Dead by Daylight by developer Behaviour Digital together with Starbreeze is a game that simulates being in a horror movie. Each match has four players (known as survivors) who attempt to fix five generators in a park/building/area to open up the gates to the exit. Meanwhile, another player (known as the killer) attempts to capture the survivors and offer them up as a sacrifice to some type of dark god/demon known as “The Entity.” Keeping in line with horror movie clichés, the survivors have no means of fighting back against the killer. They can pull down objects or vault through open windows, but at best this will only slow the killer down. The survivors’ only real means of defense is hiding.
The survivors’ half of the game is rather well done. When a killer is within 15 meters of a killer, they start to hear a heartbeat. As the killer gets closer, the heartbeat starts to get louder and faster. Now while this might sound powerful, keep in mind, the heartbeat only tells the survivors that the killer is close, not the direction the killer is coming from. Actions such as repairing the generators or healing other survivors have a progress meter attached to them and every now and again require a “skill check.” Essentially, a circle will appear with a mark travelling along its edge and a boxed area. If you can press the left bumper when the mark is inside the boxed area, then you continue on with your task. But if you press the button too early or too late (outside the boxed area) then your character is stunned for a few seconds, the progress meter is pushed back a bit, and your character will let out a grunt of frustration (which the killer can hear if close enough). Additionally, as mentioned before, the survivors have no means of stopping the killer, they can only slow the killer down. The sense of helplessness against the killer—along with the heartbeat sensor and the feeling that one wrong move will get you spotted—create the feeling as though you are playing as a character in a horror movie. A thing to keep in mind about the survivors, while they get points for rescuing/helping other survivors, victory (the action which earns the most points) is their own escape, not the escape of all four survivors.
I had a bit of trouble playing as the killer, although I am unsure if this is due to me being bad at hide-and-seek or if there are too many things in place to give the survivors a fighting chance. While the killer appears all-powerful and all-knowing to the survivors, this is hardly the case. As the killer, you are essentially playing hide-and-seek (and murder). The map is usually big, foggy, and dark (in keeping in line with the horror movie theme) which makes spotting the survivors difficult if they are not within 10 feet of you. Additionally, while the survivors get 3rd person view, the killers are stuck with 1st person view. There was actually a time when I was playing as a survivor where I practically walked behind a killer’s back and didn’t get noticed. Luckily, the game doesn’t make you completely blind. The killer can see where the generators are on the map, scratch marks left by the survivors if they sprint, and blood-trails left by wounded survivors. However, I was not very good at following these and ended up losing survivors I was chasing if they broke my line of sight for more than five seconds.
All killers and survivors have a customizable loadout they can take with them into the match. The survivors can take an item (such as a toolbox or a flashlight), up to two add-ons for that item, 1-3 perks (depending on the killer/survivor’s level) and an offering. The killer can take two add-ons, 1-3 perks, and an offering. Perks will always stay with your character after the match ends, but the offering is consumed at the start of the match, the add-ons you equipped will disappear after the match ends, and survivors can only keep the item they took with them if it doesn’t run out of charges and the survivor manages to escape (being disconnected from the host counts as escaping).
Dead by Daylight’s level-up system allows you to spend the points you earn in a match (known as blood points) on items, perks, and offerings within a ‘blood web.’ If everything within the blood web is collected, then the character will level up and gain access to a new blood web. The blood web for levels 10 and beyond contain a twist. After collecting a certain number of nodes on the blood web, nodes connected to the center of the web that the player hasn’t bought yet can be greyed out and made unavailable.
The game has multiple different survivors and killers, and each one has their level tracked separately. This makes sense for the killers as they each have a unique power and add-ons/perks centered around that power. The survivors on the other hand, play near identical to each other with the exception of 3 high-level perks unique to them. These perks are helpful, but not game-changing/game-breaking. For example, one of the character-specific perks shaves a few seconds off of the repair time for a generator. However, considering that it takes a whole minute to repair a generator, this won’t make a drastic difference. On the bright side, you can spend the blood points you earn on any character instead of only the character that earned them (i.e: when I played as a killer, I would usually spend the blood points I earned from that match on the survivor I liked using).
My main issue with Dead by Daylight is that it lacks an offline/practice mode. To play a game, there need to be four survivors and one killer looking for a match. When I tried playing as a killer, I would get into a match within seconds while as a survivor, I would have to wait an average of two minutes to get into a match (and even then, a match will only start if there are four survivors). Clearly survivors are the more popular choice. While not a huge problem now, if the game goes down in popularity, someone has issues getting online, or no one online feels like playing as a killer, then the game will be rendered unplayable.
Overall, while the online issues annoyed me, I enjoyed playing this game. As mentioned before, this game does a great job of making the player feel as though they are in a horror movie (at least on the side of the survivors, although as mentioned before it could simply be that I have trouble playing as the killers). As such, I think a fair rating would be 8/10.
Check Out the Dead by Daylight Launch Trailer:
Released on PC in June 2016, Dead by Daylight has already sold more than 1.8 million copies on the digital distribution platform Steam and is also available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.