On May 13th, just over a month away at the time of writing, the highly anticipated Evil Dead: The Game will be released.
Gameplay trailers have already been released in abundance. The game itself was originally due to release back in 2021, but at seemingly the last moment the developers decided to delay the game in order to develop and refine a single player mode.
The trailers themselves look really, really good. Gameplay looks absolutely amazing. This piece here will seek to assess what we know about the game, and it will then offer benchmarks and suggestions it will need or want to reach to be as good a game as it can be.
Let’s begin by talking about what we know.
The game will have an oppositional binary for multiplayer play
Ash Williams and his friends will oppose a being known as the Kandarian Demon who seems to have the support of AI controlled Deadites that will harass our heroes. We don’t know for certain yet, but it’s heavily implied that Ash and his friends will need to locate pages of the Kronorium scattered across the map in order to obtain the resources needed to banish the Kandarian Demon and attain victory. This is not too unlike Dead by Daylight, only the ‘Survivors’ here have quite a bit of ass kicking to them that will seem to make the role far more fast paced and intricate, while the ‘Killer’ can actually directly be dealt with rather than merely escaped.
The combat is incredibly defined and relatively graphic
Even on console, according to IGN, combat reaches a surprising average of around 75 FPS. This doesn’t make a large difference to the naked eye, but it does mean gameplay itself will be seamlessly smooth, which is a great thing. Combat with Deadites, or when the Kandarian Demon approaches Ash or his friends, is also quite graphic. With Ash himself wielding his signature hand chainsaw to go with his equally iconic ‘Boomstick’ shotgun, this isn’t too surprising. However, in recent years, game developers have shown some restraint in including particularly graphic content as to be able to sell their game worldwide — China, in particular, has stamped these sort of games down with bans over the years. As such, Evil Dead’s combat is sort of as if DOOM Eternal was in the third person.
Clean, collaborative multiplayer play will be needed to succeed
In order to defeat the Kandarian Demon, Ash and his friends, who all will be controlled by players on team, will need to locate pages of the Kronorium, assemble them, and only then can they eliminate it for good. Of course, tempting as it may be, they will have a tough time running and gunning everything down in sight, because the Kandarian Demon will also be controlled by a real player, who will not freely allow them to grab these pages and kill Deadites without opposition. This type of dynamic is actually quite similar to the one we saw in Hood: Outlaws & Legends, only imagine that the Sheriff is being played by an actual person rather than AI, and is presumably a lot faster and just as dangerous. This also incentives some degree of stealth and quite a lot of specific coordination for Ash and his friends, lest they fall to the Kandarian Demon.
Now that we have at least a broad albeit slightly vague idea of what we’re looking at, we can get to talking about what will be needed to make Evil Dead a good, memorable game
An efficient Day One
By no fault of its own, the fact that it has been delayed means there will natural skepticism surrounding it when it does launch. Evil Dead has offered a preorder bonus of two skins, the S-Mart Employee and Gallant Knight for Ash himself. That’s great and all, but would the $40 and skins be worth it if the game ends up being bugged?
Simply put, the game has to be in a reasonably stable state, where the average game isn’t interrupted by bugs that break the game. For reference, Elden Ring was pretty much totally bug-free at launch. In juxtaposition, Cyberpunk 2077 and Dying Light 2 were remarkably buggy at launch, and these three games got off to fast or very slow, irreparable starts as a result.
Multiplayer won’t have much of a shelf life if something ends up being so overcentralizing that it breaks the balance of the game. DOOM Eternal’s multiplayer somewhat has this problem, and as a result its player base is fairly poor for multiplayer competitive play. Hood: Outlaws & Legends also had this problem, causing the eventual death of the game outright. Fortunately, in 2022, balance patches are standard for multiplayer games. All it requires is that Boss Team Games diligently monitors core gameplay and ensures that anything that is too overpowered is promptly and properly corrected. If this is done, multiplayer looks fun and compelling enough to have a meaningful shelf life.
A variety of options in multiplayer
It doesn’t take much of a trained eye to see why this is ultimately necessary. Stale, one dimensional gameplay was ultimately the main catalyst for Hood: Outlaws & Legends’ eventual demise. Dead by Daylight has only ever had one game mode, but it is able to get away with this because it’s a broad, open world that isn’t confined to any one particular set of characters; as such, bringing in iconic names such as Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger has helped keep the game fresh. Evil Dead will presumably be bound to its own universe. Unless it takes a Smash Bros approach and brings in third party characters, which logically seems highly unlikely, gameplay could quite easily get to be stale. As such, while launching with only one multiplayer game mode is good and fine, Boss Team Games will need to get innovative lest this game join Hood in a fast, unfortunate grave.
A single player experience which is lengthy and meaningful
Evil Dead was reportedly only delayed because Boss Team Games decided at the last moment to include a single player mode. As such, this mode really needs to be fairly lengthy and meaningful. This wouldn’t actually be all that inconceivable, as Call of Duty tends to do this on a yearly basis for the most part. DOOM Eternal’s single player isn’t complicated in the slightest, yet it has historically boasted an incredible experience in that regard in every game since the first in 1993. As such, Evil Dead’s ace in the hole to potentially contend for awards at the end of the year could be its single player experience. They have an entire TV show and multiple movies of source material to go off of, so they definitely have the tools for the job. Hood: Outlaws & Legends has absolutely no single player experience, which didn’t help delay its eventual death.
And that’s it. Evil Dead naturally has both charm and gore alike in a totally unique way. A well structured, well rounded video game with what the franchise has to offer genuinely has Game of the Year potential. Considering what’s been released this year, that’s quite the hefty claim to make. It all comes down to Boss Team Games handling it properly, and ideally not simply viewing this classic franchise as an easy way to make a quick buck.