Game Review: Endzone: A World Apart – Survivor Edition

I haven’t played a good RTS for a long while. It is a genre of game that doesn’t get a lot of love these days, especially on consoles. I grew up playing RTS games. The likes of Dune II: Battle for Arrakis, Mega-Lo-Mania and the original Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, were games that swallowed my free time as a teenager. Endzone: A World Apart – Survivor Edition is an RTS game on consoles, developed by Gentlymad Studios and published by Assemble Entertainment.

“In 2021, a group of terrorists blew up nuclear power plants around the world and plunged the world into chaos. Only few were able to escape into underground facilities called “Endzones”. 150 years later, mankind returns to the surface – under your command! In an extremely hostile environment full of radioactivity, contaminated rain, extreme climate change, and people dreaming of a better life, you’ll have to prove your worth as a leader. Dedicate yourself to great ideas and guide your people into a period of prosperity and new inventions.”

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So then, as the blurb up there tells you. You are leading your people and fighting for survival following nuclear fallout. Though I mentioned a few RTS games in the intro up there, they were mainly ‘construct buildings and attack your opponents’ type titles. However, Endzone: A World Apart plays more like a SimCity  crossed with The Settlers RTS game over a build an army and destroy your enemies one. Though there are a few fights in this, they are not the focus. Here, your main goal is simply to survive and keep your little peeps happy. The main gameplay with Endzone: A World Apart centres around town management and maintenance.

Begin with a bare basic settlement and a few civilians and start out by gathering the essentials. Water is always a good thing to have and certainly a much-needed commodity. So, build a jetty on a body of water so your people can gather water. Then you’ll need a cistern to store your water for use. Still, before all of that, you’ll need builders and water carriers. See, that is just one resource, something as simple as water and you already have several elements that you need to manage to obtain and maintain it. Times that by the many other resources in the game, 90-odd buildings, the numerous jobs your little people will have to do and you have a pretty involving game here.

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Endzone: A World Apart is not a simple game at all. Let me put it this way, this comes with a tutorial that will take you a good few hours to reach the end of, in itself. Your town can grow from that bare basic settlement, to a bustling mini-metropolis over time. Time that you will be spending by managing and micro-managing every single aspect of your town as your lead your people to survive everything that a post-nuclear fallout brings.

Check the land for radiation and moisture to see if it will make good farmland to grow crops, decide which crops to grow, research new buildings and tech, rediscover electricity and more. Your people will soon start to have children that will need education, so you’ll need to keep on top of that and build a school. Your population will grow and so, you’ll need more buildings and better resources to keep everybody happy. Endzone: A World Apart just keeps throwing layer upon layer at you, unpacking more for you to do and manage as you play. As I say, this is more like SimCity or The Settlers than a Command & Conquer RTS, so you really do need your best management head on.

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Now, Endzone: A World Apart was released last year on PC. This updated console version, Endzone: A World Apart – Survivor Edition is the base game, all of the DLC and a few other tweaks to help with smoother play via a controller on consoles. Outside of the standard survival mode, you also get several scenarios to play around with, each with their own stories to follow. The game also comes with some impressive difficulty setting options where you can tailor pretty much every aspect of the game to find a setting that will suit your gameplay style.

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Coming with a hefty £45 price tag, but that price does include a piece of DLC and this is a huge game that will eat up many an hour. Still, there are actually two DLCs available and you really would think this version would have all of the DLC, especially at this price. Endzone: A World Apart – Survivor Edition is not a game that everybody will enjoy. It is slow, methodical and you do have to take a lot in. The tutorial is very in-depth but it’s also pretty imperative to play through… which can take a good while. This is a very deep and involving city-building RTS and these things just plod along at a slow and steady pace. So if you are looking for something with a bit more ‘action’ then you’re just not going to find it here. However, if you do have a soft spot for an in-depth RTS game (on console), then you’ll be hard pushed to find one much better than Endzone: A World Apart. A recommendation from me if you don’t mind that £45 dent to your wallet.

