Welcome back everyone! Today we’re covering Dead By Daylight, brought to us by Behavior Digital and Starbreeze Studios, released Jun of 2016. The premise is surprisingly more intriguing than the gameplay originally suggests. The survivors and killers both are caught within the realm of something known only as “The Entity.” The Entity pits 4 survivors against one of a few potential killers. The survivors must activate the generators to power the gates at the edges of the map, while the killer is trying to grab the survivors and trap them on meat hooks for the Entity to devour. Whether the survivors flee the field or are sacrificed to sate the Entity’s hunger by the killer, they always reappear at a campfire, forced to run another round. Appeasing the Entity, in terms of committing noteworthy acts such as being in sight of the killer grant blood points, which can be used earn items and perks to make the next round more feasible (and all this is true for the killer as well).
Whereas Depth spends most of its time on direct confrontation between Sharks and Divers, DbD revolves around pursuit. The Killer generally doesn’t know where any of the survivors are until he sees some sign, such as a generator activating across the map, or the scratch marks left by someone running in panic. So while a Killer can and will patrol or set up traps around objects of import, it can be tough to play because it feels like you’re waiting for someone to slip up, taking some of the agency out of it. Once they detect someone, however, it’s a race against time, as the Killer will catch survivors on open ground, but survivors can more quickly traverse ledges and such to widen the gap, hopefully giving them enough time to break line of sight and disappear into the surrounding area once more.
The presentation involves a number of distinct visual and audio cues, and that is huge considering the importance of remaining undetected. Survivors make noticeable amounts of noise when interacting with anything, and any Killer abilities are suitably “you should run the hell away because this is going to hurt”-y. The maps are well designed, offering multiple approaches, obstacles to both Killers and Survivors, and a spooky fog that makes you question whether that blur of motion at the edge of your vision really was just another Survivor. Thankfully, major events like activated generators also ping on the screen, so a Killer has a place to start searching. There’s very little in the way of effective communication though, and as such playing with a Voice Chat application is common and understandably disliked by many killers for the increased coordination that brings.
While I enjoy the premise, this game has many grating flaws. Even on a reasonably beefy rig, the game has performance problems, such as freezing up for a few seconds when trying to join a match. Loading screens either take 20 seconds or 10 minutes. My personal favorite is when I waited for a lobby to load for 15 minutes, was returned to the matchmaking menu, but still couldn’t do anything because of a “Please Wait” prompt that I gave another 5 minutes before I gave up and force-quit the application. Even after you land in a lobby, you have to wait for every person in said lobby to ready up, otherwise the match takes a long minute just to start. Then, once you start the match, there’s always the chance you or someone else will do something poorly or the opponent(s) will be extra competent, and the whole thing’s done in 5 minutes. As such, I often spend more time waiting for matches than actually playing the game, and that’s a sign that someone has failed their task from the get-go.
Lag is another frequent hurdle, which is one of the worst things imaginable when you’ve got a man with a chainsaw 2 paces behind you, and the fact that the killer is always the host to the match is wide open for abuse. And did I mention there’s a number of killer and survivor strategies that seem designed to be a massive pain in the neck for the other party more than anything else? Yeah. Trolling the daylights out of the killer with a survivor squad full of friends armed with hook-busting toolkits is a thing. As is leading the killer to other survivors so they get killed first. As is putting a survivor on a hook, then standing and watching them until they finally die, granting the rest of the team time to escape but rendering victory completely impossible for the survivor in question.! No one likes to be completely shut down, but the players have been given tools to do just that. Considering my last paragraph explained how long it can take just to get in a match, losing because of nonsense like this stings even more.
Ultimately, I can’t recommend this game, even at it’s $20 price point. I say that because for that amount of money I expect a title that is mechanically sound, especially given the low complexity in comparison to other titles. This game has a genuinely interesting lore, cool mechanics, and is excellent of creating moments of tension and outright fear, but the frustration I experience trying to forcibly extract that enjoyment poisons the whole deal for me.