Earlier in the month, Sony released the games that come free with a PlayStation Plus subscription. One of these titles is Behaviour Interactive’s wildly popular Dead by Daylight. Despite its two-year age, the game remains one of the top titles broadcast on Twitch, frequently garnering over 13,000 viewers. Personally, I’ve seen a fair amount of videos and streams of gameplay and always thought it looked insanely fun, so I was ecstatic to finally try it. Dead by Daylight certainly lives up to my expectations, but a few tweaks could turn a great game into a fantastic game.
Dead by Daylight is an online asymmetrical horror-survival game where four people, called Survivors, team up to escape the clutches of a bloodthirsty, often supernatural Killer. To do so, the Survivors must repair five generators to route power to two exit doors and flee the scene. While they’re doing so, the Killer hulks about the map in search of their prey. When the Killer locates a Survivor, they chase, stab, capture, and eventually hang them on a hook in order to sacrifice them to a strange spider-God-Demon-thing called the Entity.
There’s a lot to praise about Dead by Daylight. It’s imperative that I convey exactly how fun this game is. You can play as either a Survivor or a Killer, and both categories have a vast array of characters to choose from. In fact, some of the characters are directly pulled from classic horror films, such as Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Freddy Krueger and Quentin Smith (as a Survivor) from A Nightmare on Elm Street. The wide cast of characters makes for an insane amount of variety between games, which in turns makes for a lot of replayability.
There’s a distinct intensity one feels when playing Dead by Daylight, whether it’s as one of the Survivors or the Killer. The Survivors fight to live another day, and the sense of immersion created by the game’s aesthetic and soundtrack compound the player’s sense of dread and desperation. While the feeling of intensity faced by the Survivors is derived from the constant impending doom looming over their heads, the Killer worries about, well, the shame of failing to kill a single Survivor. That might just be me, though.
Aas with any other multiplayer game, one of the absolute best things about Dead by Daylight is the ability to play with your friends. In a group of up to four, you can take on the role of the Survivors with the people you’d probably trust your actual life with. This also makes the task of survival much easier, with the ability to communicate and coordinate, especially with people you already know. Alternatively, in a group of five, you can choose a mode aptly titled “Kill Your Friends,” in which one of your friends attempts to kill you and all your other friends. It’s nothing but good, clean fun.
If we turn to look at the things that Dead by Daylight could improve upon, however, its social capabilities are where the majority of my issues lay. Bear in mind that my only experience with the game is on PlayStation 4, and I can’t speak to the problems the game has on any other platform.
Dead by Daylight has no in-game voice chat, so communicating and coordinating with your teammates as a Survivor is difficult. Players can choose to send each other PlayStation Network party invites, but not only does this significantly reduce the game audio, which is hugely detrimental to attempts at survival, but this also happens infrequently. I’ve played a ton of Dead by Daylight in the few weeks I’ve had it, and I’ve only ever received a party invitation once. An in-game chat with the options to mute specific users, and to mute or leave the entire channel, would make for a more coordinated, consistent Survivor experience.
An in-game chat would be especially helpful when it comes to another of the game’s biggest issues, Killers who camp hooked Survivors. Camping Killers make it immensely more difficult for the remaining Survivors to rescue their teammates, thus drastically reducing their chance of a fair victory. With the aid of voice chat, a hooked Survivor could easily communicate to their teammates that the Killer is camping them, and they should just continue to work on repairing generators.
Campers pervade the game on PS4, and while some people may believe camping is a legitimate strategy, it’s almost game-breaking in Dead by Daylight. Survivors can be hung on a hook up to three times before they finally perish, so rescuing teammates is a huge part of gameplay. A Killer who never leaves a hooked Survivor ensures that they have no future in the match, thus ruining their experience of the game for that round. It’s simply not how the game is meant to be played, as it frustrates the Survivors and allows a Killer who, to be frank, may not be skilled to exploit the game’s rewards system.
Another suggestion of mine, then, would be to either incentivize Killers to leave hooked Survivors or dissuade them from camping in the first place. An improvement could be something along the lines of a significantly faster generator repair speed if the Killer is within a certain distance from a hooked Survivor, perhaps also taking the Killer’s line of sight into account. The generator repair speeds allow Dead by Daylight matches to last long enough for the Killer to sacrifice every single Survivor by simply camping a hooked victim, waiting for them to die, and repeating the process until they’ve all died. This way, at least, the Survivors stand a fighting chance.
On the topic of fairness Dead by Daylight, like many online games, punishes players for disconnecting from a match early. It mainly does this by rewarding the offender no Bloodpoints, an in-game currency used to level up characters and purchase perks, items, and other consumables. If a Survivor disconnects, which is obviously a detriment to their team, they lose any consumables equipped, receive no Bloodpoints, and the Killer is rewarded a “Quitter” Bloodpoints bonus. On the other hand, if the Killer is the one to disconnect, which happens relatively frequently on PS4, every single player in the match loses any equipped consumables and receives no Bloodpoints. This, of course, means that there is no “Quitter” bonus for Survivors who stuck around even when the Killer didn’t.
A particularly salty Killer could conceivably disconnect as Survivors are about to escape the map and win the match, forcing them to receive absolutely nothing for their success and, in fact, potentially lose items. This disproportionate punishment/reward system is clearly flawed, though as someone who has somehow racked up 700,000 Bloodpoints (with the cap at a million), it doesn’t have an especially noticeable effect on my personal experience of the game.
Dead by Daylight would also benefit from some basic, quality-of-life changes. Rather than using a dedicated server, the game only supports peer-to-peer connections, meaning that there’s a lot of inconsistency between games and the connectivity of different players. The connection could be fine for one game, then terrible the next because of a poor connection to the host, the Killer. Of course, peer-to-peer networks are cheaper and easier to set up than client/server networks, so it’s reasonable for a small developer like Behaviour to opt for peer-to-peer connections. However, Dead by Daylight would benefit enormously from the adoption of a more standard, client/server network.
Dead by Daylight‘s menus were clearly developed with PC in mind, and could benefit from optimization for consoles. Players make selections with a rather slow-moving cursor, as opposed to moving through the menu and highlighting options one by one. The game itself would similarly benefit from console optimization. There are a few moments in matches where the frame rate is really, really bad, such as when a Survivor dies and is pulled up into the sky by the Entity. Lastly, when playing with friends, the end of every match dissolves your party and invitations must be sent out again. It’s a minor nuisance, but it seems like a simple fix the developers could make to provide an even better experience.
All in all, Dead by Daylight is an insanely fun game that can be enjoyed alone or with up to 4 friends. There are a few flaws that, when compounded upon one another, prove to be a detriment to the overall experience but not enough to forgo the game entirely. Dead by Daylight deserves to be played by everyone, especially lovers of the horror genre, at least once. Its variety allows for a multitude of different experiences and playstyles on a match-to-match basis. Dead by Daylight finally gives you the chance to see how you’d fare in a horror movie, or how great you’d be at killing innocent people without, you know, actually doing that.