'DEAD BY DAYLIGHT' ALLOWS FOR ENDLESS HORROR FILM EXPERIENCES
Promotional image taken from Dead by Daylight's official website.
Most people turn to video games to live out adventurous and dangerous fantasies that simply aren’t possible in real life, and they probably aren’t running to a game that puts the player inside their very own horror film. Real life is scary enough as it is, right?
Just as moviegoers love going to horror movies for thrills, gore, action, excitement, and dangers, all from the safety of a movie theater seat, the horror genre of gaming is seeing revival and reinvention with multiplayer gamers looking to partake in terrific and adrenaline rush-inducing gameplay from the comfort of their own couches.
Some recent developers have played with the concept of asymmetrical multiplayer action (in which a team of varying numbers competes against a solo player to win individual game matches), and one of the most successful, unique and popular of these developers’ efforts is Behaviour Interactive’s Dead By Daylight.
Dead by Daylight is a multiplayer-only game. Matches consist of four survivors attempting to outwit and escape one killer, within the confines of a spooky and claustrophobic game map. Survivors win by powering up five generators randomly dispersed around the map, which provide power to an exit gate that allows them to make a break for freedom. The killer must hunt down each of the survivors and latch them on to sacrificial meat hooks, as an offering to “the Entity,” the killer’s unforgiving deity. The game features both original characters as well as horror icons such as Laurie Strode & Michael Myers (Halloween), Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare On Elm Street), and Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), making Dead by Daylight the perfect game for both thrill-seeking gamers and fans of classic slasher horror films.
DISCLAIMER: Dead by Daylight features content intended for mature audiences only. Graphic content is included in this post.
Dead by Daylight's launch trailer & other promotional content can be found on the game's YouTube Channel.
Dead by Daylight currently holds an average Metacritic score of 71 based on 16 critics, and an average user score of 6.1 based on 34 user-submitted ratings for its PC port of the game. Its X-Box One port holds an average Metacritic score of 58 based on 10 critics with an average user score of 6.1 based on 34 ratings. Common Sense Media says that Dead by Daylight “is exhilarating and can be a lot of fun to play, if you can get past some of the online hiccups.”
Though Dead by Daylight follows in the footsteps left behind by classic horror video games such as Silent Hill, Left 4 Dead, and Resident Evil, this game flips the concept of a typical horror game on its head by relying less on a structured, story-driven single-player experience. Instead, the game delves into a horror experience that is written by the players each time they engage in matches together that is dependent on the choices they make.
A New Horror Experience Each Time, With A New Ending Every Time
Even though Dead by Daylight boasts an expansive lore behind each of its characters as well as the reason for its multiplayer conflict, the majority of the “story” is written by gamers as they play through a match. There are clear objectives outlined for both the killer and the survivors, but there are nearly endless possibilities for both parties to go about achieving their goals, meaning that no two matches played will ever be quite the same.
Furthermore, with such freedom not usually seen in a video game, the endings of each match will vary, and will oftentimes delightfully line up with famous endings of classic horror films.
For example, I have played quite a few matches as Laurie Strode from Halloween. In one match, after all my teammates were eliminated one by one, I was left to face Michael Myers on my own. I narrowly escaped his grasp through the exit gate and won the match, much like Laurie’s narrow escape and rescue in the original film.
Laurie's Strode's appearance is altered from her film counterpart in Dead by Daylight, but she's just as tough as Jamie Lee Curtis' portrayal of the heroine. Screenshot captured by Roy Mendez (@royboy456) on PS4.
In another, the killer captured and sacrificed everyone on my team, and we suffered a big fat loss. The killer triumphed after leaving no survivors, much like how no one survives Death in the Final Destination franchise.
Unlike watching a horror film, which has a fixed plot that remains unchanged no matter how many times it is watched, Dead by Daylight’s minimal & freeform story & gameplay mechanics allow gamers to play through a different horror film-esque experience each time they log on.
Be A Hero, Or A Villain
What horror film would ever be complete without the bloodthirsty, terrifying fiend to complement the hero? This game has thirteen to choose from (including paid bonus content).
The three killers offered at launch, from left to right, were the Wraith, the Trapper, and the Hillbilly. This image was uploaded to Flickr by user steamXO.
The choice to play as the killer is something that sets Dead by Daylight apart from the previous horror games that came before it. Most horror games force the player to take on the role of a hero or survivor facing a terrible evil. However, each match in this game requires one player to take on the role of the killer before the game will load, and this further reinforces the unfolding of game events as an organic horror experience. The gamer playing as the killer is the one causing the scares and spreading the bloodshed, not artificial intelligence.
Michael Myers, otherwise known as "The Shape," is one of thirteen killers players can play as. Screenshot captured by Roy Mendez (@royboy456) on PS4.
Additionally, it allows people to step into a role they are not usually able to when playing a video game: that of the villain. In offering players the choice between playing as a hero or playing as the villain, they are exposed to two different modes of gameplay and experience, compounding the experience of the game as a whole and increasing its ability to keep players coming back for more.
One Of Horror’s Most Popular Tropes Is A Gameplay Mechanic
Horror films would be nothing without their jump scares, and Dead by Daylight is no exception. However, rather than the jump scares in this game being triggered by a player action or occuring during a cutscene, jump scares happen naturally as the match progresses. Two of the main jumpscares occur when players are repairing the generators to power up the exit gate and when players are being pursued by the killer.
The Nurse creeps upon an unsuspecting survivor. Promotional image taken from Dead by Daylight's official website.
The first scare occurs if the survivor misses a skill check (a random button-press prompt) while repairing a generator. The generator will explode, releasing a loud bang and bright light that alerts the killer to the survivor’s whereabouts. These skill checks come unexpectedly and require quick reaction time, and a failed skill check’s loud consequences combined with the fear of the killer making their way to the survivor’s location are enough to get the pulse pounding.
The second scare occurs when a killer moves in close proximity to a survivor. The survivor will begin to hear a quickening pulse throb from their speakers, which means that it will only be seconds before the killer jumps around a corner. When the killer finally catches up to their prey and hits them with a loud slash of their weapon, the survivor will elicit a blood-curdling scream. The anxiety that comes from this thrilling and stressful pursuit often causes me to lose my focus, and if I get to this point, the killer almost always gets me. It pretty much means my match is over.
Whether it’s a book, a movie, a haunted attraction, or a game, the jump scare is a staple of all horror-related media, it seems.
Freddy Krueger pursues his prey. Promotional image taken from Dead by Daylight's official website.
Dead by Daylight is fresh and experimental in its nature but works very well. Dialing back on narrative, it lets asymmetrical multiplayer take the wheel Allowing players pick between being the final girl (or boy) or the sadistic killer and transforming the best of horror’s conventions into gameplay mechanics that create a multi-sensory experience, leaves gamers with endless and interesting possibilities. New horror stories are created each time they log on, perhaps without even realizing it.