Monday, October 7, 2013

VGR Evil Dead Regeneration

It's time to kick off this Halloween's HORROR-A-TON on my blog! Starting today, only horror-related reviews on my blog!

Let's start with the third and final Evil Dead game from the series' videogame trilogy!

The Evil Dead lurks Withing The Woods, read these reviews and you'll be Dead by Dawn!

VGR: Evil Dead: Regeneration
From THQ/Cranky Pants
Played on Xbox
Also available on PS2 & PC

Type Hack & slash/beat 'em all
Year 2005

"Evil Dead: Regeneration" is the third installment in the Evil Dead videogame series by THQ!

This time the game was developed internally by Cranky Pants Games.

Like the films themselves, the games have been slowly progressing into a more action-oriented direction rather than actual horror.

Regeneration is when the Evil Dead game series became a pure beat 'em all. No more slow survival horror gameplay or action/adventure exploration.

This game reverts to a much simpler formula reminiscent of old retro beat 'em all games.

This time the entire story is a big "What if..." kind of scenario. Which means the story takes place in an alternate timeline rather than retelling or taking place after the movies.

Which sadly also means the plot is absolutely not connected to the unresolved cliffhanger at the end of Fistful of Boomstick.

The entire premise starting with: What if Ash didn't get sucked up into a vortex at the end of Evil Dead 2? Well, Army of Darkness wouldn't have happened. And what could have happened instead might have looked like so...

Accused of mass murder, nobody believing his story, Ash Williams was believed to be crazy and incarcerated in an asylum.

Ash gets a visit by his lawyer Sally, who says she believes his story after finding Professor Raymond Knowby's diary in the cabin.

Meanwhile the book of the dead, the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, has fallen in the hands of Dr. Reinhard at the Sunny Meadows asylum.

The more Reinhard reads the Necronomicon, the more he falls into its spells. Soon Reinhard awakens the army of darkness... and that's when all hell breaks lose as usual!

Deadites start taking over the place!

Ash escapes and find his clothes back. With the help of Professor Knowby's spirit (represented by a huge floating transparent ghost head) and an half-human half-deadite, all dead, victim of Reinhard's experiments named Sam, Ash goes after Dr. Reinhard to put a stop to this madman.

Prevent a deadite uprising.

And get the girl while he's at it.

The game takes Ash all over the place, from the galleries beneath the asylum to catacombs in a cemetery. Closing dangerous portals opening the world to the world of the undead. Facing several kinds of creatures in the woods which bring Ash and Sam to a swamp and finally the nearby Port Turnham to a destroyed city.

The final confrontation against Reinhard taking place in hell where they battle a monstrous incarnation of the doctor at an altar.

But suddenly an unexpected portal send them all back to the past...!? Guess what might happen next!?!

It's a nice change of pace from the usual cabin/medieval kind of levels from the past games. The locations take the player through various original new environments which are a nice change from what you usually get from the Evil Dead series.

The game plays like you regular beat 'em all, without resorting to too much gimmicks (we'll get to that in a below).
It's a very fun beat 'em all with no cumbersome or complicated mechanics.

With some easy to pull off simple combos.

Ash's specialty being his shotgun/chainsaw combo, there's an emphasis with hack 'n slashing your way through enemies with one arm and using your firepower to defeat large number of foes or for final moves.

You start of with only your chainsaw in one hand and the boomstick in the other. The tutorial level picks up in the woods, with the ending of Evil Dead 2. It shows all the mechanics and what you can expect from the rest of the game.

First of all, they have finally gotten a good idea by giving Ash unlimited ammo for his shotgun and unlimited gas for the chainsaw. Hey, it was the same in the movies anyways, finally making Ash a bad ass to play. He is no survival horror protagonist, he should run out of ammunition to begin with!

Secondly Ash can also now turn into his Deadite Ash form. It's a berserk mode, if you will, which you can use whenever you fill up a rage mode gauge on screen. It not only gives 'em twice the size but also twice the strength, double the damages!

After the asylum level in which you go back to basics and start over with no weapon, Ash will progressively get better and bigger guns. From the classic chainsaw to a flame thrower and even a fun harpoon gun! The variety of guns cover all the usual firearms from this kind of game.

Finally Ash can also count on Sam, the half-deadite! You can kick Sam to throw him at enemies. He can be useful in combat where he will grab enemies' face. And you will even get to control Sam directly in some portions to get through though spaces and onto bigger threats.

It's a funny game full of humor. A thing so rare in gaming.

Bruce Campbell naturally came back to voice Ash once again.
The always hilarious Ted Raimi voiced Sam, named after his brother and director of the film series. Finally, also worth mentioning, Nolan North did several deadites in this game.
Ash has some pretty fun one liners, the dialogues and finish moves are always fun to hear.
I like how they played with the idea of a sidekick protagonist with Sam. Usually annoying character you have to protect and care for, here he can even be killed for kicks!

The graphics look great! The animations are all pretty fluid and dynamic even if the models aren't that detailed.

They gave the game a sort of comic book-inspired art style. Appropriate since the game was released around the time the on-going comic book series started at same time, surely trying to mimic Nick Bradshaw designs on the book voluntary.

Evil Dead Regeneration is the first game that really tries something different from the film series.

Don't misread me, it still is very much what I'd call a "B-movie" game not an AAA-title which are so common nowadays, but that is exactly what you would expect from an Evil Dead game.

It is also without a doubt the best approach to finally make a fully playable Evil Dead in terms of game mechanics.

Ash can resort to melee attacks, nothing to fancy, an effective simple target system.

The game relies on some puzzles here and there to progress and open new environments. There's a lot of fun and unexpected interactions.

The game is surely more funny than scary. Actually, it doesn't even want or try to be scary at all.

The music was composed by Kristoffer Larson. The soundtrack does a great job getting the mood right and reminding the film, it's in the same epic genre as Army of Darkness' was. Sam gets some funnier tracks for his segments.

And at last, you can unlock several hilarious videos well worth the patience to find. Games rarely got extras, and these are well worth the effort to find all the collectibles in the levels. They unlocking videos of Bruce talking about several subjects, from Evil Dead 4 to his cameos on Spider-man and even the would be-crossover film Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. ASH we never got!

Overall, a highly recommended game to anyone who calls himself a fan of the series!

Evil Dead Regeneration is easily the best looking entry of the bunch, much simpler but also easier to enjoy.

Very few modern hack & slash/beat 'em all videogames go for such practical simplicity, tending to go for more complicated and shiny mechanics. I can only think of Lollipop Chainsaw or the modern Splatterhouse which have given me the same kind of gameplay.

Regeneration is a must play, it can easily be seen as the "Army of Darkness" of the Evil Dead game trilogy, so you know what to expect with this one.

I give it:
3 / 3 Quacks!

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