Dead by Daylight Review – After One Year it Finally Emerges as a True Fright-Fest

Dead by Daylight
Behaviour Digital/Starbreeze Studios

I watched on in spectator mode as my gaming buddy—the last Survivor—strode on through the dilapidated auto wrecker yard. The yard’s many patches of overgrown weeds provided him with limited concealment opportunities, where he’d crouch down upon hearing the Killer’s intermittent approaches.

As we’d originally been a four person team, we hadn’t done so well since only one of us remained. The Killer had been rather adept at locating and dispatching us, and we had only managed to fix two of the five generators that were required to unlock the large, armored escape doors. The only chance that my lone friend had now was to locate the single, hard-to-find escape hatch that had opened up somewhere randomly on the map. Since it was highly unlikely that he could repair all three remaining generators himself, his only real option was to locate and hop down through the hatch. The only problem was that he had no idea where the hatch might be.

As my friend rounded the corner of pile of car wrecks, we simultaneously caught a glimpse of something unnatural shimmering through the night air, and It was coming straight at him. The shape began to emerge from its nearly invisible state and materialize right in front of the sole Survivor. The Wraith had found him.

The Wraith was a fearsome sight—it must have been some eight feet tall, and wore African garments including a grotesque cloth mask with tribal face paint smeared across it. My friend began making shrieking noises (which he now regrets) indicating that he wasn’t happy with the predicament that he had found himself in. He broke out in a desperate sprint as the Wraith closed in on him. It was then that I saw it—in his hysteria, my friend had run right over a partially weed-covered hatch!

“Turn back! I mean go around the thing—I just saw the hatch under your feet!” I yelled at him through my mic.

“Where? What?” he answered, sounding confused and near-crazy with fear.

“Go back around the Wraith, I just saw the hatch!”

My friend seemed to, temporarily at least, come back to his senses. He threw down a large pallet between himself and the Wraith. This act stunned the creature for a few moments, allowing my friend to run around in an arc and locate the hatch. The Wraith had recovered, however, and had quickly closed in on him once again.

As he frantically tried to jump through the open hatch, the Wraith took a whack at him with its horrid-looking skull-mounted bludgeon, wounding him badly. But my friend’s second attempt was more fortuitous, and he finally managed to jump through the dark hole, supposedly to freedom…or so he thought.

Behaviour Digital’s Dead by Daylight is obviously not only a game that delivers some serious tension, it also has quite an interesting backstory. While researching Dead by Daylight’s lore, I discovered much more about the game than you’ll read in most publications. Although it does indeed feature a team of four Survivors against a solitary yet formidable Killer, I never really knew anything beyond that.

Dead by Daylight takes place across seven maps, each which represent locales which were (or still are) haunted. Terrible things transpired within all of them, and now something called the Entity uses these locales, or at least a representation of them, for its own dark purposes. It transports the Survivors to these hellish, walled-off places where a single Killer is lying in wait for them. As the Survivors try to seek out and repair five generators located at randomized places on each map, the Killer tries to track down and incapacitate them.

Once a Killer has a Survivor in their rotting clutches, it carries them to specific areas of the map and deposits them upon large, rusty hooks. Once hooked, a Survivor can either be rescued by other Survivors, or they will be sacrificed to The Entity. On the other hand, if the Survivors manage to repair all five generators, they will unlock the armored exit doors which lead to freedom…or so it seems.

If you want to play as a Survivor, you have your pick of nine of them in total. Each of them may seem indistinguishable from one another initially, but as you invest additional time in them, their individual abilities will begin to stand out much more. You can unlock perks and offerings (one time use items) on the game’s Bloodweb progression system using Bloodpoints. Bloodpoints are the in-game currency that Dead by Daylight utilizes, which you gain from rescuing other Survivors, accomplishing goals, or just from simply using solid teamwork.

On the Killer’s side, you have your choice of seven dastardly beings whom can really ruin a Survivor’s (or four) day. I really liked the designs of the Killers, and feel that each of them really stood out, such as the Jason Voorhees-style Trapper, the ghostly Nurse, and the voodoo-inspired Wraith and Hag. The Killers also have their own perks of course, such as The Wraith’s ability to detect blood trails from farther away, or possess (no pun intended) more acute vision. Each Killer also comes with a primary power, such as the Nurse’s ability to teleport through walls and over obstacles, or the Shape’s (Michael Meyers) ability to patiently stalk his prey and gain boosts to his movement speed as a result.

All of these factors can lead to some seriously frenetic and frenzied gameplay, as the asymmetric setup favors the Killer. I particular enjoy playing as Survivor though, because the sense of fear knowing that you’re probably going to die, before and during each match, is almost palpable. I’ve played about a couple dozen games as a Survivor now, and have only escaped twice. On the other hand, playing as a Killer makes you feel like a powerful and indestructible apex killer.

Dead by Daylight’s visuals are decent, especially the creepy environments of each of the maps. The two hospital maps in particular—the Asylum and the institute—really evoke a sense of claustrophobic fear and dread. The models of the Survivors and Killers themselves are also pretty good, although some of their movement animations are a tad bit on the stiff side.

Dead by Daylight represents a fear-and-panic-producing social experience that scared the crap out of me on many occasions. However, to be fully enjoyed, it is advised that you play it with a group of friends who are all using mics. Although it had a rather rocky debut a year ago, Behaviour Digital has really done a spectacular job of shoring up its many issues. If you’re even remotely a fan of horror, I recommend picking this one up, as it can really deliver in the thrills and chills department.

SCORE: 82%

Dead by Daylight features graphics that are more than good enough to wow your friends with. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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