Full disclosure: I’m not reviewing “Evil Dead: The Game” because I’m part – a very small part, of course – of the team that made this game a reality.
I’m pretty proud of the end result, and my openly biased opinion is that anyone over 17 should buy five copies and spin them around so their records don’t wear out.
Seriously, I thought it would be fun to briefly talk about my involvement in game making, having spent 30 years covering games as a writer and reviewer.
Five years ago, Boss Team Games (the company tasked with putting together the many moving parts of the franchise for a game) approached me to work on “Evil Dead: The Game.” A lifelong horror fan, this was the perfect project to cut my teeth.
Now, I’m not a programmer. Nor am I an artist or designer or any number of other crucial people needed to bring a video game to life.
But I know games, I know “Evil Dead” and I have a knack for project management. Most of my duties were not prestigious, and I would not like to bore you, good readers, by discussing them in detail here. However, I like to think that I helped push the game forward towards release.
Working on this project was never boring. It’s because I could see it go from an idea to a reality.
“Evil Dead,” for those unfamiliar, is a series of horror movies (and TV series) dating back to 1981 and spanning more than four decades. Its popularity remains among horror fans, and there’s even a new movie, “Evil Dead Rise,” currently in production.
The franchises shining star, Bruce Campbell, remains a major reason for its success.
I had the pleasure of meeting Campbell at a photo and video shoot done for the game in 2019, and saw the lengths he went to filming promotional material (beyond his performance in the Game). Obviously, he not only cares about his character and the franchise, but about all the fans.
I’ve also witnessed almost every iteration of the game – from the first playable version in early 2020 to the final result released on May 13.
I gained a new appreciation for games by watching the process first hand. Evolving artwork, smoothing animations, tightening gameplay, and refining objectives all gave a glimpse of just how much work goes into making a modern game.
Yes, I witnessed some hilarious bugs as the game progressed from pre-alpha to alpha, beta, and final. And I have to give my opinion and make sure that this contribution is taken seriously. This way I was able to help form the final game.
Then last fall, when things were in the polishing and perfecting stage, I started editing the game’s official artbook. This gave me the opportunity to browse thousands of works of art, from early concept drawings to individually rendered characters, weapons, vehicles and environments.
I got a preview of the first expansion map, the recently announced Kandar Castle from the third movie, “Army of Darkness”, which will be released later this year. Yes, players can go medieval on monsters…literally.
My team was also able to interview the actors from the films who lent their voices to the game. The entire cast of the original “Evil Dead”, the actors who played Kelly and Pablo in the television series “Ash vs. Evil Dead “, and Bruce Campbell himself.
We also sent a writer and photographer to Madrid to interview the talented Saber Interactive designers and programmers responsible for bringing the game to fruition.
Learning what the game and, in fact, what “Evil Dead” meant to all these different people inspired me beyond comprehension.
All of this culminated in my first book, a big bound volume that I can call my own.
Ultimately, “Evil Dead: The Game” was released to mostly positive reviews and good player response. And I got to be part of a creative process like no other.
So I don’t critique games the same way anymore, because I see the work behind them so much better now. I can see where a designer is when an idea fails, and I know how much work it takes to make it a success.
I think that made me a better critic. And I can’t wait to help create another game.