Game Review: This War of Mine: Final Cut

This War of Mine is a few years old now, originally released back in 2014 in fact. However, it has recently been given a bit of a sprucing up for current-gen consoles. This War of Mine: Final Cut from developer and publisher, 11 bit studios, not only gets a graphical upgrade but it also throws in all the previous DLCs, to make the most complete version of the game.

“This War of Mine: Final Cut is the conclusive, remastered edition of the game that contains all the updates and free expansions released so far and introduces not only a new scenario but also expands all scenarios with the locations known from Stories DLCs – even if you don’t own those. In short words – that means you can now experience lots of never-seen-before playthroughs and struggle with new challenges.”

Now, I have known about This War of Mine for some time, I’ve just never gotten around to playing it. So this popping up on my radar piqued my interest. The most complete and best way to experience the game, so I jumped at the chance to review it.

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So, what exactly is This War of Mine then? I guess it could be described as a base-building, survival game where you have to try to live through an ongoing conflict. This is a (sadly) very topical and very anti-war game and 11 bit studios are not shy about telling you that either. The studio has been a massive supporter of Ukraine over the current war that is going on over there. To the point where they gave 100% of the profits from this game to the Ukrainian Red Cross, raising around $850,000 along the way.

Taking place in the fictional city of Pogoren, you control three characters, each with their own set of skills. There is no real story other than that there is an ongoing war in Pogoren and you have to try and survive it. Though the characters you play as do have backstories that will be slowly revealed as you play. Things that you do (or don’t do) and how you respond (or don’t respond) to situations will shape the character’s morals and the game is really open, depending on just how you play. This War of Mine: Final Cut is dark, moody and very atmospheric. You are playing in a very war-torn environment full of tragedy and 11 bit studios keep telling you that through the whole game.

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The game is split into day and night cycles. During the day, you’ll need to build your base… or partially demolished house. Build beds for better sleep, an oven so you can cook food, a workstation so you can build tools and weapons and so on. If you have ever played a survival-type game before, then you know what you are getting into here. At night though, that is when you go out scavenging. Find other buildings and search them for loot and resources to help you build your base. Scavenging is a necessity but it can also be pretty dangerous as there will be others out there trying to do what you are doing or even just wanting to stop you.

You’ll cross paths with hostile civilians and even the militia. You’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons and decide if it’s even worth going out at night or if you should stay home and rest up or even guard your base. There are plenty of moral decisions to make too. I mean, you could go and raid an elderly couple’s home, an easy target for food to feed your starving survivors. Is it the right thing to do? Of course not but neither is letting your people starve to death either. There really are a lot of variables here with This War of Mine and every game you play will be different as everything is randomly generated. Your base, the map, NPCs and more. Strategy and planning are key, making decisions that you may not always agree with are also going to be something that you’ll have to wrestle with.

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Just how you try to survive really is very open. Short-term solutions are always the easiest route to go. Say eating scraps of food to stay alive. But to really keep hunger at bay, you may need to cook proper meals. This one thing alone adds a lot more to the game as you’ll need to build an oven first and then you need ingredients to make the food itself. Ingredients that you could go out and scavenge… or you could even have a go at growing your own. You’ll then need to build a food supply infrastructure to keep things ticking over, which is not exactly easy when resources are sparse.

It is this dynamic nature of the game that really does keep you playing. How you try to survive is massively open and you can explore the game’s world and its mechanics with a massive amount of freedom. For a game set in and based around a war, there is very little combat. You can make rudimentary weapons, such as knives, to help defend yourself against attack while you are out scavenging. But killing  people is not a fun thing to do. This is not Call of Duty where you run around AK-47ing dozens and dozens of people. Killing in This War of Mine really should be avoided and only used as a very last resort. You are playing as a civilian and taking someone’s life can and will affect your character’s mental state.

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What is great about This War of Mine: Final Cut is that it comes crammed with everything the game has to offer. The Stories DLCs kind of play the same as the base game… but also not. See, with the base game, there is no story and you just have to try to survive an ongoing war. With the DLCs, you are given very structured and linear stories to play through. Even though the basics of the gameplay remain the same, the dynamics between the two are massively different. This is a very multi-layered game and one that definitely takes a while to fully understand and appreciate.

