Dead by Daylight Review – Good Concept in Search of a Good Game

 

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Dead by Daylight
Behaviour Interactive

I actually came across Dead by Daylight by accident. As a filmmaker, I was doing some research in order to see if anyone had made any decent horror video games based off of horror films. Not just any horror games, mind you, but ones that were multiplayer based in which one of the players took the reins of the main evil entity/antagonist, and the others played a group of survivors, since that is what I want to create (based upon my upcoming horror film franchise).

I googled around with terms such as “horror,” “multiplayer,” and “asymmetric game play,” and couldn’t come up with much. It seems that just about every game within the horror genre is either of the done-to-death zombie sort, or other, similar type of survival horror fare. Left for Dead 2 and Dying Light, albeit zombie games, do feature very limited modes in which one of the players plays as a super-zombie and the others try to stick together in order to outwit it. But these felt tacked on and didn’t offer much substance or replay value.

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In the midst of my research I came across a video featuring the creators of Dead by Daylight, indie developers Behaviour Interactive, talking on YouTube about their game. They were behaving (pun intended) all cutesy with each other and trying to relay to the audience just how horrifying and innovative Dead by Daylight was, and how well it was coming along even though it was still in early Alpha. Beyond all of the coy and smarmy claptrap I did find some of the game’s concepts moderately interesting, and put it on my mental radar (along with about a hundred other games, ugh!).

There was a reasonable amount of hype around Dead by Daylight right before it was finally released, and so I tried it out it and this is what I thought…

Dead by Daylight, like so many overly ambitious and incomplete games these days, is a pretty good concept in search of a great game. In it, you either take the role of one of (sadly only) three killers, who plays the game from a first person perspective, or as up to one of up to five wannabe survivors, who play the game from a wider, third person viewpoint.

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The developers explained that they did this because the killers should be more focused in on trying to find the survivors and therefore would have a narrower view, but this didn’t make any sense to me. In any classic slasher flick that I’ve seen from the 80s (which this game is obviously trying to emulate) the monolithic killers always seem to be keenly aware of where their prey is, even if they act like they don’t at first. Heck, even in the main Dead by Daylight game trailer, they feature one of the killers walking past a female survivor cringing within a locker. He then provides a cheap jump scare by popping right back up in the locker’s air slots since he knew she was hiding there all along.

Your typical Dead by Daylight game begins with the survivors and their killer/stalker in a dark and hazy square arena containing five generators. The survivors must locate the generators and repair them in order to unlock the escape gates. Meanwhile, the killer must…ugh…well…kill them. What a novel concept! Anyways, when a survivor nears a generator they must kneel down and play a QTE game with it in order to try to fix it, which can be rather lengthy. We’re talking, practically being a generator repair simulator sub-game, here.

If the survivors don’t pull the right levers and twist the right nuts, the generator will backfire, thereby alerting the killer to their location. During my first play through this was a little nerve wracking, since I didn’t know where the killer would be coming from, and one of my teammates was constantly yammering in my headphones. However, during subsequent matches I realized just how much of an advantage the survivors have over the killers.

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For instance, although a killer can move faster than a survivor, I leaned from other players that all you had to do is jump through a window, or toss down an obstacle in the killers path, in order to slow it down, and therefore get away. Your climbing speed is also faster than the killer’s, and I saw many survivors toying with a killer and climb up and away from them, only to drop down from whatever they were standing on, run around in a circle, and repeat the process again and again. Meanwhile, other survivors would repair the generators and easily escape.

In addition to this, once a killer actually gets his grimy mitts on one of the wily survivors, he can’t just hack them to death, as in any self-respecting slasher flick, nooooooo…In a dash of absurdity, the killer has to throw the survivor over his shoulder and hike them back to wherever his hooks are hanging, and skewer them on one (in a bloodless display mind you). While the killer is lumbering back to said hooks, the captured survivor has the opportunity to squiggle out of the killer’s apparently loose grasp. Not only that, but if he or she gets impaled upon one of these giant rusty hooks, all a fellow survivor has to do is approach them and unhook the victim, and off they go running once again.

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These factors broke any sense of immersion that I’d felt when I first loaded the game up. Sure, the settings are decent, but there is only one game mode to play and the limited amount of environments quickly became stale. I thought of a myriad of modes that a game such as this would have benefited from. How about putting all of the survivors in a building where they have to hide, and feature different victory conditions for each match? Or how about a mode were some players play as monster hunters and must track down the creature before it kills others who play as survivors? I mean, come on, this is 2016 and that’s all the imagination that you have, really?

Dead by Daylight’s visuals aren’t anything to write home about. The environments looks adequately gloomy and dismal, but the character models themselves are lackluster in the detail department. The killers are okay looking, conceptually, but the same amateurish modeling doesn’t quite move the needle much.

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In all, Dead by Daylight had some decent ideas within its limited scope, but how they executed their project in terms of actual gameplay mechanics leaves a lot to be desired. Couple that with a peer-to-peer hosting system instead of any sort of match making, and good luck finding a match with any of your friends in it. I’d say that although Dead by Daylight is a step in the right direction, concept-wise, it should have spent more time in development before being released. As it is, Dead by Daylight feels like more of a rush-job than anything that gamers can sink their teeth into, which is, unfortunately, typical of an increasing amount of Early Access games these days.

SCORE: 55%

Dead by Daylight features some depressing and gritty environments that are decent to behold, but in order to get the most out of them you may want to invest in a decent gaming PC:

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