Evil Dead for iOS Looks Good, but Struggles to Match Franchise’s History

It has been three decades since the release of the Evil Dead cult classic film, and a group by the name of Trigger Apps, along with Ghost House, have released a relatively new iOS game also titled Evil Dead. The new game, a dual-stick shooter with moderate elements of platforming, follows the movie’s hokey B-movie atmosphere. While the art is quality, the game-play has issues and the overall experience is boring.

Considering past successes with the Evil Dead franchise, such as Army of Darkness Defense, fans of the films are likely going to be disappointed.

Players follow the exploits of Ash Williams as he and his friends are attacked by ever growing numbers of “deadites” (essentially zombies) within a gloomy forest. Controlled using a now “standard” dual-stick shooter control layout, players move Ash with one virtual analog stick and shoot and aim with the other. Almost immediately, however, the first questionable choice of design comes into play as both virtual control sticks sit in the center (vertically) of the screen’s left and right borders. Typically speaking, these controls are placed in bottom corners.

Most dual-stick shooters tend to offer infinite ammunition for the primary projectile weapon as these games (and Evil Dead is no exception) are usually top down, or top-down isometric in perspective.

In this title, however, players only ever get low ammunition counts (e.g. 100 shots), with minimal ammunition pick-ups. Additionally, the weapon of choice for Ash is a shotgun… which handles like a machine gun, and it depletes its ammo stores rather quickly. When ammunition runs out, then players switch to a simple axe and are limited to swiping clumsily at enemies with single strikes.

As for the enemies themselves, they’re not very challenging, even with the axe (as a side note, players do eventually get the chainsaw). Attacks consist of walking up to the player and striking them when in range. The only one that feels different is an “evil tree” that wraps vines around the user, stunning them, but that’s about it. There’s no sense of danger in any way, and even when level mechanics change (e.g. “Survive for X amount of time.”) the core point-and-shoot element is still ever-present and not terribly exciting. There are even random plants that just get in the way and do damage when touched because they are “itchy.” There’s no logical design choice for having them.

Further “challenge” is added in the form of moderate platforming, that consists of jumping stones in a river or lake.

Even the levels themselves come off as basic. Most of the time, they consist of getting from Point A to Point B  and their design is so linear that they’re just boring. At most, players might be able to go left or right to get to the end of a level. This, in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, but since the combat is all point-and-shoot, the issue is just amplified. Moreover, most levels take about 30 to 60 seconds to finish, so players go through the 30 levels quickly, leaving virtually no sense of accomplishment.

The game competes in a tough league, with the visual style being the most notable positive aspect. The Evil Dead world has a cheesy, blocky look, with each character displayed as a funny bobble-head avatar.

In the end, Evil Dead is a disappointment compared to past iterations of the franchise on iOS. Overly basic, the game is dull and becomes more so even after the first minute of game play. So for fans of the movie series, the current version of this iOS title, for either iPhone and iPad, comes in as a pass.