Until now, the horror genre of games has been dominated by single player games like the Silent Hill series. There haven’t been too many options when it comes to being scared with friends, at least until a few years ago when online play became ubiquitous. In this Dead by Daylight review, we’ll look at this popular addition to the library of any horror fan.
What Is Dead By Daylight?
One of the most difficult genres to emulate in games is horror. While jump scares are a dime a dozen, true horror relies on ambiance and tension. Silent Hill broke the genre wide open when it first released to the game playing masses. For single-player it was the gold standard all others were judged against. But, when it came to playing with or against friends, there were few good options on the market.
Balance in a multi-player setting is key. Matching two even teams is as simple as aggregating the average skill level and balancing that on each side- yeah, so simple. Team play is one thing, but horror and terror are asymmetrical; the right balance is one versus many. In the case of Dead by Daylight, it’s one versus four. Asymmetrical multi-player has floundered in the past, but in this Dead by Daylight review, we found fun and terror in perfect balance.
This Dead by Daylight review will cover the two basic sides to each match: Survivors and Killers. The game is broken into single matches that pit four survivors against one supercharged killer. There are several choices on each side of the match, with each one greatly influencing how the game is played.
A randomly selected map sets the stage for each untimed match. Yes, you read that correctly; there are no timers dictating the match length. In practice, this makes it easy for different play styles to take advantage of the procedurally generated settings.
The four survivors are dropped into a hellish landscape guarded by walls on all sides. Within each map there are seven to ten randomly placed generators that, once repaired, will allow you to escape from the pursuing hunter. Every match we played for this Dead by Daylight review had a different feel and energy, giving a wide variety of experiences.
The killer moves through the map hunting for the survivors trying to escape. With two distinct game styles, playing as the killer or a survivor can affect the progression of the matches. As you play through each character, both survivor and killer, you use the Blood Web to spend Blood Points and open new abilities and tools for future matches.
There is no overarching storyline and no real continuity between each match, making this a fast and furious multi-player that’s good for one-off casual play. Depending on whether you’re the killer or survivor, each match can switch between slow or fast pace in a split-second. The next few sections of this Dead by Daylight review will go into further detail on playing as either survivor or killer.
Playing To Survive
In every other example of asymmetrical multi-player games, being the killer is always more fun than being the running victim. It’s an almost impossible balance that this game has worked hard to find. Out of all the comparisons made for this Dead by Daylight review, none of them came close to matching the balance of fun found in both playable sides of the match.
There are a half-dozen different survivors to choose from in the base version of the game, with each one boasting a unique set of skills and abilities. Some survivors are good at repairing generators. Some of them are best at hiding and running. There’s even a survivor with the ability to affect the luck of the whole team. The variety of characters makes it easy to find a skill tree that works with your particular play style.
Because there’s no overarching timer to drive a quick playing style, it makes strategizing and teamwork that much easier. It’s amazing how different mixes of survivors, four in each match, can flavor each game differently. Pairing this with the random matching of killers and their unique set of abilities, along with the hundreds of tools and collectibles from both sides, then it makes every match feel unique enough to keep you on your toes.
Using auditory clues like a heartbeat and flying crows gives the survivor a clue to the location of the pursuing killer. Played in third-person, the survivor has a wide view of the play area, giving them the sight advantage over the killer. This one feature seems to add the most balance between the two sides. You can be a lone wolf that only cares about their own escape or try for a greater difficulty and make sure all four of you make it out alive.
It’s all up to you, and three other poor souls dropped into this hellish landscape, and that’s more fun than we could describe in this Dead by Daylight review.
Playing To Terrorize
Surviving is great fun, but we all just want to be our favorite monsters and run down the poor survivors. This Dead by Daylight review gave us lots of reasons to love playing as the lonesome side in a multi-player match. The biggest plus this game has going for it is the introduction of some of the most famous monsters from the silver screen.
Though they’re mostly add-ons, the intellectual property monsters are the best thing about this game. Play as Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Leatherface, or even the pig-masked killer from the Saw franchise. Each killer comes with their own play area and collection of abilities. For example, Freddy Krueger pursues survivors in silence until he sends them into the dream world, a dark and foggy version of the current map where he can slice and dice them as he sees fit.
The survivors have the edge over the killer as far as the field of view because the killer is locked into a first-person perspective. The killer more than makes up for their limited perspective with a fast pursuit and long reach. The survivors are notified of your approach by an increased heartbeat, the tempo set by your distance from them. They have no way to kill you, so the only option is to try to fix the generators before you find them and hook them.
The growing sets of skills and collectibles make the killer a fun character to grow with each match.
How It Compares
We chose some similar games from recent memory to compare in this Dead by Daylight review.
- Survive together…or not. Survivors can either cooperate with the others, or be selfish. Chances for survival depend on...
- Where am I? Each level is procedurally generated, so you'll never know what to expect. Random spawn points mean you'll...
