Re-enact the darkest moments of popular horror franchises in Dead by Daylight

Articles: Gaming
Jan 23, 2021 Written by:Eric Born

One of the grim delights of watching a slasher movie is making fun of the bad decisions made by the victims. It never stops being funny when a group of them decide to “split up to cover more ground,” or when a particularly dim bulb comes to the conclusion that the best place to hide from a crazed killer is in a creepy basement with only one exit. I mean, any of us would make better decisions in similar circumstances, right?

Well, maybe not. I fired up the asymmetric multiplayer horror game Dead by Daylight to try my own hand at escaping from the clutches of a bloodthirsty killer. It was a heart-pounding, absorbing experience that hooked me immediately, but it also made me eat some humble pie. As it turns out, I’m no more capable or rational decision-making than the next guy when there’s a killer in a hockey mask chasing me down.

dbd-6Image source: Gamesplanet

Dead by Daylight’s concept is dead simple, but its execution is full of complexities. In every round, four Survivors are placed into a map with one Killer. Each Killer has its own unique abilities, and many, like Freddy Krueger, Pyramid Head, and Demogorgon, are pulled directly from popular horror movie and game franchises. Survivors have one goal: escape. There are two slow-opening doors that offer a path to freedom, but they won’t operate until the survivors fix five of the generators scattered around the map.

The goal of the Killer, on the other hand, is to sacrifice the Survivors to an unspeakable evil only known as the Entity. Once they’ve got a victim in their clutches, Killers haul them to one of the many hooks that are scattered around the map and skewer them on it. Getting strung up on one wounds players severely, but it's not necessarily the end for a Survivor. Other players can rescue them once the Killer leaves the scene, or players can attempt to free themselves, although they’re more likely to cause damage to themselves than they are to actually escape. If a Survivor is left to dangle too long, or is hooked three times in one match, the Entity will get its sacrifice.

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After a brief but invaluable tutorial, I nervously queued up my first round as a Survivor. I found myself in the unearthly corridors of the Hawkins National Laboratory, which was all-too-recognizable from Stranger Things. I tried to follow my teammates, who were moving quietly and with purpose to the nearest generator, but then the chainsaw-wielding Hillbilly burst in the room. I vaulted through a broken window, ran through a couple doors in a panic, and found myself alone. So much for sticking together.

I can’t overstate the terror I felt in that moment. Surrounded by flickering lights and bloody gallows, I crept behind a crate. A scream echoed down the hallway, and for a brief moment I could see the outline of the Killer through the walls as it hooked one of my fellow Survivors. I thought briefly about attempting a rescue mission, but instead booked it in the opposite direction and stumbled across a generator. Figuring I had a few moments to spare before the Hillbilly headed my direction, I went to work repairing it.

dbd-4Image source: Gamesplanet

I might have gotten away with fixing it in one go, but the game has a nasty trick up its sleeve for easily distracted players like me. To repair the generator, all I had to do was crouch in front of it and hold down the left mouse button. While this was happening, I could look around and keep an eye out for the Killer. Periodically, though, the game made an eerie noise and a brief timer appeared on the screen. In this “skill check,” I had to hit the specified button at just the right time, or my repair process would be halted and I’d make a loud noise.

dbd-1Image source: Gamesplanet

Unfortunately, I was not very good at hitting skill checks in that first round. I also found out that failing a check not only makes a sound, but it also gives the Killer an on-screen heads-up of where that sound came from. Moments after my miscue, I heard the rumble of a chainsaw and saw the Hillbilly charging at me down the corridor. I was too slow trying to escape, and found myself struggling on the Killer’s shoulder as he hauled me off to the nearest hook.

That wasn’t the end for me, though. I got lucky on my first escape attempt, and limped off wounded and breathing heavily. It took a few more attempts to get that generator fixed, but I was able to successfully hide in a locker from the Hillbilly the next time he came around to check on the noise. The generator repaired, I rescued one of my fellow players from a hook. Another Survivor must have been much more experienced than I was, because shortly after that the game notified me that five generators had been repaired and the escape doors could be opened. I followed the player I’d just rescued, and hid like a coward while he started the painfully long door-opening sequence. The Killer must have been patrolling the other door, because both of us slipped out and escaped without seeing him again.

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With the wide array of maps and a broad selection of Survivors and Killers, each with unique abilities, every round of Dead by Daylight feels unique. Players can add even more variety to their experience by customizing their abilities with Perks. The currency for these Perks is only earned through in-game events like sacrificing a Survivor (or rescuing one, if you’re a Survivor yourself), so the game definitely rewards players with the guts to repeatedly dare the nightmare.

All told, Dead by Daylight offers a unique twist on the horror genre. It’s a heart-pounding ride for the Survivors, who can rely on nothing but their wits to avoid death at the hands of unstoppable evil. There’s nothing quite like queueing as a Killer. On the one hand, you’re given a claustrophobic playground in which you get to terrorize four victims, but one the other hand your bloody victory is never quite as easy to grasp as you think it should be. If you have a taste for the horror genre and the stomach for terrifying action, don’t wait to start your first round of Dead by Daylight.