Graphically, This War of Mine: Final Cut really is very striking. The lack of colour and almost fully black & white art really helps to hit home the bleakness of the situation that you are in. The simple, basic and pencil-drawn, but really quite stunning, art style used here keeps things from getting too confusing or too muddled on the screen. Everything is clear, you can see what you can interact with and the updated 4K visuals really pack a punch at times.

Playing This War of Mine: Final Cut right now, what with all of what is going on over in Ukraine right now, really does add a lot of gravitas to the whole thing. Here I am, sitting in the comfort of my home playing a fictional game about surviving a war on a game console and a big TV. While in Ukraine, people are trying to live through a very real war right now. It really does hit home and put things into perspective.

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£17 is what This War of Mine: Final Cut is going to cost you. I’m not even going to do my usual weighing up the cost against the gameplay here. Just buy this now. If you played This War of Mine when it first came out, there is enough new stuff here to entice you back. If (like me) you had not played the game before, then This War of Mine: Final Cut is the very best way to experience this one… and ‘experience’ is the right word to use too. This really is just that, an experience and a truly amazing one too.

So far this year, I have reviewed a few games that have hit me in an emotional way. From being a homeless person living on the streets to reflecting on my own life through that of an old dead man. This game has hit me in a very similar way. This War of Mine is a very heavy, downbeat and bleak title. What with all that is going on in Ukraine, that just adds a whole other level of gravitas that really kicks you in the nuts as you play. Oh yeah, before I forget… fuck the war! Buy this game.

Game Review: Source of Madness

One of my favourite sub-genres is the Rogue-lite one. The indie game scene is full of them, some great… some not so great. Developer Carry Castle and publisher Thunderful Games have a new Rogue-lite out now. A very dark and Lovecraftian stylised title called Source of Madness. But it is one of the great ones or one of the not so great ones?

“Source of Madness is a side-scrolling dark action roguelite set in the Loam Lands, a twisted Lovecraftian inspired world powered by procedural generation and AI machine learning. Take on the role of a new Acolyte as they embark on a nightmarish odyssey. Uncover the cosmic secrets of the Loam Lands and The Tower of Madness, the moon’s mysterious Citadel.”

So first, I just want to cover what that ‘AI machine learning’ is, that is mentioned in the blurb up there. Well, a major staple of the Rogue-lite genre is randomly generated levels. Each run that you do, you get thrown into a new area as it has been procedurally generated. Level layouts change, item/weapon locations and drops change and so on, However, one factor that never changes is the enemies. Oh yeah, they may change locations but you do always face the same enemies every run. With Source of Madness, that’s not how it works.

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See, as with any good Rogue-lite, yeah the level layouts change, the item/weapon locations and drops change and all of that but here, the enemies themselves are randomly generated. How they look, how they attack and so on, everything about the enemies is created via AI machine learning. Having a very Lovecraftian influence means that you’ll come face to face with some pretty disturbingly horrific creations too. Multiple eyes, flailing tentacles and so on. As for the rest of the game?

What you get with Source of Madness is a very typical Rogue-lite action-platformer. I don’t think I really need to go too in-depth with the gameplay here because well, we have seen it all before. You know the score by now, spawn, kill enemies, earn in-game currency (in this case, blood) to buy upgrades, die, respawn, rinse and repeat. What Source of Madness does add to the mix (outside of the Lovecraftian, grotesque, AI-generated enemies) is a rather deep RPG/inventory system. There are loads of weapons and items to pick up and use here and the UI can get very busy with all of the information. You various different damages, resistances, cooldowns and so on. Your main attacks come from equipable rings that you will find as you play, that allow you to cast magic attacks. The rings have various and numerous RPG-like stats and elemental attacks. You can equip two rings at a time to mix up your attacks and spells. Try out different combinations until you find a set-up that suits your playstyle. There really is a lot here to take in.

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In terms of looks, Source of Madness really is quite striking. That H.P. Lovecraft influence is pretty strong here. The graphics are dark and moody and it kind of looks like you are in a 2D world made from paper cut-outs, but with several layers of depth. It’s pretty tricky to describe in words to really get across just how the game looks and feels. In terms of visuals alone, Source of Madness is one of my favourites this year. However, there are times when things can get a little ‘messy’ and it becomes difficult to see what is actually going on. When you are in the midst of a fight against an enemy, sometimes they blend into the background and you can’t be sure if you are actually hitting them or not.

