Published on July 6th, 2017 | by Sean Warhurst
Dead by Daylight PS4 Review
Summary: Dead by Daylight falls short in some respects but, for a massive horror fan, it’s easy to overlook the game’s flaws when the core experience itself is so fun and engaging.
Hide 'n' Stalk
As primarily a console gamer, I’ve been unable to participate in the burgeoning new subgenre of asymmetrical multiplayer “Hide-and-Seek” games up until recently, with both Friday the 13th: The Game and Dead by Daylight dropping in quick succession. Friday the 13th was my introduction to this style of game and I immediately fell in love with attempting to survive a relentlessly persistent and nigh unstoppable force intent on dismembering me.
Teaming up with other counsellors and coordinating different plans of attack was one of my favourite aspects of the game and, unlike many online titles, I actually met quite a few decent players during my time with the game.
So when I heard that Dead by Daylight was finally making the transition to consoles I couldn’t help but get excited; as a massive Horror Hound the prospect of playing a game that allowed you to take control of Michael Myers, The Shape from the Halloween films, amongst an assortment of other antagonists crafted from different genre archetypes definitely appealed to me and would serve as a nice counterpoint to stalking around Crystal Lake.
Unfortunately I soon discovered that the game would launch without the Halloween DLC, at least initially, but my enthusiasm remained buoyant. Upon booting up Dead by Daylight players are presented with the option to search for a lobby as either a survivor or a killer. This is a welcome change from the random selection of the killer that Friday’s developers elected for, as it allows players to prepare for each match accordingly and hone their skills as either playable group of characters at their own pace.
The central conceit of Dead by Daylight is ostensibly the same as Friday the 13th – Either do your best to elude the killer and complete a series of tasks to escape or, alternatively, systematically hunt down the four intruders to your realm.
For the survivors, this means traversing the different maps in search of generators that must be activated via a lengthy and nerve shattering series of skill checks. If multiple survivors work on a generator at once then they can get it going quicker, but this comes at the risk of more chances for a player to fail a skill check and alert the killer to their location or simply the killer easily finding the group due to not having a distraction leading them around the map.
Once all generators are activated two exits will unlock and players can escape. If the killer manages to kill all but one survivor and most of the generators are up and running then a hidden hatch will open in a random location on the map, offering an alternate method of escape in lieu of getting the major exits open.
Besides working on generators, there really isn’t all that much else for survivors to do aside from frantically evading the killer’s attacks if discovered and rescuing incapacitated players; once captured, the killer will carry the player to a nearby meathook and hang them upon it. They can then choose to use the player as bait and try to lure the more altruistic survivors or continue their killing spree. Survivors can be impaled up to three times – The first time kicks off a timer that counts down the appearance of The Entity, an all-consuming creature that feeds on the souls of the slaughtered.
If enough time elapses then the second phase begins, with the entity actively trying to kill you. Players must hammer the X button in an attempt to prolong the attack until they can be rescued but, if help doesn’t come, death is always inevitable once you’re hooked.
The game states that there’s a 4% chance of being able to free yourself without outside assistance but, in the many, many hours I put into the game, not once have I seen a successful attempt. If by chance a fellow survivor manages to save you, you can resume working on generators but if you’re caught and hooked again, The Entity phase kicks in immediately. Get spiked a third time and it’s curtains for you.
There’s no way to really defend yourself from the killer, unless you count pulling down pallets behind you for a brief stun time, which means that the pretty much singular objective when playing as a survivor becomes monotonous much faster than in Friday the 13th where players are presented with myriad possible objectives, such as calling in Tommy Jarvis or the police, repairing vehicles or even orchestrating your own attempt to kill the killer.
Dead by Daylight lacks this variety, meaning that despite slight differences such as certain killers having totems you can destroy to weaken them, each match plays out similarly as a survivor.
Thankfully there’s also the option to play as the killer, which forces players to adopt different playstyles to cater to the strengths and weaknesses of each one. Dead by Daylight on PS4 comes bundled with six killers – The Hag, The Doctor, The Hillbilly, The Nurse, The Trapper and The Wraith – With Michael Myers certain to come as later DLC.
Playing as the killer is a markedly different experience form controlling a survivor; perspective is shifted to first person, limiting your field of view and forcing you to rely upon audio cues in order to locate your prey. Some killers are lumbering tanks whilst others can quickly teleport around the map or bound about in a feral rage, offering up a wide selection of play styles for gamers to experiment with.
As a killer you’re much more handicapped than in Friday the 13th, with no sense abilities to assist in locating survivors and lengthy attack cooldowns to contend with. Still, it’s quite the satisfying experience once you manage to pull off a perfect game, although a tutorial of sorts would have been welcomed as it’s almost inevitable that your first few games are going to be somewhat embarrassing as you come to grips with the controls.
The game offers up a nice handful of horror film inspired locales, from decrepit junkyards to abandoned factories, and players can alter certain environmental features such as increasing the fog or making the playing field darker by using offerings acquired through the Bloodweb.
What is the Bloodweb, you ask? Basically it’s a skill tree that awards player different random upgrades and perk slots which they can use to alleviate the difficulty. Certain items, such as toolboxes, can be equipped before a match and can severely cut down generator repair time. Perks can also be applied, and although initially unique to the characters, certain perks can be unlocked and then taught to other characters, allowing players to create their perfect survivor… After levelling everyone up sufficiently, that is.
Graphics and Audio
While Dead by Daylight isn’t going to wow anybody with its visuals, it’s a decent enough looking game and the visuals more than serve their purpose of imbuing the game with a kind of grimy, horror movie aesthetic.
The audio design is probably one of Dead By Daylight’s strongest points – Although not quite as noticeable when playing as a survivor, as a killer you come to rely on the audio to assist in your hunt and everything down to the ambient sounds are pitch perfect.
Although I had a ton of fun with Dead by Daylight, I have to admit that playing as a survivor did become repetitive far quicker than I expected. Whether or not this is just fatigue from playing through another similar title in such close proximity, I’m not sure there’s enough on offer in this category to maintain my interest for the required levelling up of each character.
Playing as the killer adds some much needed variation and, once you find your feet, is easily the most satisfying mode to play through, even if you are hamstrung to a certain degree by different constraints. As an entire package Dead by Daylight is an effective little horror title that has that addictive “one more time” quality but also comes saddled with some unnecessary baggage.
Hopefully with some extra content on the horizon and some patches for balancing Dead by Daylight can overcome these hurdles and secure its rightful position leading the vanguard of this new style of multiplayer game.
Personally, if you’re interested in these kind of games, I recommend grabbing both this and Friday the 13th, as they both have their own unique things to add to the genre and complement each other rather well.
I do feel that Dead by Daylight falls short in some respects, most notably the inability to communicate with other players (Although I can understand why they did this from a design standpoint, as it would trivialise the tension due to the smaller size of the maps) but, for a massive horror fan, it’s easy to overlook the game’s flaws when the core experience itself is so fun and engaging.
Primary Format – Games – PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One
Game Genre – Survival Horror
Rating – MA 15+
Game Developer – Behaviour Interactive
Game Publisher – Starbreeze Studios
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst