Evil Dead offers an unholy mix of ultra-cute and ultra-gore

Ash Williams has been pretty big in the App Store lately. Last month saw the release of the hit-or-miss Army of Darkness: Defense (sadly, it was more miss than hit in our experience), and now gamers have Evil Dead, which is set in the same overall universe but is a remarkably different game. It’s not quite what it needs to be in order to be great, but it’s fun enough that it’ll satisfy fans.

The game loosely adapts the story of the movies. If you haven’t seen them, here’s the quick synopsis: Ash and a group of friends (read: future monster chow) decide to go to a vacation to a secluded cabin in some creepy woods. Soon after they arrive, a copy of the Necronomicon is discovered and read, which unleashes supernatural evil on the surroundings. As a result, Ash and his friends are menaced by Deadites, and it’s up to our intrepid hero to kill the monsters with his trusty axe and/or shotgun.

The game is a top-down shooter, with the standard dual thumbsticks (one for movement and one for attack) and jump button that are used in most of these games. It’s pretty standard, but what isn’t standard is that the controls don’t work all that smoothly, and aiming is always a bit wonky (this is particularly problematic when using the shotgun, which has limited ammunition). On top of that, hitting enemies with the axe means that Ash has to face them, which means precious seconds -and, thus, health points- can be wasted turning around while Deadites wail away at him.

For me, the most jarring thing about Evil Dead is it’s visual style. It looks pretty good, but it’s just extremely cartoony with bright colors and extra gore. As a result it takes a little while to get used to the design and the exaggerated details of Ash and his enemies (seriously, the character models almost look like bobblehead toys). The story is fleshed out between levels via some great painted images, too. That said, it’s just startlingly different from the (literally) dark, often claustrophobic, imagery of the movies.

The one problem with the game’s graphics is that there’s an element where blood and gore will stick to your phone’s screen. The gore will eventually obscure the view of what’s going on in the game, so players have to wipe them away. This starts out as a cute idea, but it gets old quick and never becomes fun again. Thankfully there’s a way to switch it off in the options.

The best way to describe Evil Dead is “almost, but not quite.” It’s cute and cheeky and so over-the-top that it’s got a lot of charm going for it. Unfortunately, the gameplay needs to be tweaked a bit before it’ll be really good. Still, it’s entertaining in a mindless sort of way, and as a fan of the series, you could do definitely do worse.