£16 – £17 (depending on format) is what Source of Madness is going to set you back. Available now on everything and there is a lot to like here… there are also quite a few things not to like too. This is a perfectly fine game but this really is part of the issue, it is just fine. The Rogue-lite sub-genre is rather populous within the indie game scene and there seems to be a new one released every other week at the moment. The upside to this is that there is a lot to choose from, the downside is that titles really need to do something impressive to stand out. This is where the main issue with Source of Madness lies, it really doesn’t do anything to stand out in the crowd.

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This is a playable game, no doubt about it. But it feels very ‘seen it all before’ too. I love the art style, the Lovecraftian influence is wonderful and the 2-D paper cut-out design is really striking. Other than that, Source of Madness is a very ‘by the numbers’ Rogue-lite. I’m not entirely won over by the AI learning generated enemies either. I mean, even though these things are randomly created, they all begin to look the same after a while. It’s a great idea but perhaps it needed a bit more thought applied to it first?

Do I recommend this one? If you are a massive Rogue-lite fan and want something all too familiar, then yes. Source of Madness is very payable if you like this genre. It may not do anything new or interesting in terms of gameplay, this is no Dead Cells. There are a few rough edges here and there too. But overall, I think this one is worth taking a look at, even if it fails to stand out from the dozens of other similar games on the market. I’m just feeling a bit of Rogue-lite fatigue at the moment and need to take a break from these games for a while.

Game Review: Evil Dead: The Game

I am a huge, massive Evil Dead fan. I even did an Evil Dead game retrospective last year. I ended that article mentioning this game and saying how I’ve actually had a review code request in for quite some time. Well, I got a review code and this is that review. From developer Saber Interactive and publisher Boss Team Games comes Evil Dead: The Game… a game based on Evil Dead.

“Step into the shoes of Ash Williams or his friends from the iconic Evil Dead franchise and work together in a game loaded with over-the-top co-op and PVP multiplayer action! Play as a team of four survivors, exploring, looting, managing your fear, and finding key items to seal the breach between worlds in a game inspired by all three original Evil Dead films as well as the STARZ original Ash vs Evil Dead television series.”

So yeah, this is a game that I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. However, Evil Dead: The Game is of a genre that I don’t have a particular fondness for. This is one of those asymmetrical multiplayer titles. Think something along the lines of Dead by Daylight or Friday the 13th: The Game. You know the kind of thing, you team up with some friends (or strangers) and go up against another player on the opposing side to do battle, in what is basically a good vs evil fight to win.

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With Evil Dead: The Game the two playable sides are the Kandarian demon and of course, the survivors and the game uses characters and assets from all three of the Evil Dead films, as well as the Ash vs Evil Dead TV show.

So then, this is how the basics of the game work. Playing as the survivors, you have to first find three pieces of a map. Once completed, that map will reveal the location of pages from the Necronomicon and the Kandarian dagger, from the films. Here, as the survivors, you have to collect those pages and dagger in a ‘King of the HIll’ type mechanic. You have to stay within range of the pages/dagger while Deadites continually attack you for a set amount of time. Then, once you have both the pages and the dagger secured, you can take on the Dark Ones who are guarding the Necronomicon. Once they are dealt with, you then have to destroy the Necronomicon itself to win the game. All while Deadites attack.

Playing as the survivors, you have a fairly decent sized map to explore. Buildings to search for loot, outside areas to discover, driveable cars and more. Weapons and items are out there to find but getting to them can be hindered by the many Deadites that you will face. There is also a fear mechanic. Here, the longer you stay in the dark and are attacked, the more your fear will increase. When your fear is too high, you become an easier target for the Kandarian demon and Deadites. Staying in well-lit areas will cause that fear bar to drop, you can even light fires in certain spots… as long as you have some matches. There’s a healing item called Shemp Cola (reference) to top up your health. With the numerous weapons, you have your basic common to legendary type grading. So getting the best weapons really does require some searching and luck. All of this is done against the clock and you have to destroy the Necronomicon before dawn, which is a 30-minute per-round playtime.

