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Dead by Daylight preview

Dead by Daylight preview

Sorry, Drew Barrymore.

I thought you were a total idiot when you ran up the stairs while an intruder was chasing you with a knife to murder you in the opening scene of Scream. “Don’t go upstairs, silly!” “You won’t be able to come down later!”

But I recently made the same mistake when trying Dead by Daylight, an asymmetric multiplayer horror game developed by the Behavior Interactive studio. For those of you who don’t know him, Dead by Deadlight proposes four players to escape from a fifth player who takes on the role of a villain who seems to be taken from the typical horror movie. In my first encounter with Leatherface’s illegitimate son during the PAX East demo I did exactly what Barrymore did, rushing upstairs to hide inside a closet, with a much less fortunate result than Jamie Lee Curtis did during the climax of Halloween.

In my defense I must say that I had no idea where I was going, although that’s part of the fun. Dead by Daylight maps are procedurally generated, so there is no way of knowing in advance whether by running towards that abandoned house you will get away from your pursuer or if you will find yourself facing a dead end. If you are like me, your instincts will encourage you to try to hide anywhere, trying to break the killer’s line of sight. A noble attempt, though unsuccessful.

In the next round I played as the assassin, and the experience was very different. The monster – one of the ones featured in this demo – moves faster than its prey. The downside is that their perspective is first-person, which offers a much more limited field of vision than that of the survivors, who use a third-person perspective and can duck to hide on stage. Additionally, the monster’s eyes emit a red light, which makes it easier to see from a distance, and is slightly slower when performing certain actions, such as climbing through a window.

The game with the assassin was much more successful than the previous one, and I managed to kill three of the four targets. It took me a while to find someone in the dark forest, but after that I was able to terrify my victim by tearing her back, chasing her and finally putting her on my shoulder to impale her on a hook, while her companions try to free him. That is precisely what a couple of them tried, who ended up having a similar fate while waiting for them in the shadows.

The fourth player, on the other hand, was a greater challenge. He did not care about his companions, only to guarantee his own survival. For him selfishness is a virtue.

Which, for me, turns out to be a problem. If you run across a map with four terrified mortals, it is not difficult to end up running into one of them, as happened in my game. But when there’s only one left, it can be difficult to keep track of it, and Dead by Deadlight turns into a tense game of cat and mouse.

Because the survivors cannot kill the hunter. The best they can do is run away, and for this they must deactivate several generators, unlock the exit and exit the screen. There are several more generators than necessary to escape through the two exits, so waiting next to one of them is not an effective strategy to eliminate the targets.

The killer receives an alert when someone fiddles with one of the generators, thereby allowing him to calculate their movements. A symbol appears on the HUD telling you where that activity is coming from. The survivors, meanwhile, can perform all their actions (move, heal a partner, deactivate a generator) in two ways: a slow and silent and a faster but also louder.

This makes Dead by Daylight, above all, a stealth game. Playing as one of the survivors is scary – especially when your pursuer is close and your heartbeat is getting louder and faster, indicating that danger is imminent – but if you are skilled you can stay hidden in the shadows. If you are caught you will be involved in an exciting race through the forest, dropping all the wood that you find in your path to try to make the murderer trip over it. Hopefully you’ll have more luck than me going up the stairs.

The asymmetric switching between first and third person view is a very effective trick that gives stealth a competitive edge. Symmetrical stealth games like Metal Gear Online make it too easy to find rivals by having a high number of players, whereas in single player games where you hide from monsters, like Alien: Isolation or Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you find yourself at the mercy of a chaotic and sometimes unfair AI. Dead by Daylight understands that dying at the hands of a monster is a more balanced experience when controlled by another player. In the same way, when changing roles you realize that putting yourself in the shoes of the hunter is not a walk in the park either, since he must relentlessly stalk his prey.

One of the best things about Dead by Daylight is how well this B-movie premise translates into spectator mode. My time as a survivor may have been short, but watching my peers try to survive was just as appealing as those films that have influenced development. In a way, Dead by Deadlight is a thrilling horror movie, even though it’s not technically even a movie. That being the case, I can envision the game becoming a huge hit with the Let’s Players community.

There are many things to see from Dead by Daylight. Behavior keeps secret from the rest of the assassins, although they have explained to us that one of the monsters will have an ability to become invisible. Based on this demo, it is clear that the Naughty Dog developers love the material they are working with, and the reasons Starbreeze (PayDay 2) have decided to release it are obvious. Dead by Daylight meets the standards expected of the Swedish studio and has the potential to become a cult classic upon its release on June 14, priced at just € 19.99.