Really good video games based on horror film franchises are sadly far and few between. There’s never really been one that’s translated very well, though there are a few that have gotten pretty darned close (and are actually fun to play). Among those, Cranky Pants Games’ Evil Dead: Regeneration stands tall as one of the most entertaining horror film to video game adaptation to date. The game takes a few liberties with the Evil Dead canon, primarily creating an alternate reality scenario, but the core of the franchise (Bruce Campbell as Ash) is very much intact.
As I mentioned back in my Splatterhouse (2010) review, both games share a similar storyline – mad doctor goes nuts, kidnaps girl, and goes about unleashing Hell on earth. It’s a rather predictable storyline, but one that’s easy enough to follow that it doesn’t prevent the game from being fun. Speaking of which the team at Cranky Pants Games decided to give Ash a sort of sidekick this time out named Sam, a friendly poke at the film’s director Sam Raimi no doubt voiced by his brother Ted Raimi. You’ll have to switch between both characters throughout the game, which is sort of a drag, but the dialogue between the duo is pretty spot on Saimi-esque splatstick.
Since there’s not much to comment on regarding the game’s presentation– the graphics are Xbox generation one quality and the level design is pretty much the same dark scenery with slight variations to the environment. Gameplay-wise Evil Dead: Regeneration is very much of the hack-n-slash variety, offering just enough power-ups to keep things from becoming too monotonous but never to the point that you’ll find yourself in an 8-hour gaming marathon. In fact, I’ve never made it quite to the end of the game myself, though I’ve gotten pretty far into it.
The controls are a bit sluggish, but much improved over previous games in the franchise and having the ability to possess other Deadites in addition to “hulking out” as Deadite Ash when your Rage Meter is full offers some strategy as to how you choose to play.
It’s great to see Bruce reprise his role as Ash and having Ted on board for Sam was a bit of brilliant thinking as well and while Evil Dead: Regeneration stands as the films’ strongest video game tie-in (take that Evil Dead app!) it still doesn’t stand the test of time very well. This is one franchise that is begging for a slick new story and a video game could be just the medium to tell it in. Of course, it’s Bruce Campbell as Ash all the way or no deal.