Dead by Daylight, the asymmetrical multiplayer horror title from Behaviour Interactive, has finally conjured its way onto Xbox One as a special edition release. Openly inspired by the classic horror movies of the 80s and 90s, Dead by Daylight is frequently compared to the also recently released Friday the 13th: The Game. Both rely on a killer versus survivors game play mechanic, in that a lone killer or monster is on a mission to eliminate a team of survivors. If the survivors want any hope of escaping the killer’s brutal grasp, they’re going to have to work together and employ a combination of stealth and strategy.
When Dead by Daylight is initially launched, players are introduced with a cinematic cut scene of two survivors working to repair a generator. They’re detected by the killer, who then beats them down before hanging them up on a sacrificial hook. A third survivor spectates the brutality, before taking advantage of the killer being distracted to make his own way toward the generator. This opening sequence is as close to a tutorial as Dead by Daylight has to offer, and if you don’t figure out how to play the game from watching that alone then you’re going to be forced to learn the hard way.
While there is only one game play mode available in Dead by Daylight, players do have the freedom to choose who they play with and who they play as. A group of four friends can band together as survivors to take on a random killer in a ranked match, or lonewolves can take advantage of match making in order to group up with random survivors against a random killer. Naturally, playing as the killer is also an option, as is banding together with friends to play in private matches. Survivors have 7 different character models currently available to choose from, with each character featuring their own strengths and weaknesses. Players can level up their preferred characters and gradually unlock perks and skills such as faster generator repairs or the ability to not startle crows when moving around them. Each character can have a customized load out with items and add ons like tool boxes and med kits, with more valuable and rare items becoming available at higher levels.
Just as the survivors have access to various characters, items, and upgrades so do the killers. Upon release there are six playable killer models, each with their own stories, weaknesses, and a special skill. Players can adjust each killer’s load out with items and perks to make those skills more powerful, with rare items being more readily available at higher levels, just like for survivors. Once in the trial arena, killers have the ability to see the aura surrounding each generator, making it easier for them to patrol around searching for wayward survivors trying to engineer their escape. During the repair process of a generator, survivors are randomly forced to engage in a quick time event known as a “skill check” where they must press LB when prompted. Failure to do so will set back the progress on the repair, while also drawing the attention of the killer to the sound. The killer is also visually alerted to the location of the backfiring generator with a distortion appearing on the screen.
Once the killer has located a survivor, they will need to successfully hit the survivor twice to incapacitate them. Survivors have the ability to duck and dodge the killers by vaulting through windows in structures or knocking pallets down in the killer’s path. This is absolutely necessary to remember, as the killer notoriously walks faster than the survivors can run. Breaking the line of sight and finding either a locker or tall grass to hide away in is the key to survival, but the killer always has the upper hand and can destroy pallets or snoop through lockers in hopes of locating its prey. The killer’s advantage is even more severe as a result of the game’s peer to peer match making system. Killers are always the host, and a poor connection to the host can make or break a game for a group of survivors. That’s not to say that killers are grossly overpowered, despite their advantages. Survivors are able to vault over pallets, for example, where as killers must either go around or take the time to break the pallets in order to pass them. Additionally, survivors can be alerted to the killer’s presence drawing nearer by the sound of their heartbeat, which grows louder and faster as danger closes in.
There’s a healthy mix of trial arenas available, each of which are rearranged a few times to result in 17 playable maps. All of the trial arenas are shrouded in darkness, though, so “learning the maps” is really out of the question. That said, more advanced survivors may be able to lure less experienced killers into long, drawn out chases, allowing them to rack up a large dosage of “bloodpoints”, Dead by Daylight’s in game currency that is used to unlock items and upgrades. Nonetheless, the killer needs only to capture and successfully sacrifice one survivor to win the match.
For most of its efforts, Dead by Daylight exceeds expectations, but it is is not without faults. Playing as the killer offers up a first person perspective that often struggles to maintain a decent frame rate while chasing survivors and trying to destroy obstacles such as pallets. Other animations, such as placing survivors on the sacrificial hooks, just come across awkward due to the killer’s perspective. Still, Dead by Daylight offers up an action packed survival horror experience that adrenaline junkies and thrill aficionados are still sure to enjoy.