- A feast for killers - Dead by Daylight draws deom all corners of the horror world. Play anything from a powerful Slasher...
Average price is based on console editions.
Overview (4/5 STARS)
A simple game with an easy premise, this always-online multi-player is all about survival, or with the killers, pure murder and terror. A great example of rising tension as a motivator.
Storyline (0/5 STARS)
It’s hard to give any game zero stars, but in this case, we had no choice; there is no story to rate. Each game session is a standalone where the pairing of survivors and the killer is made at random. There is no continuing story or continuity between game sessions.
Graphics (3/5 STARS)
The graphics aren’t bad; they’re right where they should be for a game of this type. The recurring issue of lagging is sporadic and wholly dependent on the host server. The person playing as the murdering monster is also the lobby host, so the quality of gameplay is affected by the bandwidth available from their internet provider.
Of all the games compared in this Dead By Daylight review, Dying Light comes the closest to the asymmetrical multi-player mode presented in this Dead by Daylight review. The Following is an expansion for the base version of Dying Light, adding a new map that nearly doubles the size of all previous versions combined.
Average price based on console editions.
Overview (4/5 STARS)
The Following is an excellent add-on to the vanilla version of Dying Light. By adding new weapons and vehicles to the game mechanics, they’ve found a good balance between familiar gameplay and new challenges. The most common problem we had with this game involved the unusually steep difficulty curve, with it quickly devolving into almost impossible missions.
Storyline (3/5 STARS)
Though superior to the storyline in the base game, The Following suffers from a derivative narrative involving basic exploration and the frequent pursuit of monsters. The massive map and new weapons make up for the lackluster story. This is a Dead by Daylight review, so it’s hard to compare that storyline (or lack thereof) to any of the others.
Graphics (5/5 STARS)
Dying Light: The Following is the best example of horror graphics we experienced for this Dead by Daylight review. We love the use of the day/night cycle and the overall ambiance change that happens with it. The graphics express the terror as the sun sets on this quarantined piece of civilization.
- Survival horror returns - A brand new tale in the Resident Evil Revelations saga comes to current and next generation...
- Clare Redfield and Moira Burton star - Fan favorite Claire returns to the horrors that haunted her in the past alongside...
- Evil is watching - Set in what appears to be an abandoned detention facility on a remote island, the horror awaits...
The original gangster of survival horror, Resident Evil is back with more jump scares and eerie music than ever. Once again they opt for the third-person view, reducing the need to peek around corners or behind objects. Compared against the other titles in this Dead By Daylight review, Resident Evil Revelations comes the closest to matching the tension and ambiance needed for a good horror game.
Average price range for console editions, with a wide range of different editions with various features.
Overview (3/5 STARS)
Though it was well received at the time of release, way back in 2012, the game has not aged well when compared to the others in this Dead by Daylight review. A fun and fitting sequel that’s good for at least one play-through.
Storyline (1/5 STARS)
It’s every other Resident Evil game, only this time they’re on a boat in the ocean. Though the long corridors and twisting guts of massive a ship make for an excellent setting to scare the player, the game retreads the same old story as every other edition that came before it.
Graphics (3/5 STARS)
This edition of Resident evil is on par with every other game that came out that year, but now half a decade has passed, and the age is starting to show when compared to more recent releases.
- Includes: Borderlands 2 Main Game, Captain Scarlett and her Pirate?s Booty, Mr. Torgue?s Campaign of Carnage, Sir...
- Premiere Club Content: Gaige, the Mechromancer Character Class, Gearbox Gun Pack, Golden Key, Vault Hunter's Relic
- Krieg, the Psycho Character Class, Collector?s Edition Heads and Skins, Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 1
This title stands out amongst the other comparisons in this Dead By Daylight review because it’s not considered part of the horror genre. That’s not to say Borderlands 2 is for the weak. A stunning follow-up in the immensely popular series, this first-person shooter has a massive playable world and more collectibles than any other games of this type.
Average price of Borderlands 2 console editions.
Overview (4/5 STARS)
This was one of the best-received sequels in recent memory. This was the best-reviewed game on this list even though it is not considered the same genre as Dead by Daylight.
Storyline (5/5 STARS)
A mysterious entity is calling on the Vault Hunters to once again fight their way through the wasteland in a never-ending battle to collect all the loot you could dream of. The series continues the tongue-in-cheek approach with humor and engaging characters everywhere in the open world.
Graphics (3/5 STARS)
Borderlands stands out again in this Dead by Daylight review because of the patented “draw” style of graphics. With heavy borders and stark color shading, the world looks more like a comic book than a real-world render.
Dead By Daylight Review - Conclusion
We loved getting to know these characters and maps for this Dead by Daylight review. The progressive web of abilities and randomly matched games kept it exciting and new for every match played. Because there’s no story or continuity between each session, this was the perfect game for the casual player that loves a tense and frightening pursuit.