The growing asymmetrical competitive multiplayer genre offers gamers a plethora of different options. Games such as Friday the 13th, Evolve (which is no longer supported), and Dead by Daylight offer a unique experience where a team of less skilled/capable survivors goes up against a big baddie capable of ruining their day. Behaviour Digital and Starbreeze Studios' Dead by Daylight is an intense horror 4v1 title, aimed at either making you a brutal murderer à la the slasher greats, or a frantic survivor intent on escaping the nightmare.
The world of Dead by Daylight is a constantly evolving one, with the story being created with the help of the community. An overall jist is a group of survivors somehow wound up trapped in a nightmarish dimension where death is not a true escape, but rather a painful restart. Each day and in each area, they are hunted by others, people who have somehow succumbed to a dark entity's influence which is using them to sow hopelessness, pain, and death amongst the survivor groups. All of this is told through journal entries by an enigmatic and elusive survivor, who seems to watch from afar of the happenings in this dark dimension.
Dead by Daylight is vastly different depending on which role you end up fulfilling. Players intent on being survivors should prepare themselves for frantic, heart-wrenching tension filled games as you make your way around maps trying to complete objectives in a third-person view. Preferably, survivors work as a team and attempt to start up five generators across the map, which then open the exit for escaping. All the while, they must keep a lookout and watch for the killer trying to take them out one by one. Maps are littered with cabinets for hiding, obstacles to throw down in the killer's path if they happen to chase after you, and other little shortcuts to help get away from the killer's bloodlust. As an added tension-building bonus, the game will clue survivors in when the killer is near with a loud heartbeat, indicating the need to hide or run immediately. Surviving is also aided by the use of items, either earned from the Bloodweb (mentioned later) or by scavenging the map and hunting down chests. These include tool kits to help jumpstart the generators needed to open the door for escaping, flashlights that stun the killer, or even medkits that allow you to heal yourselves.
The killer's game, however, is much different and arguably more fun. Killer's have one goal only: exterminate the survivors and sacrifice them to your dark god. To this effect, each killer has their own unique background and set of skills. Each is shaped by their past of misery and bloodshed until they finally fell into the pit of death we now find them in. The killers vary wildly enough from each that it makes for an interesting change of pace each time you change it up. The hillbilly, for example, chases enemies around with his revving chainsaw during a little sprint, whereas the trapper aims to stalk his prey and catch them unaware with bear traps before hacking at them with a cleaver. Each killer's playstyle can vary wildly, from being stealthy and conniving to speed ambushes to even simple brutality tactics. Their first person view also offers a more direct, visceral experience as they can track the survivors, hunting them down to sacrifice them to the dark entities.
The survivors themselves are mostly similar in terms of standard abilities (running, hiding, etc), but it's possible to level your specific survivor and grant them special abilities or skills. These abilities are unlocked via the Bloodweb using earned Bloodpoints from completing actions in the game. While the killers differ significantly from one another, they too are able to use the Bloodweb to gain new abilities or enhance existing ones to make them more efficient hunter/killers. The Bloodweb changes from level to level as players progress, so no two levels are the same across, well, pretty much anything. Later levels will also see the dark ones attempting to block players from accessing certain skills, so be sure to aim for the ones you want immediately.
The realms themselves are also broken up into several maps, so while you may end up on playing a locale, you have visited previously, the map itself can differ each time. Players looking to play a particular locale are able to burn offerings before matches that increase their chances of ending up in the desired location. Each realm is based on the killers' backgrounds, ranging from places like farms to old rundown estates or woods. The ambiance of the maps is excellent, and they are scattered with obstacles, dead ends, and other excellently detailed aspects.
My chief complaint with the game is how easy it can be to win as a killer. While I have managed to survive once (just once), I've found infinitely more success as a killer. Especially before major resets that put everyone back to zero, it can be difficult to jump into the game against a high-level killer capable of springing all manner of evil onto survivors. While this does not impact the overall fun of the game itself, it can be incredibly frustrating to see no hope in even trying to be a survivor. That being said, a cohesive group of survivors does stand an excellent chance against a killer no matter their level. The downside is when the team is not united in escaping; it often ends up falling on one player who will try his best to either restart generators or hopefully find the secret hatch before succumbing to the killer.
Dead by Daylight is a great game and worth playing a few rounds at the least. Unfortunately, be prepared to face some difficult challenges if your killer or survivors are higher leveled than you. Granted, it's, in my opinion, a much easier experience to play as the killer and advance, the challenge and excitement of teaming up with friends and surviving is much more fun. The cooperative experience combined with a great looking and ambient game makes for a fun package, even if balancing feels off at times.Note: Dead by Daylight was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.