We’ve had some definite gems of horror games in recent memory, but they are almost exclusively single player experiences. This is largely due to the fact that all good horror thrives on making the player feel isolated and alone, only having themselves to rely on in order to survive. Dead By Daylight scraps that entire notion and focuses purely on multiplayer for its scares, though it doesn’t quite reach the mark.
Dead By Daylight is an asymmetrical competitive action game with two teams: one consisting of four people trying to escape the area and the other being one monster trying to kill them. The idea is that the the survivors need to quietly navigate the area in order to find and repair five generators that power and open the gates so that they can escape. The killer’s job is to hunt down the survivors and carry them to giant hooks so they can be sacrificed and ultimately eliminated from the match.
It’s an interesting setup, and it’s one that definitely results in some tension-filled gameplay if you happen to be playing as one of the survivors. Obviously, the survivors are no match for the killer and have no way of actually dealing damage or killing the killer. Thus, their only option is to run for their lives if they are anywhere near it. There are also random QTEs that pop up throughout the generator repair process, and failing to hit them results in a loud bang that alerts the killer to your general area. This is not only scary, but it also makes it extremely challenging to do what needs to be done to win.
It’s really only a matter of time before the killer ultimately finds you, and this is when the game’s many chase sequences begin. Once the killer has his eyes on you your best bet is to run away, but the killer moves faster than you do. This means you need to try and block his path by knocking things over in the level like boards or hop through windows to try and lose him. These scenarios are always very tense, as you know that you need to bring your A-game in order to have even a shot at escaping. If you do get caught you will be hung on a giant meat hook, and typically your only hope of survival at that point is if a teammate comes and lets you down.
Playing as the killer is obviously a much less tense (and easier) experience. Not only do you have superhuman strength and speed, but your senses also allow you to see all of the map’s generators at all times so you can regularly patrol them. The aforementioned failed QTEs from survivors trying to repair generators will give you a heading, but if they panic and sprint away they will also leave trails for you to hunt them down. I would say that playing as the killer isn’t nearly as fun as playing as a survivor, as it doesn’t require anywhere near as much skill in order to truly do well. It’s fun as a change of pace every now and then, but the game is at its best when you are severely outmatched.
The game mode detailed above is the only one that the game has to offer, which is definitely going to be a deal-breaker for some. However, the game tries to keep things fresh by offering different survivors and killers for you to choose from, while also allowing you to customize them and improve them. Playing as a particular survivor and performing your required action to survive will earn you points, which you can then spend on new abilities and perks. The same idea goes for the killer, though ultimately I didn’t find any of the level progression all that impactful. No matter how far you progress a particular character you’re still playing the game with underpowered survivors and an overpowered killer. The handful of maps that you’ll rotate through throughout your gaming session are all more or less solid, however, and result in some memorable experiences. It’s also worth noting that the game is priced reasonably at $30, so the price is fair enough for what’s being offered here.
If there’s a major issue with the game right now then it’s definitely the bugs, as I ran into quite a few in my time with the game. There’s the usual suspects like clipping and lag, but there’s also game-breaking ones that pop up too much. There was more than one occasion where the game would not let me escape as a survivor despite both gates being open and the rest of my team having escaped, so the match just dragged on until the killer eventually just quit. This made an otherwise intense match end in an aggravating manner, so hopefully more polish is on the way to fix these issues.
Dead By Daylight isn’t a perfect game by any means, but it definitely offers something unique that will hopefully be improved upon going forward. Playing as a survivor against an invincible opponent is a formula that regularly creates tense situations, and actually managing to escape is a great feeling. Playing as the killer isn’t nearly as fun and there are some rough spots that bring it down a few notches, but with some extra polish via patches this could be something more worthwhile down the road.