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Then, if you play as the Kandarian demon, the basic idea is to stop the survivors from completing their mission. Here, you control ‘the force’ that you see (well, don’t see) in the films and yes, you can fly around the place just like in the movies. It’s really satisfying too. Anyway, as the demon, you can summon and possess Deadites using Infernal Orbs, which can be collected on the map to top up your meter. Every time you summon and/or possess a Deadite, you use up some of that Infernal Orbs meter, so you’ll need to keep topping it up. You also have a few other demonic tricks up your sleeve. You can lay traps, such as hide Ash’s possessed hand from Evil Dead II or the mini-Ashes from Army of Darkness in loot boxes. See, these loot boxes are all over the map and the survivors can open them to find new weapons and items. But if they open one that has been trapped, they will end up being attacked instead of getting some loot. As the demon, you can also possess the tress in the game (just like in the first film… but no tree rape here) and take over the cars that the survivors can use to get around. Plus, if the fear level of a survivor is high enough, you can possess them too.

Both sides, survivors and demons, have their various strengths and weakness. Both have multiple characters to play as, with different roles to perform. With the survivors, you have leader, warrior, hunter and support classes and each class has its own unique special ability. Win games, earn XP, level up and unlock new skills via a skill tree, costumes and so on. Evil Dead: The Game really is a bog-standard asymmetrical multiplayer game. It does offer a little variety with how you go about winning the game but really, it doesn’t do anything that has not already been done before… many times over too. See, this is my issue with this sub-genre of games. There really is very little here in terms of interesting gameplay mechanics. That is not necessarily a bad thing, if you are a fan of these types of games, then you’ll feel right at home here with Evil Dead: The Game.

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So yeah, this is a very typical PvP/co-op multiplayer experience. However, Evil Dead: The Game does feature some single-player content too. Just in case you don’t feel like putting up with idiotic 14-year-olds continually calling your mom ‘fat’, while ignoring the objective of the game and screaming down the mic. You can play the standard multiplayer mode but solo and using AI for the other characters. This is actually a great way to play to get used to everything before you do decide to go online. However, you can’t earn XP here. So you can’t level up and unlock new skills and so on. But the best piece of single-player content comes in the form of missions. There are six missions here (technically five with the sixth coming soon), only is one unlocked at the start though. What you do in these missions is recreate moments from the films and TV show but with a few added twists.

For instance, the first mission has you playing as Evil Dead II’s Ash and having to deal with his girlfriend, Linda. The action picks up post her being possessed and Ash cutting off her head and burying her, as in the film. You have to leave the cabin and find Linda’s necklace, while being attacked by Deadites, of course. Much like the multiplayer aspect, you can search the map for loot, weapons and items. Unlike the multiplayer aspect, there is no time limit, so you can go as slow or fast as you like. Anyway, once you find Linda’s necklace, you then have to find a shovel so you can dig up her buried head. You then take the head to the workshed and deal with it once and for all, just like in Evil Dead II. See, these single-player missions kind of follow events of the films and TV show but they also add several other issues with you to deal with along the way to mix things up and add to the gameplay.

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Play through these missions, unlock more missions, characters and other bonuses. Apparently, there will be even more single-player missions added later via DLC too. I actually had a lot of fun with this part of the game. It’s not exactly a full-on single-player Evil Dead gaming experience. But it is a great little mode to play if you get a bit bored (or annoyed) with the multiplayer part though.

If there is one thing that Evil Dead: The Game does really damn well, that thing is the use of the licence. As an Evil Dead fan, I was giddy with excitement over just how much Saber Interactive has crammed into the game for fans like me. Things like being able to play as any version of Ash from the very first film, right up to the TV show. Then you have numerous supporting characters too. You can play as Ash’s sister, Cheryl. Perhaps you’ll favour Annie Knowbury, Lord Arthur, Kelly Maxwell or even the ‘powerful vagina’ that is Pablo, just to name a few. The demons and Deadites even have their own playable character list. Of course, you’ve got to have Evil Ash but you also have Henrietta, the skeletons from Army of Darkness, those Eligos demons from Ash Vs Evil Dead and plenty more. Oh and all of the characters are fully voiced by the original actors too. So yeah, there are plenty of trademark Bruce Campbell one-liners for you to enjoy.

