The horror multiplayer genre makes perfect sense to me. One player takes on the role of a terrifying, nigh-on-unstoppable villain and the other four play as survivors. The imbalance in power makes the gameplay loop all the more fun. Additionally, the diversity of characters adds in a healthy smattering of replay value. Throw in some licensed character DLCs and a new mode here and there and you’ve got yourself a winner. Just look at Dead By Daylight. That’s somehow still going strong. However, what these multiplayer experiences tend to lack – rather unsurprisingly – is a single-player mode. And that’s my jam. Fortunately, Evil Dead: The Game, a multiplayer-focused horror game based on the popular films from the 80s, offers content for those wishing to be spooked alone. Unfortunately, it’s not very good.
“Your enjoyment of the solo content is going to entirely depend on whether you jive with the game’s loop. Unfortunately, I did not.”
As a solo player, you’re going to get about as much content as those with friends will have. You can play as a survivor against the Kandarian Demon with the rest of your team filled with bots. You’ll get access to all of the survivors available in multiplayer and will still get the opportunity to unlock new skins through the solo-only missions. Suffice to say, you’re getting the whole package.
However, your enjoyment of the solo content is going to entirely depend on whether you jive with the game’s loop. Unfortunately, I did not. Evil Dead: The Game becomes arduously repetitive rather quickly. It forces you to undergo the same dull and effortless tasks over and over again with little to no meaningful reward for doing so.
As a survivor, you must explore a semi-open environment searching for map pieces. Once you’ve collected all three, you must stand near two different objective markers and wait for a bar to fill up. Finally, you have to defeat The Dark Ones before once again standing next to an objective marker. Of course, the difficulty ramps up the longer you play. During these stand-and-wait sections, you’ll often be left exposed. This, by virtue of its design, means that it’ll be harder to stay alive.
Unfortunately, after the first few times, this content does not become any more exciting. You’re still lackadaisically exploring ridiculously dark maps with the occasional enemy popping out to attack you in search of a reference from the movies. Great. To make matters worse, on launch there are only two maps. Ostensibly, this cuts down on replayability quite significantly, with the only alternating variable being the location of your objectives.
“Wasting time on upgrading the survivors felt nonsensical as I wasn’t particularly enjoying my time with the game anyway.”
Of course, there are multiple survivors and Kandarian Demon armies for players to choose from. The survivors are likely going to be the best form of entertainment for fans of the original movies. The likenesses are fantastic, and the range of characters on offer here is substantial. You can even play as four different versions of Ash Williams if you feel so inclined.
Unfortunately, none of these survivors play particularly differently from one another. Beyond their basic ability. each survivor runs the same, fights the same and uses the same flashlight. This is because you utilise weapons found across the map, as opposed to ones intrinsically tied to your particular character.
There is a skill tree unique to each survivor which heightens their abilities and unlocks new ones. However, due to the tedious nature of the gameplay, I never felt inclined to pursue any of these. Wasting time on upgrading these characters felt nonsensical to me as I wasn’t particularly enjoying my time with the game anyway.
“The AI controlling the Kandarian Demon in Evil Dead: The Game struggles to keep up with you.”
Of course, and this is perhaps to be expected, all of this is made infinitely worse by the poor AI. Like with the majority of games in this genre, the AI is just not smart enough to make it an engaging experience. Your AI survivors will follow you around incessantly, making the early game ridiculously easy. This means, for example, that they won’t deviate from your path to collect other pieces of the map for you in order to save time.
Similarly, the AI controlling the Kandarian Demon struggles to keep up with you, throwing a few enemies your way here and there, but never really being anything other than a thorn in your side. This also makes the game considerably less scary – not that it is to begin with – as you never have to fear dying or running into terrifying creatures while exploring.
Unfortunately, this stops being the case when you reach The Dark Ones. The difficulty ramps up to a level that your AI companions simply aren’t equipped to deal with it. They’ll stand around watching enemies attack you for a long time before reacting. They also die quickly and never seem to revive one another, leaving carrying the team entirely to you.
“The solo missions offer players the closest they’ll ever get to a campaign, and that is greatly appreciated.”
In addition to the core game mode are the single-player missions. These are incredibly tough story-focused levels that attempt to recap the movies and TV series for those who aren’t fully immersed in the Evil Dead mythos. They mostly exist to offer a fun reprieve for those who enjoyed the movies and want to relive certain moments. Outside of that, however, they are just too difficult – due to the lack of AI on your side – to feasibly enjoy outside of appreciating the fan service.
However, I don’t want to appear too negative about their inclusion. They are solo-focused missions, which is a nice touch in an almost exclusively multiplayer experience. Additionally, completing them unlocks additional outfits for your survivors which you can use in the main game mode. It’s a nice bonus that also mitigates the need for microtransactions. Unlike games such as Evolve or Friday The 13th, these missions offer players the closest they’ll ever get to a campaign, and that is greatly appreciated.
“For those who would rather play their games offline, Evil Dead: The Game is not a viable option for you.”
Unfortunately, a large caveat of this multiplayer game is that you cannot play it offline. While you don’t need PS+ in order to enjoy the solo content, you do need a steady internet connection to be able to access it. Should you try and play Evil Dead: The Game offline, you won’t be able to make it past the opening screen.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most infuriating aspect of this game. As someone who was without an internet connection for much of their childhood, this requirement is incredibly disheartening. I’ve written an entire list of games that feature offline modes. Evolve, a game rather similar to Evil Dead: The Game, has an offline mode. It simply makes no sense why this requires players to be online at all times.
So, while the majority of players purchasing this will have access to a stable internet connection, for those who do not and would rather play their games offline, Evil Dead: The Game is simply not a viable option for you.
“For £34.99, you can absolutely find a better game offering far more meaningful single-player content.”
While Evil Dead: The Game has solo content, it’s frankly not worth investing in. The core game mode may be fun initially, but it quickly wears thin. Its repetitive objectives, lack of any meaningful progression and indistinguishable survivors ensure that any longevity it may have had is wasted. Additionally, the poor AI make this already unenjoyable experience that much more frustrating. Their inability to add any sense of strategy makes the repetitive nature of the gameplay drag even further.
If you’re getting Evil Dead: The Game to play with friends and were wondering how the solo content stacks up, then you’ll likely have a good time. However, for those wishing to play the entire game solo, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. This is especially true for those hoping to play offline. For £34.99, you can absolutely find a better game offering far more meaningful single-player content.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PS5, code was provided by the Publisher.