Image courtesy of Saber Interactive

Evil Dead: The Game leverages its film and TV roots to great success

Brian Crecente
Jules Faivre, creative 3D art director at Saber Madrid, has more than 20 years experience working on numerous AAA movies and games, with Evil Dead: The Game being his latest project.
The Evil Dead started life as a Sam Raimi horror movie classic, a feature film that gave sometimes gruesome, often hilarious life to first a trilogy of films, and then remakes, comic books, one groovy television series, and finally a collection of video games.

The desire to drop the franchise’s one-handed, chainsaw-toting Ash into a video game dates all the way back to 1984, just three years after the first movie hit screens. But that early PC game couldn’t seem to capture the look and feel of the over-the-top hit flick. Nor could the eight games that followed. Fortunately, Saber Interactive came along this year to deliver a visual spectacle in its survival horror take on The Evil Dead.

Evil Dead: The Game drops players into a cooperative and player-versus-player experience where one person controls the franchise’s infamous Deadites, while the others try to survive the ordeal. It’s packed with references to the full breadth of source material and the clear signs of a design team with an eye for nuance.

We spoke with Jules Faivre, creative 3D art director at Saber Madrid, about how the team plucked not just the major beats of the franchise and its characters from Evil Dead, but even worked in subtle elements like the colors, gradients, and visual tones of the source material to deliver an experience that extends beyond breathing life into asymmetric multiplayer to unleashing a game packed with visual variety.
Image courtesy of Saber Interactive
What made Saber Interactive decide to use Unreal Engine for Evil Dead: The Game?

Jules Faivre, creative 3D art director at Saber Madrid:
Our team here at Saber is a great collection of talented resources, and we have a vast mix of employee knowledge and experiences. When it came to developing Evil Dead: The Game, it was a clear decision to use Unreal Engine for its programming structures and support implementation, general pipeline, and render precision.

Evil Dead offers an amazingly authentic look at the cabin and the forest in which it resides. How did Unreal Engine empower the team in its creation of the game’s detailed recreation?

We really wanted to deliver an authentic Evil Dead experience. Unreal Engine allowed us to recreate this idea in an immersive, playable dark atmosphere that features short and oppressive view distances, while making room for AI enemies and PVP elements for those jump scares. We also picked colors, gradients and general visual tones from the movies and television series.

The game’s lighting is particularly effective in helping to crank up the scares in the game. How did the team go about designing the game’s lighting and maps to make it both compelling and frightening?

Because of our fear mechanics and character tensions, we knew dark areas were essential to help crank up the scares in the game. But not just the same darkness, we wanted environmental variety and with our weather effects, like heavy snow and fog, we can somewhat blind the player and achieve the same results in the opposite way as the darkness. We wanted to be really detail oriented, so we designed terrain shapes and foliage to diversify and ultimately help the overall lighting process.
Image courtesy of Saber Interactive
Were there any particular horror movies, books, or games – beyond the obvious – that influenced the game’s design?

We were 100 percent all-in when it came to including Evil Dead references from the movies and show. While pulling inspiration from other horror and multiplayer games, we also wanted to include a special finishing move system for each character that players might feel is similar to how other games also approach those moves.

Were there any particular challenges the team faced in creating the game that Unreal Engine helped the team overcome? If so, can you walk us through one example?

One of the challenges we faced came when dealing with the AnimGraph flexibility for the development of the locomotion blending with melee and range combat, and C++ conversions. We found that using Unreal Engine 4 LOD’s generator, landscape tools, and instance assets manager were key to get all the maps well optimized.

What about specific elements of the game’s design you are particularly proud of? Is there anything you can walk us through that you think other developers may find interesting?

We are particularly proud of the deep progression system for each of the Evil Dead characters. We created behavior differences depending on character class, gender, Deadites, and bosses. With so much concurrence out there, we also knew that only having a fun game loop isn’t enough, so we prioritized both gameplay and visual variety.

What are you looking forward to with the coming of Unreal Engine 5?

It’s exciting. We hope to see overall performance improvements, tessellation alternatives, and a 60 FPS goal using Lumen for next-gen consoles.
Image courtesy of Saber Interactive
What excites you the most about the long-term possibilities of next-gen hardware and Unreal Engine?

I think it would be great to create a game from scratch without any of the old-gen restrictions, starting a project from day one and being able to plan more meshes without CPU and draw cost worries.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. Where can people find out more about Saber Interactive and Evil Dead: The Game?

For more information, visit our website and follow the action on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube channel.

    Get Unreal Engine today!

    Get the world’s most open and advanced creation tool.
    With every feature and full source code access included, Unreal Engine comes fully loaded out of the box.