This week on gamasutra there was a game design challenge to put a fresh perspective on the horror genre. Like most people I put up an idea of my own and sadly did not even get an honorable mention. I think the problem with my idea was that it really didn’t deliver on psychological fear and instead was more focused on shock horror. Anyway I still think the idea has some merit and will post my entry along with some expanded notes (damn 500 word limit really killed me) on my idea.
Hopefully everyone here knows who Bruce Campbell is and knows that my title entry is relating to Evil Dead and not Scooby Doo (although an M rated Scooby doo game… there’s a thought). I enjoyed the Evil Dead movies and still waiting for the day when hell freezes over and we’ll get Evil Dead 4. I’m a big enough fan to even play the games based off of the series even though they weren’t exactly the best. I will say that the last Evil Dead game wasn’t half bad and having Bruce Campbell and Ted Ramini in on the project was great. Since then I’ve been dreaming about how I would make a proper Evil Dead game and came to a conclusion. In order to create an Evil Dead game that wouldn’t seem like a cheap cop out there are two ways to go. Either make an Evil Dead 4 in game form or reboot the series, my idea is based on the latter.
I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from the movie “Evil Dead 2” for my game idea in the sense that I want the player to be a badass, but the things they’ll go up against are even tougher. The scene that fits best into my idea is the iconic scene of Ash entering the cellar looking for the pages of the book. He has a sawed off double barreled shotgun and a chainsaw on his arm and he’s still scared as hell to go down there. I want a player who is loaded to the teeth with weapons, incredibly agile and still “wet their pants” scared to go in any dark places.
Instead of just taking place in a cabin the area is now a small community. Ash of course arrives with his girlfriend and stays at the cabin where he accidentally releases the evil force. Ash can use most environmental objects as weapons but only guns and sharp weapons will do major damage. The first big difference is that Ash is agile and can run and dodge and leap over objects to get away, no tank controls here. Second is that any enemy can knock Ash’s weapons out of his hands when he’s trying to aim requiring him to grab it off the ground. Instead of going with the dozens of cloned enemies similar to RE, each enemy in Evil Dead is a deadite citizen and will be completely different from the others, similar to Shadow of the Colossus which focused on quality instead of quantity. Ash will have to be careful as you won’t know who is already a deadite when you first meet them and they won’t turn until night falls and by then you won’t be able to get away from them.
Day and night plays a huge role in the game as the evil force will be hunting for people during the night and people may be turned into Deadites by the evil force. Ash can only wander outside at night for a few minutes before the evil force will come for him and the game will end if it catches Ash. The majority of time at night is spent exploring the building you’re stuck in looking for anything that can be useful. The layout of the area could be created at random with each play through. Your goal is to find the missing pages of the book and save any of the remaining humans left. Lethal weapons will be scarce forcing the player to rely on basic firearms and objects to survive. Even with the chainsaw you’ll still have to be careful as enemies can temporally disable the chainsaw forcing you to try to get the engine started again.
Thinking about it after a good night’s sleep I could also picture an Evil Dead 4 title as well, but this I think would be more action and less horror. What I say may be blasphemy, but I don’t think Bruce Campbell should be in the Evil Dead reboot idea. I really want to create something fresh in the Evil Dead universe and I think having him reprise his voice as Ash would be detrimental to what I’m going for. That is not to say that he shouldn’t at least provide some voice acting for the game as I’m not that stupid to completely exclude him from an Evil Dead game.
Looking at the winners of the gamasutra challenge I realize that while I love the horror genre, it is one of the harder genres for me to design games for. Now I know this line sounds cliché but I’m not easily frightened anymore. There are things that I fear but are more psychological and very hard to translate into game form (Why do I have a feeling I just gave Corvus a BORT idea 🙂 )
Developing a good game based on a movie is hard enough but trying to undo the stigma behind the Evil Dead game series is a challenge. Still who knows, maybe someone who reads this blog could get it over to Bruce and Sam and could give me a call 🙂