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Outside of the characters, Evil Dead: The Game gives you some recognisable locations. There is only one map in the game (another map, Castle Kandar, will be added via DLC for free later) and that map is the woods, inspired by the first film. It is a fairly decent sized map with several locations to explore. Yeah, you’ve got rundown cabins but you can also find places inspired by the films and TV show along the way. There are so many nods and references to the entire Evil Dead franchise (sans the 2013 remake) that even the biggest fan, like me, can’t help but smile. What could’ve been a lazy and cheap cash-in is actually a wonderful love letter to fans of the franchise. Saber Interactive really have done an amazing job of making everything look and feel very, very Evil Dead. I raise my chainsaw to them in respect.

Speaking of which, in terms of graphics, Evil Dead: The Game is really quite stunning to look at. I’ve been playing on the Xbox Series X and it does look glorious. The detailed character models look great. Each of the different Ash characters from the franchise really does look like they have fallen right out of the films, from young Ash in The Evil Dead to older and ‘wiser’ Ash from the Ash Vs Evil Dead TV show. The environments are equally as gorgeous too and the woods do look very ‘Sam Raimi’, as the moonlight cuts through the tress. The map comes with a variety of weather, it can rain, snow or it can just be a nice and Deadite filled evening as the sun rises on the horizon.

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So then, time to pass judgement on Evil Dead: The Game and ponder if it is worth the asking price. Coming in two flavours, a standard version priced at around £34 or a deluxe edition at £50. The deluxe edition gets you two extra Ash character skins and Season Pass 1 (how many season passes they will be, I don’t know) that will give you four future DLCs. As I have already confessed to not being a fan of this genre of game, £50 for the deluxe edition sounds rather high to me. Bearing in mind that you do only get one map here… even with the deluxe edition. The two skins are hardly worth it and the future DLC hasn’t been announced yet either. It could be crap for all we know. In terms of the deluxe edition, I say avoid it, even as a big Evil Dead fan. Or just wait for it to drop in price in a few months.

As for the base game with its £34 price tag. That does seem more ‘reasonable’ and if you do enjoy these asymmetrical multiplayer titles (I don’t), then I think you should go for this version. As long as the devs do keep their word with the adding of the Castle Kandar map for free. Which does bring me to another point…

I do think that, even though the only map here is a decent enough size… it is still only one map and you could get a bit tired of it pretty damn fast. What do the devs have planned for the future and if the Castle Kandar map is going to be free, as suggested, does that mean other maps won’t? See, just the one map, with the possibility of having to buy more, is off-putting for the price you are paying for the game. Having titles offer more maps via DLC is okay and all, but not when you’re charging £34 for the base game with only one map, to begin with. So yeah, I’m a bit wary of what is going to happen with the game moving forwards.

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If the business model for this game is paid for maps, then I think that the base game should be free, or at least a lot cheaper than it is. Or the base game should contain multiple maps and game modes from the start, not the one you do get and the possibility of another sometime in the future. It’s all a bit cloudy right now as to what the plan is for this game. So perhaps, you may want to wait to pull the trigger on your boomstick for this one until that plan is a bit clearer (and the price drops). Because, when you think about it, you’re being expected to pay £34 (standard edition) for a multiplayer title with one map and only one game mode (demon vs survivors) right now. It doesn’t matter how you slice it, for a multiplayer-centric game like this, that’s not a lot of content, is it?

The single-player missions really are great fun though, but they are short-lived and are more of a nice bonus over dedicated single-player content. They also feel massively unbalanced right now, as if the devs just used the same difficulty setting as if you were playing the four-player co-op mode… but in single-player. I mean, this is a multiplayer game first and foremost, with a bit of single-player content tacked on. So I didn’t think I could recommend this if you only want a single-player Evil Dead experience.

