Dead by Daylight: a Horror game I enjoy?
Oh hey, it’s Halloween! Time for an obligatory Halloween post I guess!
I am not the biggest fan of horror games. They either don’t scare me, or use cheaply-placed jumpscares which only makes me angry instead of scared. If I would play a horror game, it’s usually more amongst the lines of Lovecraftian horror, or survival horror–of which only a select few are actually scary. One of the games that I personally find to be an exception would be Dead by Daylight, a team-based survival horror game against many famous fictional eldritch abominations such as Freddy Krueger and recently even Pyramid Head from Silent Hill. What makes this game in particular so special to put more than 200 hours into? Let’s find out!
Before I continue: this article isn’t an actual review and instead more of a general experience with the game that I’ve had. I could have made this a review–and I will definitely point out both the positives and negatives–but there are multiple reasons as to why I’m not doing that. You’ll find out soon~
So how did I actually get to play Dead by Daylight? Long story short: my good friends forced me into it. I usually never buy online-only games because I’m not much of an online gamer. A recent example was when I bought Fall Guys, which was a game I did not enjoy and that I regret spending money on. That wasn’t the case with this game though; I came home after working with the before-mentioned friends and suddenly, there was a Steam gift in my inventory! They knew I wasn’t planning on buying it because it’s an online-only game in a genre I don’t enjoy, so that was the obvious solution. Of course, I am very grateful to these friends and always will be. And most of those 200 hours? Almost all of the hours spent were with them, and there’s nothing more wonderful than playing games with your close friends!
But as you can imagine from me saying that almost all of the hours were with friends, you can probably also guess why I didn’t turn this into a review. When I make reviews, I always want to explore everything the game has to offer. Though I don’t necessarily dislike playing as a killer against four survivors, I’ve barely done so simply because I wasn’t too interested in doing so. Most of the killers are hidden behind DLC anyway, which can get very expensive with the amount of killers that are in the game now. So I guess you could call this a Dead by Daylight: Survivor-only review then? The survivors are also locked behind DLC but in terms of gameplay, they’re all the same aside from a few exclusive perks that can still be unlocked without owning the DLC for all other survivors. TL;DR: if you don’t play killer, the DLC is mostly pointless.
That last part is actually also what attracts me to Dead by Daylight at the same time: if you’re a survivor who doesn’t care for anything outside of just playing the game, you just… play the game. It’s a very easy step-in-and-play game for a few matches without anything to worry about. There is a ranking system, but it’s strictly personal and also not really that important; the higher your rank, the more skilled the opponents are as well. I will admit that the ranking system is occasionally very flawed, and you also don’t get anything at the end of a season for being a high rank, which is definitely something that needs to be improved still. I’ll uh… come back to that later probably. Back on the topic of it being a game that you don’t need a care in the world for: the only thing to unlock outside of the ranking are cosmetics, which I personally don’t care about at all. Once you level up your characters and get a few perks, you basically have everything that you need for the remainder of the game, especially once you level up more and more and gain new perks in the process.
I feel the last part is especially important, because there is one thing that I like about Dead by Daylight more than most other online-only games: it is heavily skill-based. You can get really far even without perks depending on your ability to avoid the killer or escape his grasp. It is true that killers can move faster and have unique abilities, but they are not perfect. Especially if you skillfully dodge an attack, that’s when they become vulnerable and that’s your chance to escape. They pretty much can’t hear you either whenever you’re crouching, which led to many moments where I was able to avoid the killer by just crouch walking around a tree out of their sight. It felt like a really difficult game at the start because you’re immediately thrown in the game with no knowledge of the killers, which is possibly also one of the reasons a lot of people give up after a few matches. I don’t think this game is a very friendly one with teaching the players the ropes, though at the same time it feels really good getting better over the course of the game.
So how is a simple game of Dead by Daylight explained? You and three other survivors are tasked to repair a total of five generators that activate the exit gate, allowing you to escape. While repairing them, you have to be mindful of multiple skill checks to keep your attention, and also check if the killer is not on the hunt for you. Failing a skill check causes an explosion, and also makes you visible to the killer in the progress. The killer will hurt you once and down you afterwards, then impale you with a hook through your chest which surprisingly doesn’t kill you… at least, not the first two times. And since this is a team game, the same happens to everyone else. It’s up to you and four others to make it out alive with as little casualties as possible, hopefully even none. Every game has the same objectives, but what keeps them different and engaging are the opponents and the horror aspect of the game in general. Trying not to get found or escaping a chase is accelerating and it fills you with excitement whenever you’re able to escape.
While the survivors don’t vary much from each other aside from perks that can eventually be learned and taught to everyone else and thus not making them unique anymore, the killers on the other hand are very different. They also have perks that can be taught to other killers, but they each have their own unique gameplay. Several killers can sneak up on you without making noise, such as the infamous Michael Myers who can skip the hurting and destroy you with a single hit if he manages to stare at you for some time. He’s probably the most ”jumpscare” killer out of them all–but in a good way. Pyramid Head can leave some yucky goo behind that allows him to put you in a cage once you’re affected by that good, and also trust his sword in the ground to hit you from a distance. The best thing is that you don’t know what killer you’re up against, so you’re constantly on the lookout for who it could possibly be. The killers are definitely what make- or break the game for me. Break would probably apply to The Pig because jeez, I hate that killer so much.
The killers can also make- or break the game depending on the player behind that killer. Some killers are really nice and play the game in a way that’s morally accepted and others… put you on a hook and remain lurking around there, downing you the instant you get removed from that hook. There are also killers desperate for that one kill and will keep chasing one person, and that one person only. But let’s not put all the blame on just the killers here; some survivors also tend to ruin the game purposely by not trying to get you off the hook, or wasting precious resources. This is, after all, a team game, so effort from all players is required. This, of course, doesn’t happen often and isn’t the game’s fault, but it can ruin the mood quite easily–as seen in the after-game chat where you can talk with your teammates and the killer. It quite often turns into a toxic festivity.
Despite every game being the same from scratch, there are fortunately other objectives that the game has implemented over time. The game is still very actively updated, which is definitely appreciated–especially because it has some optimilization issues. There’s a mission-based system called the ”rift” which gives you additional tasks to do while playing the game, such as fixing a specific number of generators. The main objective for me is to complete them for bloodpoints used to get new perks and consumable items, since most of the other stuff is just cosmetics of which most are also locked behind a paid battle pass. But aside from that, there’s also a good amount of lore to obtain. At the moment, this is all there is outside of normal gameplay, and I hope there will be more in the future.
I feel it’s a good time to end the ”review” here, as I’ve pretty much said everything that I wanted to say. Dead by Daylight is a tough game to get into, because it’s not the most beginner-friendly. The ranking system exists exclusively to pit you against opponents of the same skill (at least, that’s what should happen) with no benefit outside of it, and the game heavily focusses on cosmetics and putting characters behind DLC. Most of this doesn’t matter to me personally as I don’t care for cosmetics, and I have everything that I need from the base game. The enjoyment that I get out of Dead by Daylight is by playing with my friends who I hold dear, and the amount of memories that we’ve shared. Of course, this can apply to any online multiplayer game (see: Overwatch), but Dead by Daylight holds a special place in my heart for being a game in a genre I normally don’t enjoy and was also not interested in trying out. Thank you for reading, Happy Halloween and stay safe out there!