Continuing on my binge of writing of co-op, today I have an article for you about horror survival co-op games, specifically Dead by Daylight. Horror survival as a genre is a staple of co-op games as a whole, from Left 4 Dead’s adrenaline pumped zombie hordes, to Dead Space’s terrifying necromorphs, the act of fighting against terrifying creatures is something one finds considerably less terrifying when not alone. In fact, one could argue that these games are nowhere as scary if you go from being on your own, lost, confused, and hunted to being part of a cohesive unit that cuts through zombies, aliens, and alien zombies. In fact, survival horror hit a golden age with games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, where things like Nemesis, Pyramid Head, or Slenderman-esque creatures would hunt you as an unstoppable force, of which the options were to hide, flee, or simply die.
Now, what happens when you combine these efforts? It’s simply impossible to make it work, or so I would have said a few years back. The fundamental concept of Dead by Daylight is such: classic survival horror movie. While it’s entertaining to watch something like Halloween, Alien, Predator, or anything with an insane hillbilly, playing it is a different story, typically either unbalanced or boring. Dead by Daylight puts you in an interesting position by having plays both as the survivors attempting to escape as well as the unstoppable killer.
As the survivors, you play as a fairly stereotypical character, typically of the high school archetype such as a jock or nerd and even Bill from L4D. As a killer, you play as the aforementioned stereotypical killer characters, from a chainsaw wielding hillbilly, to legitimate Michael Myers from Halloween, to a cloaking monster akin to predator. With all of these together you get a fun game with a person taking turns actively hunting his/her friends as a deranged killer or hiding and trying to escape from said killer.
The objectives of the two are fairly simple with interesting mechanics. Killers attempt to grab and capture survivors, sacrificing them to some daemonic entity in the sky via a meat hook from the horrid fever dreams of H.P. Lovecraft. Survivors attempt to avoid this fate but much of the fun comes from using your friends victims as bait for more of your friends play things. Even more of the fun draws from psychological games being played with these friends targets, from taunting them to help one another or simply tricking them into assuming you are camping one area only to ring a bell and materialize behind them.
Survivors, however, are attempting to escape via one of two methods. The first being the group fixing five generators and escaping via one of two gates. Second, is when you are the only survivor and two or more generators are fixed and finding a hidden escape hatch to flee from. Mechanically, a large component of this is rather well balanced. The killer is typically faster than the survivors, except when performing actions such as attacking, hooking, or circumventing obstacles. Survivors are quicker to juke but in a straight flight, leave a trail for killers to follow, opposed to when they crawl in a slow fashion. Additionally, they can throw wooden pallets down and utilize windows as vectors of escape, as well as have a number of tools at their disposal from med kits for healing, to maps, to flashlights that blind killers.
Complaints I’ve got are mostly that the control scheme seemed strange, and the lag could be bad at times but the overall feel and look of the game were pretty good. The bloodweb aka skill tree was seemingly useless and the daily/weekly challenges were kind of stupid. The sound and audio were very fun and atmospheric when the audio level is set appropriately. All in all, I found this game to be fun to play with my friends and while at times enraging (FUCKING BEARTRAPS) it was a great time to be had with everyone. While there are definitely more fun and entertaining games to play with friends (Payday 2) this one is definitely not bad. Now I haven’t played lately but I am aware that a number of updates and DLCs have come out to improve this and I have to recommend if you have more than 3 friends to go out and get this because it can be a very entertaining time if you have friends psychopathic enough to enjoy hunting and mentally tormenting each other (Mindy will haunt your dreams, and hunt you).