The slasher killer power fantasy is a popular one as of late.
Back when Friday The 13th and Halloween came out, there wasn’t anything quite like it, that of course I can confirm as someone who wasn’t even a star in my father’s eye at the time of their release. One deformed powerhouse of a man chasing after a bunch of teenagers and millennials in some deranged metaphor for baby boomers in the current world of today, it was unique. Well, at the time, before Friday The 13th Part 87: Jason Goes To File His Taxes, at least.
Surprisingly, it’s only until now that a full scale mainstream release would arrive, with the notoriously buggy Friday The 13th: The Game coming out recently and Dead By Daylight, a PC title released in 2015 but has just now received console ports for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
This fine little horror game comes to us from bEHAVIOUR, developers of the bite-sized blast of joy that is Doritos Crash Course and it’s sequel (No, seriously, look it up.) along with movie-licensed games and last gen ports for a while before going out to make this great title. I don’t know if you can tell, but I really enjoyed playing this game.
Well, the general idea of it, anyway, it’s somewhat refreshing to see the old Mike Myers lobbies from the Modern Warfare days into a full blown title with effort put into it. And to see bEHAVIOUR work on this and add even the most minimal amount of variety into Dead By Daylight is commendable, to say the very least.
The basic gist of it is that there’s 4 survivors, with 7 to pick from, all of them generic archetypes from the slasher movies of yesteryear. They’re all variations on the redshirts in horror films, the ones with no background so they can be murdered with no emotion 24 seconds in. On the other end is the killer, one from a choice of 6, store brand Jason Voorhees and bootleg Leatherface being examples. But the originality of them isn’t what matters. They are merely the topping on this unrelenting horror cake.
Your goal as the survivors is to escape from this hell you’ve been placed in. Easier said than done as you have to power up the exit doors with 4 or 5 generators, dotted around the map for you to find and repair. While you search for the power, the killer is searching for you, strolling around the grounds for a new body to use as a paperweight or to sacrifice to The Entity, an all-seeing, all-knowing spider thing that is so entitled to his position, it has to have it’s meals delivered to them on a rusty hook and screaming.
Between you, killer, and Entity, is a feeling that’s saccharine but immense in any horror movie, freedom. Before that though is tension. And it’s some incredible nail-biting tension. As soon as your hear that rising heartbeat, notifying you of the killers closing presence, the fear kicks in and those trademark long and planned breaths are taken, praying to your chosen god by name that they didn’t see your sweet threads while you were jacking up the generator.
My only complaint is that the survivor’s objectives aren’t varied. It’s always “get the generators and run” with literally nothing else. a few spitball ideas would be a boat that’s adrift in the middle of the ocean, with one lifeboat being held by the killer’s spawn point. Or just a flat out marathon, a long stretch of ground that the 4 are placed on, with some intertwining parts of course, so you can attempt to outrun him. But that’s just off the top of my head, there’s probably more scenario’s I can’t think of.
In terms of defense, you haven’t got much. There’s a flashlight which doesn’t seem to do anything against him, beside grab you easily. The only other option is to throw obstacles in the way while they’re chasing you. It sounds and looks one-note in it’s execution but it adds to the helplessness and terror of the situation and makes escape and victory that much more satisfying.
You might have noticed that in the past 590 words or so, I haven’t brushed upon the killer’s game play in any great detail. A simple reason for that, it’s because it isn’t as good as the survivors. Oh, it’s still a blast, frolicking around the fields like a psychopathic princess picking posies. And to use some of the killer’s unique abilities to grab your victims, like The Trapper’s bear traps to catch unsuspecting players who try to save their fallen brethren, or The Doctor’s jump scare ability in order to spot drifters lurking near you, is still immensely satisfying. But there are certain things that hold it back. Like the console port itself.
Yes, it seems that Dead By Deadlight suffers from some of the same issues that plagued the absolutely atrocious port of 7 Days to Die, although not to such a great length. Some of the hallmark issues are still present though, the frame-rate that can be replicated with a random number generator and an awful interface are some examples. But the worst offense comes from the game’s unfortunate tendency to crash the entire console every once in a while, which happened to me and a multitude of friends once or twice each. (At least, on Xbox One.) It’s not as bad as 7 Days to Die but really, what is?
I’ve digressed quite hard and, in reality, playing as a killer isn’t as bad as I’ve implied. Me and the aforementioned friends have had a blast with the killers, the Hillbilly’s sheer ballsy-ness and The Wraith’s tricky invisibility being both comedic and horrific high points, but this doesn’t hold a candle to the sheer terror on display as a survivor.
I really want to praise this game on it’s merits only and, if I could, I’d rate the game 10/10 on the experience alone. But from the buggy net code in public matches, the lack of variety in overall objectives in the game, the awful user interface and it’s tendency to crash unexpectedly, it leaves Dead By Daylight crippled at launch.
But, at the end of the day, it trumps it’s competitors by being cheaper and overall, it offers more in spades. So, convince your friends and family to grab this game and join the madhouse. Survive.
This review of Dead by Daylight is based on the Xbox One version of the game.
A severely scary title held back by a equally scary multitude of issues which doesn't stop it from being the most terrifying experience of 2017.
Owner of the largest collection of indie games in the Western Hemisphere, and TimeSplitters’ biggest fanboy.