Overall Score 8/10 | A Killer Good Time – BY ERIK PILLAR
Dead by Daylight is one of the latest of recent games to feature asymmetric online play, with a ‘killer’ twist.
Plot and Character:
By far and large there is no plot to this game. You either play as a killer, one of six available – some DLC locked – or you play as a survivor. Killers, well, kill. Survivors survive and attempt to repair various generators across an enclosed map while avoiding the killer and saving their friends if they’ve been captured. It is a simply formula – essentially a darker themed version of hide and seek – but it works well and I had a blast.
Some character exists in the game, but not as individuals driving any kind of plot or story – rather as people or creatures you can play as. The Killers are the most interesting by far, and all have been given a basic background. We have the Trapper, the Hillbilly, The Nurse, The Wraith, and the DLC killers of Michael Myers from the Halloween movies, and The Hag.
Beyond appearance, the survivors are all pretty bland fair – with the exception of the DLC characters – one of which is from the Halloween movies as well.
Mood and Atmosphere:
In a game like this, which hinges on fright and horror to give entertainment to a simple type of play, atmosphere is more important than most the games I’ve reviewed. And, Dead by Daylight nails it on the head.
As the killer, you are alone searching the map for survivors. You grunt, or rasp, and stomp your way around in search – feeling truly powerful and vengeful in your lust for blood. I’m touching a bit on the Game Play section of my review here, but what happens when you catch a survivor warrants mentioning here.
So, you’ve done enough damage to down a survivor? Usually that takes only one empowered hit or two normal ones. Now, you hoist them up over your shoulder, as they struggle to break free, and bring them on over to a nearby hanging hook on a post, and hang them on up – the bloody way. They’ll be alive for some time like that, struggling as some dark entity toys with them on the hook until eventually claiming their souls for itself. It’s dark, gritty, and fun.
As a survivor, your neck will be bunching and you’ll be on edge – in a good way. If the killer finds you, there is a good chance he’ll kill you, and the only real hint that he is near is the increasing volume of your own heart beat as it instinctively reacts to the horror drawing closer to its kill.
All this action and tension is played out in wonderfully made maps. The locales range from creepy fields full of ruined walls and old stone work, to dark and shadowy cornfields and rusting farm equipment. Mist coats the zone dropping visibly for all, and if you keep your head about you there are plenty of places to hide in a pinch.
Musically, the game is simply but sweet. The developers took a page from old horror cinema in that the score is full of sharp tangs and light to loud building, and nerve wracking, musics. It is a perfectly subtle backdrop to your play experience.
As stated earlier, you’re basically playing hide and seek in Dead by Daylight. Each game is somewhat short – the longest I played hitting 20 minutes – and it’s going to be one killer versus four survivors.
The primary objective is simple. As a killer, your goal is to find and kill as many of the survivors as you can – by knocking them down and carrying them to a hook to be hanged on until they are taken by the dark creature you’re sacrificing them to. As a survivor, you need to repair a set number of generators on the map via time and skill checks – which are quite hard – to light the way to an exit for you to escape. It’s as simple as that.
Survivors are weak. They run slower than the killer, they can be knocked prone to be taken away in only one or two hits, and when injured they make noise and are more easily findable. And, if they make too much noise otherwise the killer will hear it from a distance – via a big and visible flash on their screen and a sound – and will come to get you. But, they do have a few things going for them. First, is that survivors are set in the third-person point of view, killers are not. This gives you more field of view, being able to check around corners and such, and makes it easier to hide behind objects or scenery while keeping the killer in view. You can also rescue your allies off the hooks, only two times until it’s instantly fatal – and heal each other by passing times skill checks.
Each killer has a different ability and play style. For example, The Nurse can teleport in a straight line forward and come out swinging, but doing so will wind her greatly and if you miss your target could escape. The Trapper can set traps, which are great fun to use around hanging survivors. The Hillbilly has a chainsaw charge, launching you forward and instantly downing a survivor should they be hit. While you are essentially doing the same thing over and over every new game, the variation of style keeps it fresh.
I had a grand and fearful time with Dead by Daylight. Playing both sides, survivor or killer, held their own fun and I was never bored during my play in the slightest. I ran into some issues of players disconnecting every few games – when they were hit – and it was annoying but nothing worth too much bother.
As a game, it is a solid play and an enjoyable and fun time – but I have some concerns about longevity. While amazing in the short term, unless the developers work hard at adding new content the game could get stale fast.
That being said, this game bleeds 80’s horror vibes and fans of the genre will love it.
Dead by Daylight was developed by Behavior Interactive and published by Starbreeze Studios, and was released on PC in 2016.
Pick this game up on Steam at the price of $19.99.