and a 'killer' way to play. We spent most of our time with a friend in survivor mode, where you'll take to the woods as one of the game's survivor characters. These can be upgraded — both persistently and within a match — and each character has certain abilities and a matching playstyle. Of course, the franchise's main character Ash Williams is a popular choice at launch and the fact that different versions of him are spread across class types is ideal, but we opted to spend time with Henry the Red, one of the game's 'Warrior' classes.
Henry felt like a solid beginner choice - he starts with additional health and a shield ability for brief periods of invulnerability. However, much of your toolset is found within games, with melee and ranged weapons scattered around alongside healing potions, matches for lighting fires and tons more. Finding a good melee option early on is crucial, as much of combat revolves around light, heavy and finishing moves using melee. You'll probably want a higher rarity weapon as games go on too, as later combat scenarios can get tough, depending on the killer's ability level.
Said killer will be frequently spawning in monsters to hamper your progress, and these AI form the meat of combat. The killer can possess certain demons throughout — and even enemy players if their fear levels are raised — so be aware that from time to time, you'll be fighting a player-controlled monster. Thankfully, combat is fun and satisfying even against AI bots, who can definitely put up a fight if too many pile on the pressure at once.
The general objective as a survivor is to complete different stages of a ritual, to banish the enemies and ultimately win out over the killer. You'll be finding map pieces, defending objectives and such, and there's a satisfying sense of progression during each match. Even after just a few hours though, these objectives did become somewhat repetitive, and we'd like Evil Dead to introduce a few variations on its 4v1 mode in future, even if just to add a bit more longevity to proceedings.
We've only played a couple of games as the killer, and we're still to get a real grasp on the full killer mechanics. What we can say is that early on the survivors seem much more likely to take victory, as most games have ended in survivor victory regardless of which side we've played on. Spawning and possessing enemies as the killer feels a little finnicky right now, but hopefully we get a better grasp on those mechanics as time goes on.
One area Evil Dead: The Game really does excel in is its overall atmosphere. The maps ooze Evil Dead and are incredibly atmospheric throughout. If you've spent any time with Friday the 13th: The Game, this is very much that, but for the Evil Dead franchise. Thankfully, things are generally more polished here than with Illfonic's effort, and that does help deliver a pretty satisfying Evil Dead experience.
Overall, we've had a great time with Evil Dead: The Game so far. It remains to be seen how much longevity the game will have, and ultimately, whether its player base will stick around, so if the multiplayer focus does worry you, it might be worth holding off to see where the game goes. If what's here already is appealing then it's probably worth jumping in, doubly so if you're a huge Evil Dead fan. Most of the game's modes are playable purely with AI, so it's not an empty purchase if the multiplayer community starts to dwindle. For now though, it's alive and kicking even when the Kandarian Demon is no more.
Have you bought Evil Dead: The Game? How are you getting on with it so far? Tell us down below.