Developer: Cranky Pants Games
Release Date: September 13, 2005
There’s an Evil Dead sequel on the way, and it didn’t just happen by accident. Somebody is buying these games, and it’s nobody I know. Who did it? ‘Fess up.
To be fair, though, Regeneration looks like the title that’ll restore the Evil Dead license to some kind of glory. After two video games—the actively horrible Hail to the King and the merely mediocre Boomstick--Regeneration seems to get the formula right. It includes Ash, his trusty chainsaw, a shotgun with a conveniently infinite number of shells, and a great many zombies who require dismemberment.
These are, in fact, a few of my favorite things.
As with the last couple of games, Regeneration begins shortly after Evil Dead 2, with no mention made of previous games or Army of Darkness. Ash’s experiences with the Deadites have landed him in a mental hospital. Once the undead start reappearing, however, Ash will have to escape, grab his trusty weapons, and head back into the fray.
After Hail to the King’s survival-horror action and the time-traveling shoot-‘em-up of Boomstick, Regeneration is more of a straightforward brawler. It reminds me a bit of the Collective’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, featuring crowd-pleasing finishing moves, a variety of weapons, and, of course, Bruce Campbell delivering some of his trademark one-liners. They aren’t as cheesy as they were in Boomstick (somebody is still owed a good swift kick in the ass for the “Ice Ice Baby” joke in that game), but they’re still distinctly Ashlike.
The big change to the gameplay is the addition of a sidekick. For most of the game, Ash will be accompanied by Sam, an annoying but friendly midget Deadite. He’ll hold up his end of a fight by tossing mystical blasts, but most of the time, he’ll just sit there and keep up an infuriating line of snappy patter.
Then, blissfully, you get to kick him into a grain thresher.
Since Sam’s a Deadite, and as such will just come back from whatever you do to him, many puzzle solutions in Regeneration revolve around the best way to kill Sam. At one point, you can jam him into the chimney of a crematorium oven, thus causing a backfire that demolishes a wall and clears the way for your escape; at another, you can deliberately make Sam torque off a giant, nearly-unkillable Deadite. Yes, he’ll get squished, but before he goes, Sam can provoke the Deadite into destroying an inconvenient gate.
Sam can also be used in combat. You can hit Up on the d-pad to boot Sam in the ass, sending him flying towards distant enemies. A Deadite who’s being distracted by Sam is easy prey for a quick finishing move, and Sam can actually kill some opponents by tearing their heads off. He’s just the thing when you’re surrounded by Deadite “snipers” (and by “sniper,” I mean “they’re throwing meat bits of themselves at you”).
I’ve been making fun of the other Evil Dead games throughout this preview, mostly because it’s taken somebody this long to do the license justice. Evil Dead isn’t about solving puzzles or inventing things or all the other crap that’s been dropped into the other games; it’s about chopping something horrible up with power tools. Regeneration serves this purpose admirably.