We’re in the latter half of 2018 as of this writing, and Ashley Williams is retired. Starz cancelled Ash vs Evil Dead after three seasons, and Bruce Campbell announced shortly after that the character, as far as his canon of playing that character, is done. As tragic as that is for Evil Dead fans such as myself, the man is 60 years old now. He deserves a break! But, luckily, in that selfish sort of way, retiring the character as of the show’s cancelling doesn’t mean there wasn’t some unfinished business left over. To that end, Campbell recently revealed a new Evil Dead video game is in production, and he’s doing voice work for it. Great! So I thought, hey, why not take the opportunity to look back at the history of Evil Dead in video game form. It’s not a large history, but it is an interesting one, and it starts in a place you might not expect.
The Evil Dead (1984)
The original Evil Dead is a horror classic, made on a nearly nothing budget that was successful enough for a sequel almost by magic. The fact it got a video game adaptation so quickly is incredible. Developed by British company Palace Software, this was a survival game of sorts that was released for the Commodore 64 and Spectrum ZX. This game was set in the iconic cabin in the woods, and the goal (as Ash) was to hunker down in the cabin, blocking windows and using weapons to fight intruding monsters.
Evil Dead: Hail to the King (2000)
It would take until 2000 and THQ before another game based on the Evil Dead series would reappear, well after the movies had come and gone. Hail to the King was developed by Heavy Iron Studios, which would go on to make a lot of games based on various Pixar properties and SpongeBob SquarePants. Ultimately the game wasn’t super well-received, but it was interesting, as not only was it a Resident Evil style survival horror game, but also a continuation of the story after Army of Darkness.
Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick (2003)
At this point in time, the Evil Dead series was much more cemented in pop culture as a comedy, and video games were much more capable of support that. Enter Fistful of Boomstick, whichwas more of an action game that embraced the sillier side of things. We’ve also established a sort of THQ Evil Dead canon, as this game’s story takes place several more years after Army of Darkness, implying a connection to Hail to the King. Developed by VIS Entertainment, which would not survive the mid-2000s, Fistful of Boomstick was notable for using the talent of several notable voice actors, including Rob Paulsen and Tom Kenny. Otherwise it didn’t land so hot, with seriously mixed reviews at best.
Evil Dead: Regeneration (2005)
Still resting in 6/10 territory, but more consistently than the previous game, Evil Dead: Regeneration tried something a little different. Developed as the second of three games by Cranky Pants Games (Red Faction II, Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon), this is actually an “alternate history” take that has no connection to the previous games. Instead, it continues the story of Evil Dead II, but explores the idea that Ash made it out of the cabin instead of getting sucked into a time portal. He ends up in a mental hospital, and of course things go very wrong there. He ends up teaming up with a benevolent, half-Deadite voiced by Ted Raimi (named Sam, because jokes), and they work together to use Sam’s abilities to solve puzzles, and Ash’s abilities to do violence. It was neat!
And, The Rest
Ash Williams showed up in Telltale’s Poker Night 2, as one of the playable characters. Unfortunately, he wasn’t voiced by Bruce Campbell. Two mobile games based on the series came out in 2011, but have since been lost to time and obsolescence. The Ash character has also made cameos in two other games, Phantom Halls (which you can find on Steam), and an action/FPS mobile game still running as of this writing, Deploy and Destroy. There’s also a kitschy mobile game based on the Evil Dead remake film, but that has little to do with the classic character.
Based on what little we know about the upcoming Evil Dead game, it’s possible it could be some sort of VR game or “experience” based on the series. Bruce Campbell described it as “immersive,” but those are the only details we have so far. I don’t know about you folks, but I’m pretty excited.