When Dead By Daylight originally launched on consoles back in mid 2017, it didn’t leave the best impression. With Friday the 13th: The Game having released just weeks before, and with a glut of similar multiplayer horror games in the pipeline, it was easy to pass over Dead By Daylight.
However, in the months and years since launch it has become something of a juggernaut, boasting a sizeable fan cult while collaborating with some of the biggest names in horror movie history, from Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street to Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Scream. 2020 even saw a surprise crossover with Silent Hill featuring Pyramid Head, Cheryl Mason, and Midwich Elementary School.
It’s true that developer Behaviour Interactive have succeeded in courting some huge licenses though Dead By Daylight is – at its core – the same game it was back in 2017. Each match hosts five players with one as the killer and the other four working together to thwart them. This is done by powering 5 of the 7 generators scattered around each map (or “Realm”) before making a beeline for two possible exits.
Playing as a survivor can look a bit dull at first. You’ll likely spend a large portion of each match interacting with the same mini game as you try to power the generators. There really isn’t a lot you can do when being mercilessly hunted by a killer, so it can be pretty frustrating to watch your character get downed then strung up on a hook like a piece of meat just moments into a match. This is how the killer wins – by incapacitating players then skewering them on sacrificial barbs for The Entity to come and claim.
It should come as no shock that Dead By Daylight is more enjoyable when donning the often iconic mantle of its killers. The original roster has greatly expanded with each character having their own unique perks and abilities despite inheriting the same basic actions and attacks. Stalking the map and terrorising the other players never gets old, slashing them down, and baiting them as they come to revive fallen teammates. The only downside here is the queueing times to play as the killer – even with cross-play now enabled, you’re looking at several minutes to find a game.
The way Dead By Daylight is designed will seem skewed in the killer’s favour at first. However, as you learn more about their weaknesses/limitations and the devious tricks survivors can play on their stalkers, the playing field starts to balance out. A well coordinated team can run circles around the killer and leave them feeling like a slapstick slasher from a horror parody.
It’s these mind games that make Dead By Daylight a delight to play over and over, combined with a more rewarding progression system than what was available at launch. Archives, Tomes, and Ranked Play – along with constant quality of life improvements – have kept the Dead By Daylight community active as they eagerly await the arrival of each new Chapter.
It has to be said that, even now, the game isn’t much of a looker. Environments are fairly drab and lack the same sense of character Behaviour Interactive have worked into their killers, each one based on familiar horror tropes such as murderous clowns and chainsaw-wielding hillbillies. With a next-gen version of Dead By Daylight having already been confirmed, a major visual update is also said to be in the works.