Still, Evil Dead: The Game is a decent entry to the PvP/co-op multiplayer genre, it is fully cross-platform play too, so you should find a game with ease and can play with anyone regardless of system. The Evil Dead licence is the icing on the cake that has been handled very well indeed. I’d even say that this is, by far, the best use of the IP in a game. The issue is that, just because you are an Evil Dead fan, that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the game. But fans of the asymmetrical multiplayer genre will definitely get a kick out of this, Evil Dead fans or not. If you’re a fan of both, then you’re in for a good time. But I really don’t think the game is worth the asking price right now. I guess you’ll have to ask yourself if the coin is really worth the single map and the one game mode that you do get?

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I personally can’t recommend that you buy this one… at least not yet. And it pains me to say this too because, there is nothing wrong with the game on a base level. It plays perfectly fine and all, the Evil Dead IP is utilised brilliantly and this has clearly really been a real passion project from Saber Interactive. But I don’t think we gamers should be buying incomplete games, with the possibility that it’ll get better or have more content later. Because, what if that future content isn’t good, what if it never comes? Remember Friday the 13th The Game? That had a load of content planned that never came because of a legal wrangling. I have to review this game on what it is now and not what it could possibly be in the future. In a year’s time Evil Dead: The Game could be one of the best multiplayer titles around. Right now though? It’s pretty far from that.

What you get here with Evil Dead: The Game is a really, really, really promising demo of what could be if it had more maps and game modes to play, which it really should’ve had at launch. So my advice, just wait a while. But by then though, would the player-base have dropped off as they got bored playing the same one map and same one game mode over and over? I’ve been playing over the weekend and I’m bored already.

I played the Beta of this a few weeks back and I got sent the deluxe edition for this review. It still feels like I’m playing the Beta though. I spent several minutes looking around on the main menu for where the rest of the game was, trying to work how why the version I was sent was deluxe, but there was nothing. The game even had multiple server issues when trying to connect to a game or even when in a game. Evil Dead: The Game just does not feel like it has been finished yet (despite the delays), as if we are being used as testers. This certainly is not a £34 (or £50 for the deluxe edition) game, not even close. It is, as I said, a really promising demo for what could be.

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Just to finish, review code for this was not sent out until release day. This is usually a bit of a tactic that publishers use to keep collateral damage down to a minimum, to avoid negative reviews. As people would’ve already purchased the game before the reviews hit the Internet. Just before I pressed publish on this, I thought I’d look around for other reviews. I couldn’t find any of note except for a couple of ‘reviews in progress’ things. Plus, this game was released on Friday and a lot of reviewers don’t work weekends. I’ll let you make of that what you will.

Anyway, now that I have reviewed this game, I have now covered every (official) Evil Dead game ever!

(Guest) Game Review: The House of the Dead: Remake

Dave Corn is back to review a game that he loved back in the day, but given a bit of modern-day polish. From publisher Forever Entertainment S.A. and developer MegaPixel Studio S.A. comes The House of the Dead: Remake. But how does a game from 1996 fare in 2022? It is a dream come true for Dave, or an absolute nightmare?

“THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD: Remake is a remade version of the game introduced in 1997 in arcade platform. A classic arcade rail-shooter receives a whole new entourage and gameplay changes to suit modern gaming standards.”

As soon as I saw that this had been announced, I was excited. The kid in me lit up, they were remaking the original The House of the Dead. Instantly, I imagined that blue Sega Saturn Light gun in my hand and me blasting through zombies and flying monsters and infected slugs as leeches jumped at me… and that’s just the first level too.

THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD REMAKE SSCREEN 1

The House Of The Dead (HOTD) Was unleashed into the arcades by Sega in 1996, it was then later ported to the Sega Saturn (my favourite console of all time, by the way) in 1998. Being able to play those arcade-perfect ports of all of those iconic on-rails-shooter light gun games, thanks to Sega’s Saturn console, with titles such as HOTD and Virtua Cop 1 & 2. Or on Sony’s PlayStation brand and the brilliant Time Crisis or Point Blank franchises. The technology used for those light guns titles in the arcades, as well as at home, with the use of old CRT TV (before flat screens for you young kids) didn’t really vary massively… but they were still great fun to play.

