Hot on the heels of Friday the 13th the Game, another asymmetrical multiplayer slasher game known as Dead by Daylight moves from PC to console. Much like Friday the 13th the Game, you’re tasked with either taking on the role of a survivor, or filling the boots of a maniac killer that’s hell bent and bloodthirsty. It’s no secret that Friday the 13th the Game suffered with a somewhat disgusting launch, in fact I made a point in my review of that game that the developers should have (and could have) fixed several of the issues that were present, via flushing them out with an open beta across all platforms. Dead by Daylight on the other hand, is a much more polished and well rounded game, and despite some small flaws, the release has so far been as smooth as Vin Diesel’s scalp.
The aim of the game is simple. If you’re a survivor, you and your three fellow victims need to start-up five generators that have been placed around each map. At the same time, the killer is on the prowl for each and every one of you, so it takes some careful planning and coordination to get the job done, if you plan on surviving the game that is. Outside of a small introduction cut-scene, there really isn’t that much of a story to soak up, but you can check out some background history for each of the survivors and the killers, if you so see fit. It adds a nice touch for those that enjoy a plot, but don’t expect it to wow you, because in all honesty, it wont.
As alluded to above, Dead by Daylight moves over to console from the PC. Something that’s abundantly obvious from
the moment you see the main menu. The layout swaps the traditional menu selection for an analog (slow ass moving) cursor that you’ll be moving around the screen. It’s an odd choice, given how little work would have been needed to craft something more console-worthy, but it is what it is, right? Once you’re done selecting your loadout and customising your character, you can choose to play as a killer, or play as a survivor. At launch, there were some issues with matchmaking, so finding a full lobby was a little bit tricky to begin with, but I cant say I struggled too much to find a match.
I instantly found that the killer, regardless as to which one you pick, is brutal and unstoppable. Seriously, there’s almost no way to counter the killer, which adds that extra layer of tension if you’re playing as a survivor. You’ll need to be quick on your toes, evasive, and mindful of the map if you want to make it through in one piece, because the chances are if you get caught, you’re fucked, royally. Survivors play from a 3rd perspective view, in which you can run, crouch, and walk around the map to do all that you can to kick-start the generators. The balance here however, is that you risk being detected and leaving traces that the killer can follow, if you choose to run, making walking or crouching the safest and more ideal means of travel.
As a survivor, you can achieve certain functions that the killer either cannot achieve, or takes longer to achieve. Outwitting or outmanoeuvring the killer is typically your greatest weapon, which is something you can do by vaulting over objects. If however the killer manages to so much as get one strike on you with their weapon of choice, you’re going to be moving around the map making a heap of noise as you moan in pain, which makes tracking you all the more easier. If you get hit a second time, you’ll fall to the ground in an incapacitated state (much like Left 4 Dead) and the killer will then be able to pick you up, and toss you onto or into a death-trap.
There’s very little that you can do to avoid this fate. Other players can indeed help you out, but it’s a dog eat dog world in Dead by Daylight, and no one seems to give a toss about lending a helping hand. Even when you’re (let’s say) impaled on a meat hook, you have a small chance at getting free before being taken by ‘The Entity’, which is who the killer is working for. In my several hours of play, I didn’t get helped by a single player, nope, not one. I paid that ratio back in kindness by watching a fellow player on the shoulders of the killer whilst I followed behind, it felt good.
Playing as the killer is much different to playing as a survivor. You swap out the 3rd person perspective for a first person perspective, and you’re generally given the view of someones ass cheeks, due to the fact that everyone will run when they see you. You have complete awareness of your surroundings, including any generators and noisy (or clumsy) survivors. I couldn’t help but feel as though the killer has more of an advantage than they should. They’re faster, over-powered, and have far too much perception of what’s going on. It’s not a massive problem, but it’s certainly something I hope is addressed somewhere down the lines. One extra hit before a survivor is incapacitated, or a buff to the speed of the killer’s movement, would probably do the trick to help the balance between killer and survivor.
As aforementioned, killers cannot vault over pallets. Instead you’ll need to either run around the structure that the survivor has blocked your entry to, or smash the pallet to gain your way in. There’s a handful of killers that you can choose from, each of which come with their own distinct appearances and skills, such as going invisible, or setting traps. It helps to add a nice blend to the fields of play and keeps things diverse. Each killer will give off their own noises, which helps the survivors to suss out which killer is present, and adjust their style of play to help counter the skills and traits of the enemy. If anything, it’s a nice touch.
Moving onto the visuals, this is easily a better looking game than Friday the 13th the Game. Despite some wonky looking animations, the environments, the survivors, and the killers, are all well presented and designed. Sure, it’s not the best looking game on the Xbox Store, but it executes everything it sets out to achieve. It’s a shame however that the content is lacking in the map department, but the devs did state a few days ago that the Halloween chapter, including Michael, Laurie and the Haddonfield map, will be on console soon, so we have that to look forward to.
As for the gameplay itself, Dead by Daylight handles magnificently well. It’s not at all confusing to pick up and get stuck in, regardless as to what side you’re playing on. There’s a lot of longevity too, due to the level-up system, the unlock system, and the tasks you can complete within. When you factor all of that in and weigh up the cost, it’s a fair price to pay for what you’re getting in return.
Dead by Daylight is a strong contender in the asymmetrical multiplayer genre. However the lack of balance between survivor and killer may frustrate players rather than entice them, and the lack of map content is surely going to baffle the crowd until the Halloween content is added in the near future. With those issues to the side, I cant deny that I have had just as much fun with Dead by Daylight as I have had with Friday the 13th the Game, if not more, which is maybe due to the smoother launch window. The visuals are well set, the environments are well designed, and the level-up / unlock system should keep fans engaged for a good while to come.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.