I’m not hardwired for excelling at scary games (ie: I’m a complete wuss to the core). When I sat down to play Dead By Daylight, I received further affirmation of this truth. Moonlit cornfields, deadly killers, and myself are definitely not three things that go together. My first round, I thought I could get by just by hiding in dark corners. Boy, was I wrong! The intense nature of this game requires extreme stealth, quick reaction times, and the kind of confidence that for me only emerged when I got more comfortable with it. Touting the slogan, “Death is not an escape,” Dead By Daylight was initially difficult for me to play. But once I really dug into the maps, the character progression, and goals, I found it a MUCH more enjoyable experience!
This is a 4 vs 1 gaming experience. Choosing your preferred game mode will allow you to play with friends, kill your friends, or play as a survivor (1 of 4), or the killer. While I can see the appeal of being a ruthless killer, I had more fun and success working with 3 other players as a survivor. Your goal as a survivor is to repair 5 generators, then activate one of two gates to escape the killer. As a killer, your goal is to make sure the survivors don’t make it.
With 7 different survivor characters and 6 killers, you definitely have a nice variety of character choices with varying perks. There are a small handful of additional choices for survivors when it comes to clothing or hairstyles. Playing as a killer offers varied special skills, such as placing bone crushing bear traps, making yourself invisible for a short time, or utilizing a chainsaw… because what would this game be without a chainsaw-wielding maniac?
One of the most interesting things about this game is that the killer and survivors have different points of view. Survivors play in third person, while killers play in first person. The killer has a more limited range of view due to this, but can see red streaks on their screen if the survivors have recently run nearby, and can temporarily see blood on the ground if there is a bleeding survivor.
Survivors can see where a killer is looking by a red beam emanating from the killer’s face in the direction they’re looking. Both sides have different perks you can unlock over time to make you a more formidable friend or foe. The longer I spent playing, the harder it was to stop. I wanted to acquire some of the badass perks I saw many other survivors had earned.
My first impression of the backstory was underwhelming. The killer gains extra bloodpoints when he successfully sacrifices the survivors to the Entity. In a nutshell, he tosses caught survivors onto a meat hook (of which there are many scattered around the map). Remaining survivors can attempt to rescue them by lifting them off the hook. Experienced killers may place bear traps or such near the hooked survivors, which is hard to see in the darkness. At your own risk, you can rescue these players. Hooked players can attempt to free themselves, however there is a ridiculously low chance you’d be successful (4%). If attempted and you fail to release yourself, the sacrifice process accelerates.
I found it more efficient to try to wait for someone to rescue me. If you become meat-hooked and are not rescued, there is no other escape. The Entity (a large spider-legged creature that comes down from the sky) will come and take your life in a whisp of smoke and screaming. Being hooked a second time will progress the sacrifice process. There’s not much information or backstory on the Entity, and since you only see it when it comes for a sacrifice, it’s a little underdeveloped in concept to me. Once dead, there is nothing else for you to do. You can leave the game, or spectate from the point of view of any survivor.
Prior to the start of a match, survivors have no idea which killer they are dealing with. You can accumulate consumable items, such as medkits, flashlights, or toolboxes to aid you in the upcoming match. However, if you start a match with consumables like these equipped and happen to die in the match, your items are lost forever. Perks never get lost, but they take quite a bit of time to acquire and you can only have a max of 4 equipped. Perks can be quite helpful though in giving you an edge (I have one that alerts me when the killer is closing in on my position if I am facing him). Survivors offer varying perks, adding to the replayability of the game.
You can level your character by spending bloodpoints in the bloodweb (points are earned in the matches you play). Points spent on one character don’t transfer to another character, so if you decide you want to choose another character for their perks, you’ll start the new character out at level 1. Successful matches and other factors come into play when determining how many points are earned. Overall, the better you are at helping other survivors and repairing the generators, the more points you will be awarded.
Repairing generators can be quite tricky when you’re being chased around the map. Repairing them triggers random system checks where a dial pops up on your screen and you have to hit the right button at the right time when it falls within the required range. Failing a system check will cause the progress of the repair to be slowed, and makes an explosion noise that can alert the killer to your location. When this happens, you can run or hide until it appears to be safe to come out, or just move on to another generator and come back later. Thankfully, when it’s about to prompt you for a system check, it will give an auditory warning to let you know it’s coming.
I have to say, repairing takes quite a long time when your head is on a swivel waiting for the killer to approach. The generators save your progress if you abandon the repair, but the killers can derail the progress a bit by smashing and sabotaging the generators that are still in progress. Well-placed bear traps and other various traps made it very difficult sometimes to gain any advantage in their progress. This becomes quite frustrating sometimes, because you can’t really see the traps very well at all.
Being successful as a survivor in this game requires a team to work very well together. If you never help your team out by rescuing them, bandaging them when wounded, or repairing the generators, you’ll never get out alive. Staying in one position and not moving causes crows to circle over your head, alerting the killer to your location. The killer will pick apart your team and put more pressure on the remaining members. Some killers I found will hook survivors as bait to catch remaining survivors, waiting nearby to see if the person will be rescued. Being attacked by the killer once will wound you, and you’ll limp away bleeding. There are a handful of pallets on the map that you can throw down behind you to slow the killer down. If you’re not fast enough and get hit again, you are unable to move for awhile and will likely be thrown over the shoulder of the killer. Wiggling your body starts a timer where if he does not hook you in time, you could potentially escape his or her grasp.
The intensity of being chased is palpable… as the killer gets closer, you hear a heartbeat getting louder and stronger. If your whole team has been killed and you are the last one remaining, there will be a secret hatch you can find to escape. This offers another route of escape, since it can be difficult to be the last player and still needing to repair several generators and open the gate. However, playing with an experienced killer with several high level perks makes it harder for the survivors to be successful.
I think if the developers were to do an update to make it easier to work together as a team, they should add in a voice chat option. In the beginning, to me this seemed too simple a concept to make into a game by itself. I had originally felt that this whole game could be a multiplayer option within a game that also had single player mode, but after playing it a bunch, its complexities and leveling system make it exciting in its own right. Spectating after I died offered me a glimpse into how other people work together, and how experienced players are more successful at evading and escaping. The more I played, the more I wanted to keep
playing. While the backstory is lacking, and there is room for improvement, the mixture of terror and excitement over the potential for escape made Dead By Daylight
a strangely enjoyable experience for me.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Death is not an escape!
Gameplay - 7.5/10
Graphics - 8/10
Control - 8/10
With only a few glitches (such as occasional jerking motions that made it difficult to walk, or the animation having some terrible views when being sacrificed), altogether this is a very solid game!