Dead by Daylight – A Thrilling (and Extremely Bloody) Game of Tag

Dead by Daylight – A Thrilling (and Extremely Bloody) Game of Tag

I throw up my hands in frustration.

“That’s it, I’ve had enough for today. I swear, they never play fair.”

There’s no point getting worked up; I know better than that now. I settle into the routine with an air of familiarity around me. A sip of cool water, a bite of chocolate. A break from the screen, some water splashed on my face. Eyes closed, the water running down my cheeks, my nose, in tiny rivulets, seemingly washing away the furrow in my eyebrows and returning to me some semblance of serenity. Maybe a short walk to the kitchen for more chocolate – that depends on how annoyed I am. After all, with this game, 9 out of 10 matches seem unfair and frustrating.

Yet, like a moth near a flame on a dark, moonless night, I can’t stay away. Tentatively at first, wings fluttering uneasily; but soon, abandoning all pretence of cautiousness, pouring hours into the game whenever I can spare the time. As you can probably tell, it’s addictive.

An hour later, my friend and I are still grumbling over the latest in a series of misfortunes as we wait for the next match to begin.

A simple concept, yet tough to conquer

Dead by Daylight is, logically speaking, a straightforward game. You can play both sides of the coin: as a survivor in a team of 4 – tasked with repairing 5 generators spread across a map – or as the manic killer who hunts them down to sacrifice them to a mysterious, malevolent Entity before they can complete their repairs and escape. There’s also the choice to take on optional challenges to unlock lore and character backstories, giving you more insight into how each survivor and killer came to be in their present predicament.

A survivor repairing a generator in order to escape the map

A survivor repairing a generator
Image Credit: Behaviour Interactive

It’s an extremely beginner-friendly concept that’s easy enough to explain to the first-time player but takes time to master thoroughly. Though the ideas are captivating, it’s the franchises that the game brings along with it which truly catapulted its popularity. Love slasher films? Fancy playing as the Demogorgon from Stranger Things or Mike Myers from Halloween? Dead by Daylight incorporates a variety of original and fan-favourite characters from both classic and present-day horror titles to elevate its experience from ‘just another horror game’ to something much more engaging and fun. It’s highly addictive even for someone like me, who is usually averse to gore and slasher flicks.

It’s the playing-with-friends aspect that makes certain games so much fun. In my personal experience, playing Dead by Daylight alone as a survivor has been a nightmare and potentially off-putting. There’s little-to-no cooperation or looking out for the team when you play with random strangers, it’s a gamble you take when queuing up for a match by yourself.  

Survivors and Killers in Dead by Daylight

Each survivor has their own special abilities (or ‘perks’), and so do the killers. While the survivors are off repairing generators (‘gens’) the killer races against time to catch them. Chases are another gameplay mechanic integral to Dead by Daylight. Survivors automatically get engaged in a chase when the killer pursues them. Ultimately, either the killer downs a survivor after two consecutive hits, or they manage to escape the chase and evade the killer long enough to heal or continue with the repairs. In most cases though, blood sprays freely and survivors are plucked off the ground like kindling, ready to be propped up onto one of the several hooks littered across the map. The countdown begins – either a teammate comes to your rescue and gets you back on your feet, or the ‘sacrifice’ progresses, and you inch closer to death.

Different 'perks' that a survivor can equip, all of which provide them with a unique edge in the game.

The various ‘perks’ a survivor can choose from
Image Credit: Behaviour Interactive

Of course, there are ways the killer could exploit the game to make it easier for them to win. They could just wait right in front of you after you’re up on a hook, preventing your teammates from rescuing you (‘camping’) or go for a recently unhooked survivor to get them back on one and subsequently out of the game as soon as possible (‘tunneling’). This type of targeted behaviour is sadly all too common and practically unavoidable.

Continuous Updates Keep it Fresh

I came to Dead by Daylight quite late, almost three years after its release. During this time, the number of survivors has gone up from 4 to 24, which includes familiar faces such as Nancy and Steve from Stranger Things to Cheryl Mason from Silent Hill. Along with constant additions to both the survivor and killer rosters, the game has undergone various visual updates and gameplay tweaks to make sure it isn’t biased for either side.

Having encountered multiple cheaters, trolls along with genuinely dedicated players (those are rare), it feels like I’ve seen a variety of shades of this game. I’d heard tons of horror stories about this game’s community (which is the main reason why a friend simply refuses to embrace it, no matter how fun it could be) even before I started playing it. And yet, I enjoy the game itself. The challenge and the fun of teaming up with friends. After having sunk 200+ hours into this game, I’ve earned more than just 95 achievements – I’ve gained a thicker skin. I’ve matured from a person who teared up at a random’s insult on the internet to someone who can brush it off and move on with his day.

After all it’s not the community that sells, it’s the game. It’s the thrill of playing as a familiar character from a show or a movie that makes you want more. But a chat filter would be more than welcome. Or an option to turn it off entirely.

Getting Over It

“That’s it, I’m done; this game can be nightmarish sometimes.”
“Yeah,” my friend concedes. “It makes me so mad; I just have to step away from it for a bit at times. It’s unhealthy.”

I go on a 10-minute rant on the importance of playing in a fair manner and following the unspoken rules that go with all multiplayer video games – don’t use hacks and don’t be a d*ck. About how I always make sure I treat my opponents fairly, never taking unfair advantage of my role as a killer. I sound like a doting guardian, someone with an expansive heart yet a stern demeanour, whose behaviour seems at odds with his role as a killer with a bloodlust who is ultimately looking to sacrifice all opponents.

Once I’m finished, I bend down to pick my bottle of water off the ground, where I keep it propped up against the table. The cool water seems calming, refreshing. I think back to when I came across the game simply by chance, when it was gifted to me on Christmas. About all the changes it’s gone through, all the updates and polish it boasts of now. All the fun I’ve had with it. And slowly, almost cautiously, I welcome it back into my mind.

“Alright, let’s play one last round. I’ll leave after this one.”

Thank you for joining us at Gamer’s Waypoint! Do you enjoy playing as a survivor or a killer? Let us know in the comments below.

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