As I came off my hiatus from reviewing, THQ’s Evil Dead: Hail to the King awaited me. I’ve always been a sucker for B-grade horror flicks and Sam Raimi’s cult classic Evil Dead trilogy is among my favourites. Despite the criticisms the PlayStation version garnered upon release, I was eager to dive-in to the PC version and indulge myself in some slapstick slaughterhouse mayhem. A funny thing happened on the way to the banků
Developed by Heavy Iron Studios, Evil Dead: Hail to the King picks up eight years after the last instalment of the Evil Dead series. Against better judgment, our lovable but dirt dumb hero, Ash, returns to the infamous cabin in the woods along with his bride-to-be, Jenny, only to again face the evil forces that have crossed over to our world. You’d think by now this square-jawed, insult-spewing, chainsaw-toting fellow would learn his lesson, but not so. He’s haunted by nightmares of the events that took place, and what better way to conquer your past than to re-visit it, right? Check your brain at the door, folks, this is going to be a bumpy ride.
Evil Dead: Hail to the King is a clone in every sense of the word. It borrows from the survival horror formula made popular by Resident Evil, right down to the inventory and savegame systems. The game is viewed from a third-person perspective and is plagued by the poor camera angles often associated with the third-person genre. Gameplay is divided extremely unevenly between combat and object hunts. Equipped with his trusty chainsaw, Ash has to fight through a seemingly unending army of undead creatures. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t take a dozen or so hits to knock any of the baddies out of commission. The game features an assortment of recognizable and fully upgradeable weapons from the movie, including a shotgun and boomsticks, but none of them decreases the number of blows required to put an enemy out of its misery. To top it off, enemies re-spawn at an impeccable rate. Just when you think you’ve got a few moments to catch your breathe and enjoy the scenery *cough*, you’re back in the fray. Combat boils down to a repetitive hack ‘n slack display that is frustrating and unrewarding.
On the rare occasion that you aren’t embroiled in an onslaught of undead creatures, you’ll undoubtedly be busy pixel-hunting in search of hidden treasures or, more importantly, recovering pages of the Necronomicon (The Book of the Dead that started this whole mess) that have been scattered throughout the woods, in order to save your main squeeze. These tasks are made tedious simply because the objects aren’t animated very well. The game is limited to a resolution of 640x480, which doesn’t help the cause at all. Clearly a direct port, the visuals are poor in many respects. The developers have done a credible job animating Bruce Campbell as Ash in Evil Dead: Hail to the King, but the various undead creatures, particularly the skeletons, come across extremely poorly. The environments aren’t a great deal better. Locales are often too dark, lacking visual detail and, most importantly, the kind of creepy atmosphere you’d expect from a survival horror game. Genuine scary moments are few and far between in Evil Dead.
The audio department isn’t much better than the visual department. Bruce Campbell returns to provide the voice of Ash, yet the game lacks the traditional witty one-liners that made Campbell’s character so charismatic and enjoyable on the big screen. While some of the blame falls squarely on a poor script, Campbell himself doesn’t seem to say his lines with any conviction. Undead creatures shriek constantly to “Join us!” and the canned sound effects are poor to say the least. The only highlight of the audio department is a solid gothic soundtrack that accompanies Evil Dead: Hail to the King. The presentation is extremely disappointing overall.
Evil Dead: Hail to the King is terrifying for all the wrong reasons. The gameplay is repetitive while the combat is frustrating and unrewarding. The graphics are outdated and the sound is unimaginative. There are very few redeeming features in Evil Dead, which is a surprise considering the source from which it was produced. The Evil Dead film trilogy was by no means a thought-provoking experience, but it was fun and exciting none the less, traits that got lost somewhere in the conversion. For those reasons, I can’t recommend Evil Dead, not even to diehard fans of the movies. It may be early but Evil Dead: Hail to the King has likely secured a spot in our annual “Worst Games of the Year”. Now that’s scary.
[ 12/50 ] Gameplay
[ 04/10 ] Graphics
[ 04/10 ] Sounds
[ 04/10 ] Storyline
[ 04/10 ] Controls
[ 04/10 ] Replay Value