My games to the final version of ‘Evil Dead: The Game’, which came out this week, They have made me ask myself two questions that I think the game answers quite sensibly. The first is why ’80s horror franchises are so obsessed with asymmetrical multiplayer. The second is why we don’t have games like this anymore: modest, concise, for quick games, uncomplicated.
As for the first, which asks for less nuanced answers, it may be something as simple as the four-on-one versus mode in ‘Left 4 Dead 2‘, the genre’s first big hit, was pure horror. But so have other variant successes: ‘Back 4 Blood‘, ‘Aliens vs. Predator’, ‘Friday the 13th’, ‘Secret Neighbor’ and, of course, ‘Dead by Daylight‘, which includes content from franchises such as ‘Halloween’, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, ‘Evil Dead’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Scream’, ‘Silent Hill’, ‘Resident Evil’, ‘Hellraiser’ or ‘Ringu’.
But apart there is something in the nature of these mechanics that takes us back to iconic monster movies. If a single player can pummel four others, it’s because he’s at least four times as powerful. A monster lord. This is a terrifying approach and one that fits franchises like ‘Evil Dead’, where deadites they are extremely aggressive hell creatures and with powers beyond reason: possession, teleportation, control of natural phenomena and objects.
‘Evil Dead: The Game’ works especially well in that regard: each game is a four-minute bout in which players -who can choose one of four very essential classes, basically a leader, a healer and two weapons experts of fire and melee – they have to carry out a series of quests for objects and survival. The superiority of the demons is total, and the combat, very little exquisite: the gore brutality of the movies is well reflected in games that are deafening combats with shots and almost constant blows.
This frenzy lasts half an hour, less if the demon does its job well, and this is all the game has to offer, plus a little gift for fans: the ability to play special levels with AI controlled enemiesand inspired and passages from the sam raimi trilogy and the series ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’. And that “This is it” is what brings us to the second question.
The delights of the middle series
Recently, chatting with a friend about the benefits of backwards compatibility, we all agreed on a console that is particularly memorable, and especially complex to emulate on current hardware to recover its games: Playstation 3. In my case, it is a time brimming with technically very competent and sophisticated games, still a long way from the indies, but that did not want to compete with the Triple A: it was the reign of the middle series.
I miss those PS2 and PS3 times of medium games, limited ambitions, often cross-platform, never topping the charts, but they were full of ideas and good intentions: from ‘God Hand’ to ‘Conan’, going through ‘Shadows of the Damned’, ‘Splatterhouse’, ‘Bulletstorm’, ‘Saboteur’ or ‘Asura’s Wrath’ among countless others. ‘Evil Dead: The Game’ recovers that flavor a bit.
The conciseness of the scenes of the three films (remember: those sets are literally a cabin, a forest without much history and a medieval wasteland) ask not to be multiplied or enriched, but to be reproduced as accurately as possible. After four games we know many of the main decorations of the game perfectly, but it is good that it is so, it is perfectly consistent with the spirit of series B entertainment that fits so well with its source of inspiration.
Of course there are more scenarios (but not many, since certain characteristics such as vehicles or the need to turn on light sources continuously so that panic does not defeat us greatly condition the game spaces). But since the limited variety of characters available (barely a dozen humans and three demons) works in favor of a game of fast and frenetic games, and where precision and technique are not rewarded as much as courage and quick reflexes.
‘Evil Dead: The Game’ is not a game to play for two years, but for a few weeks, until you squeeze the 40 euros it costs. It is a title made with enough care so that fans of the franchise enjoy every corner, the exquisite detail with which the cabin has been replicated, the weapons and vehicles full of references and the ingenuity that overflows its missions for a player. But that does not require much time or much effort. Perhaps what we miss the most in games: fast, fulminating, fun and memorable experiences.