Who has not yelled and, almost instantly, laughed after a scare in one of those typical “slasher” movies where teenagers, with more hormones than neurons, end up being killed, one by one, by a relentless killer? Dead By Daylight is the type of game that lets you put on the skin of the murderer or the sacrifice.
The game is what a fan of horror and slasher movies would want. A malevolent force has awakened, and in doing so, has pulled a number of killers and survivors in a supernatural space where the killers have to obey its orders and sacrifice their souls to it in an infinite cycle, called The Entity.
Okay, but how does it work?
Dead by Daylight is an asymmetrical online-only survival horror game. It puts a group of varied survivors against an insatiable killer. Matches consist of a 4 vs 1, with four victims trying to survive against one killer. As a survivor, you cannot attack directly or hurt the killer. Your only objective is to escape. As for the killer, his objective is a simpler one, only kill the victims.
The premise seems simple, but it has a certain degree of depth. As the killer, the goal will be to hunt the survivors through the map. It involves stalking them and hunting them with a variety of skills depending on which killer you choose. To claim your victims, you rely on your weapon to hit them (some killers have throwable weapons). The first time you land a hit on a survivor, you leave them injured, making them easier to find by paying attention to the trail of blood they leave or the sounds of pain they make. Connecting a second hit leaves them incapacitated. After, you can decide if you want to leave them as bait to try to catch another teammate by surprise, continue hunting the other survivors, or hang them on the sacrificial hooks to sacrifice them for the Entity. You have the freedom of deciding how you want to play.
As said before, the goal of the survivors is to escape, and for this to happen, they must activate a series of generators to open some metal doors that will take them to the exit. You will have to pay attention to your surroundings with a killer roaming about, and acknowledge that your actions can expose you to the killer, for example, when repairing generators, certain actions as a survivor requires you to do some skill checks, consisting of pressing the L button in a QTE, failing to do it correctly can result in a slower action (like healing yourself) or alerting the killer (failing the skill check on generators makes a really loud noise). Cooperation is a good friend, but that is not why it is essential. Why not let the killer go for one of the other survivors while you activate other generators? Why not help a hanging partner so that the killer has a harder time searching for the others? The decision is yours, but making these decisions on the ground, which, in turn, randomly distributes different items that survivors can use, becomes the most fun, suffocating and pleasant experience when victorious.
It’s possible to improve characters (survivors or killers) with equipped skills. Said skills are not available from the beginning, as you need to unlock them with bloodpoints (your in-game currency for character progression).
Most actions in the game trigger score events in each Trial that you do (whereas you play as survivor or killer) and rewards you with bloodpoints at the end of them. The Bloodweb is a space that can be accessed by both survivors and killers, where you spend your hard-earned bloodpoints. In this progression-like skill tree, you have to unlock nodes using the bloodpoints. After obtaining all of the nodes in a web, your character automatically levels up, unlocking the next set of skills.
Each bloodweb is procedurally generated, meaning that it’s impossible to find two identical bloodwebs between characters or on the same characters. Bloodpoints are also on a shared pool between all of your characters, so you have to keep that in mind when spending them on characters.
Having A Hard Time
Dead by Daylight contains a complete tutorial for the survivor and the killer. It’s good enough to grasp the basics of what you need to do as the survivor. It’s lacking when it comes to the killer as it fails to inform players about the many unique actions associated with the killer.
The game gets easier the more you play and learn the different environments. From learning the best set of skills to use to taking advantage of items to get the edge in each Trial. Apart from all of the skills and items the game offers, there are also a lot of “realms”, which are semi procedural locations created in the world of The Entity. These realms are divided into different maps with fixed landmarks. The contents inside of it change if The Entity wants, although you can sometimes influence the locations of the trials by doing offerings to The Entity before a match.
I Can’t Recognize My Face…
It is notorious how the optimization of the game was sacrificed in order to run on the Nintendo Switch with minimum problems. Based on the gaming experience, it doesn’t have too much trouble. Yes, you can find certain lower frame rates or stuttering, but it’s rare; part of the appeal of this game is to enjoy a good dark atmosphere. It would have been annoying if they ruined the gaming experience, as the game manages to transmit us the feeling of being the character (killer or survivor), that dark hue of any horror movie and, at times, we can take some scares of the most unpleasant.
There are times where the general brightness rises, which makes it easier to spot the killer or survivor almost from the other point of the map. This leads to a loss of amazing immersion, and that makes a really good game. Even though it is not terrible, it could have been better on the Nintendo Switch.
Music To My Ears
Although the graphics have lights and shadows, the soundtrack meets more and generates a wonderful atmosphere of oppression. During the menus, the music is perfect to create tension, especially if headphones or earphones are used, while during the game an ambient sound will be left so that players can “intuit” where the enemy is or the prey we have to hunt. Intuitively, a chase music typical of horror films will appear that will put us in a situation during those brief moments in which we will have to escape or hunt desperately.
Not Dead Yet
Something else to consider for those who seek titles with long-term replayability is that Dead by Daylight lives or dies with the strength of its online community. This is an online multiplayer game, pure and simple. If the number of players dwindles, queue times to find a match will increase. There is no reason to assume that the player base will diminish anytime soon, but with no current plans for crossplay, that day may come.
The game is priced at $40, not counting that there are tons of DLC, some of which are merely aesthetic or including new killers and survivors to your rooster, like characters from Stranger Things, Scream or Halloween that come at a high price. For being a game released almost 4 years ago you would expect a cheaper price or at least with some of the DLC characters unlocked.
The Conclusion: It Survives
Dead By Daylight offers fun and immersive online matches any horror/slasher fan will enjoy. Its gameplay will make it difficult to put the game down, leaving you wanting to play another match after the last. It has its errors such as a very cut graphical section compared to its other console versions and a lack of customization options, forcing you to purchase DLC, however, its atmosphere, the tension that is created, the very different way of facing the same situation depending on which character or what role is chosen (killer or survivor) makes Dead by Daylight a title that can shine for fans of the online multiplayer horror survival genre.
Final rating: 7/10.