Hunting is in our bones. Long before Prime Day and Doordash, humans tried to catch food during the day, and avoid becoming food at night. We evolved our keen powers of observation, adrenaline-fueled reflexes, and impressive stealth stats in the pursuit of nosh-or-be-noshed. A few dozen millenia later and those hunter’s instincts are still with us. But where are they useful? Video games!
Dead By Daylight from Behaviour Interactive taps into our hunter vs hunted DNA through a 4v1 asymmetrical survival horror game featuring some of our most memorable monsters. Think you could survive the Scream movies? How about Halloween? Or maybe you identify with the Demogorgon from Stranger Things and want to maim those meddling kids? A huge roster of killers and survivors awaits.
Dead by Daylight excels at manufacturing tension in balanced environments. The core gameplay involves you either stalking and killing the survivors or outwitting the killer to escape each Killing Ground. And lest you think practice makes perfect, each map utilizes procedurally generated elements so nothing ever plays out exactly the same way twice.
Killers have their own unique abilities but largely fall into either the silent stalker or rampaging psychopath categories. There are 32 different Killers to choose from, in addition to the famous (and sometimes unlicensed knockoff) ones, there are a number of stock archetypes that tend to be favored by longtime players. Whatever the skills, the goal is for each Killer to capture players, sling them over their shoulders, and hang them on a meathook. Gruesome, but simple.
Survivors are similarly balanced. There are 38 different characters to choose from, including famous video game survivors like Resident Evil heroine Jill Valentine and actual, real-world Nicolas Cage (releasing July 25.) There are also plenty of options to choose from, and a wide range of abilities lets you pick your playstyle or build teams with complementary skills. In addition to the general goal of not getting meathooked, players need to activate a number of generators in each Killing Ground to trigger the escape.
The fun and strategy emerges through all these small details coming together within a set of well-designed gameplay rules. Killers can only see in first-person, and Survivors must use third-person. Killers can’t vault over certain objects, like wooden pallets, but have a faster default speed than Survivors so they can overtake them in open ground. Killers can get buffs from strange totems scattered across each map, but these can be deactivated by crafty players. On and on it goes.
Skill-based online matchmaking does a decent job of keeping things fair if you’re pairing up with randos. Obviously getting a whole crew of friends together can be a lot more fun, but that’s easier said than done, although robust crossplay support certainly helps. Regardless of who you play with, this is a fast, low-commitment title capable of entertaining you for a few hours — or becoming your new obsession.