When flat screens came into the homes the old console light guns no longer worked. So you were reduced to having to play the game with a controller which, for me and my friends at least, took all the fun out of it. As time went on, solutions were found. Nintendo’s Wii console used its sensor bar/motion control, as an example. This breathed new life into the light gun game genre. Using the Wiimote as a light gun worked well. HOTD 2 & 3 were released on the Wii and they were great. In fact, they were leaps and bounds better than this remake.

THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD REMAKE SSCREEN 3

Now for this The House of the Dead: Remake. First released on the Switch on the 7th of April and then the Xbox and PlayStation versions came just a few weeks later. See, I get that, using motion controllers as light guns. It works. The PS has a camera and a huge VR gun. However, I’m not writing my review on either of the Switch or PS versions, I’m playing it on Xbox One…. with no motion control options.

Is it just me that, when I see the Forever Entertainment developer logo pop up on a game, I feel like a kid who has just put his hand into a massive pick and mix? There’s about a 50/50 chance you’ll grab something that is really good, but there’s also a good chance you’ll get something not as good. They have already remastered one of my other favourite childhood games Panzer Dragoon a couple of years back, which was a good game. But their own titles are very hit and miss, varying in quality and no AAA titles. This HOTD Remake has definitely gained them some more notoriety.

THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD REMAKE SSCREEN 2

If you haven’t realised by now, I really do know this game inside and out. I have played it a lot over the years and this remaster is very true to the original game. It’s almost like they just repainted over the original and then increased the resolution. Enemies pop out from exactly the same places and the bosses move in identical patterns as before. I could play this game blindfolded and do well… so why am I having so much trouble with this Xbox version? The controls. HOTD Remake does try to offer a lot in the way of tweaking the controller settings. You can adjust the speed of the cursor, sensitivity of movement and even the colour and shape of your gun’s aiming reticle. Even so, I often find myself losing track of it alltogether when the action gets intense.

No matter how much I tried to enjoy this game on Xbox, I just couldn’t. The game has had some new modes including a horde mode, which has 15 times more enemies on screen. But when you can’t play it with the regular amount of bad guys on screen, adding 15 times more does seem a bit silly. As far as I could see, it was still the same game I loved as a child, if I had a light gun in my hand I could complete this game on my first attempt, no problem but with the Xbox controller?  No chance. HOTD (any version) should not be played with a controller.

THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD REMAKE SSCREEN 4

Overall, this remake does feel very rushed. The in-game graphics look fine and it is possible that they have literally just painted, scene for scene, over the original game but the cut scenes could have been redone and updated a tad. When you say ‘remake’ nowadays, you are dipping your toes into some vast waters. Capcom’s remakes of some of their Resident Evil games, from the same generation as HOTD, have been completely rebuilt from the ground up and received high critical and more importantly, fan acclaim too. This remake feels more like a quick cash-grab on the part of the developers and publishers, with very little love shown for the original. Complete with a lack of effort to bring a new breath of life into a long rotting franchise.

THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD REMAKE SSCREEN 5


Thanks to Dave Corn for the review. Just a quick little addition from me though. Looking at reviews of this on Switch, they all bring up a poor control scheme. PCMag UK says: “Lacks a control scheme that’s as accurate as a light gun”. ScreenRant says: “The joystick method isn’t particularly satisfying, as it’s akin to dragging a mouse cursor around the screen to shoot at enemies. The gyroscope control scheme is even worse”. IGN say: “…frustrating controls, poor gyro aiming…”. Nintendo Life said: “Controls can be annoyingly inaccurate”.

I’ve not found a review, on any platform, that hasn’t had something negative to say about the controls. So I don’t think this is something exclusive to the Xbox version as even Switch reviews bring up the poor control system. How you mess up the controls on a light gun game, I have no idea. It is literally just point and shoot.

The whole game seems to have been a bit of a sloppy effort, as far as I can tell. I mean, go back and re-read the quote that I copied & pasted from the devs themselves about the the game. The poor grammar is a dead giveaway.

Even worse, the same team are ‘remaking’ the The House of the Dead 2…coming soon.

Anyway, I just wanted to add this bit at the end.

Steve.