Practically every developer wants to release an innovative product, yet very few do. This is because two things need to happen. The first is an original idea and the other is that it needs to be good. As we saw with The Caligula Effect, the thing that made it special is also what turned many people off. Dead by Daylight takes a stab at offering something different, in the asymmetrical competitive/cooperative multiplayer genre. With so many console gamers enjoying Friday the 13th, is Dead by Daylight worth looking into or is relatively the same.
There isn’t much of a story in Dead by Daylight. There are various monsters that want to sacrifice mortals to a force called The Entity, so you and your team need to escape before that happens. Characters also have backstories, but the story is essentially there to explain why the survivors need to escape from the killer and what is going on.
Both sides have an objective in Dead by Daylight. Survivors need to run around and power five generators. This is a long process, filled with QTEs called skill checks, that must be completed to power the two exits. Upon reaching the gate, you need to wait a bit to open the gate and run through the door to escape. While the survivors are doing this, the killer needs to locate the survivors, catch them and place them on a hook. If no one rescues you or you don’t get lucky enough to escape, you’ll be sacrificed and lose. Even though Dead by Daylight seems pretty straightforward, it’s actually pretty deep.
Both sides are given a number of tools to aid them in accomplishing their goals. For instance, killers can always see broken generators and survivors heart rate increases in relation to killer proximity. In addition to that, there are a lot of subtle things that can make a huge difference.
Survivors make tracks that the killer can see for a brief period when they run, there are a lot of noises that can give away your position, failing the repair QTE alerts the killer, items/skills can give you and edge and more. What’s great is these things, when used correctly, can actually turn the tables.
One of my most triumphant wins was due to outplaying the killer. After losing two members and capturing four generators, my partner was captured around the time I noticed a mostly repaired generator. Instead of going for my partner, which was put in the basement, the hardest place to recover a survivor, I repaired the generator. When it was repaired, it gave away my position and I ran down the more exposed path. Seeing I could now escape, the killer left my partner and ran to do something, allowing me to rescue them, make it to the exit and both of us successfully escaped.
Naturally, this won’t work every time, but sometimes giving away your position is a great way to distract the killer. Often times they’re looking for their prey, so telling them where to go while others are doing more important things, is a solid strategy. These tactics make for an enjoyable experience, but only for so long.
While Dead by Daylight’s core is fantastic, it’s hidden behind a hard to find tutorial and limited content. Those looking to learn how to play are forced to read guides online or notice the small and easily missed tutorial section. Here all the elements are explained, but they’re done so by reading over 50 sections that explain how to play, the abilities/perks you have and so forth. Even though hand holding is not ideal, it would likely make for a better experience by including a brief video or tutorial that players can watch to see these things in action, otherwise, you’re bound to run into players who don’t realize the mistakes they’re making and effectively make things harder for the team.
Besides the so so tutorial, it doesn’t take long to see everything Dead by Daylight has to offer. With something like three maps and both sides having a single objective, it makes matches extremely monotonous. Killers run by generators until they eventually find someone, as survivors desperately try to repair said generators. Even the maps themselves are similar, relying on the same grassy exteriors. In fact, most of the variety lies in character selection.
Every killer has their own advantages and disadvantages, meaning what works well against the nurse won’t work against the wrath and vice versa. The only downside is certain characters have better or at least easier to use perks, so you tend to see The Wrath, whom can turn invisible, over The Nurse or Doctor.
Dead by Daylight might be a deep game, but it needs more content to flesh out its ideas. Currently there are six killers, though only three of them seem to be commonly used, that you can face on, like, three similar looking maps. Combine that with every map having the same objective, a long grind to unlock additional perks/abilities for a deeper game and mechanics many people aren’t aware of and you have a good experience that could be better. In many ways this is a shame, since there really is a lot of potential in Dead by Daylight. Being the killer is much harder than it looks and there is no such thing as a foolproof plan. I’ve seen excellent survivors get the best of overconfident killers and cocky survivors scarified with ease. So, unless you plan on playing for the long hull, memorize every location and play mind games with the other team, you’ll probably be better off waiting for more content.
[Editor’s Note: Dead by Daylight was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]