I had been following this game during its initial PC run for the last year by watching popular streamers on both Twitch and Youtube. It was a game that grabbed my interest to a degree by continuing the 4 Vs 1 concept first introduced by the game EVOLVE. With a more horror theme, Dead by Daylight has an interesting premise and after a year run on PC, it has finally been brought to consoles. Sadly however, the version of this game that came to Xbox One is far more horrific than the killers it features.
Dead by Daylight pits four human players as survivors against one human player as the killer. Survivors must work together in order to repair five generators to activate two exit gates that will allow them to leave the map successfully. The killer is tasked with basically stopping the survivors by damaging them before placing downed survivors on a hook to sacrifice it to the Great Entity. The match ends when all remaining survivors escape or when the killer has taken out all the survivors.
This is an online only game, there are no offline modes or AI bots present so it’s completely online only. Now giving that this has been released at £24.99, it is probably a fair reflection of that simplicity in game modes but for me, it is just a distraction from what turned out to be one of the worst PC game ports to console I have played in recent years. To say I was disappointed in this finished title is an understatement especially when it has received a full blown retail release unlike other titles that can spend up to a year at least in the Xbox One preview program before being declared ‘fully released’.
Kicking things off, this game has zero tutorials or in game guides to help newcomers to Dead by Daylight. None save only the text description of items and characters, this game will do nothing but throw you into the deep end and wish you luck. There is a strong sense that this game has an expectation that players will either have played it before on PC, or know enough about it to pick it up and run with it. Sadly that really is not the case most of the time, and the sheer lack of anything to educate you into how this game works is both annoying and frustrating.
So how does it actually work? Well if you are playing as a survivor, the game has a third person view and you will be working with three other players in order to repair five generators dotted all over the map in order to power two main exit gates which allow an escape from the map. Repairing generators is a slow process, each one having a mini game designed to keep a survivor working on it until either the repair is complete or interrupted by the threat or sudden appearance of the killer. In a demonic game of survival horror hide and seek, the survivors must use the environment of the map to stay alive, either by hiding behind rocks or trees, tall grass or crops, or just keeping to the shadows and being as stealthy as possible to avoid detection by the killer. Mess up a generator repair and the killer will be alerted to your location.
Teamwork is key as survivors; working together to repair a generator will speed up repairs. Survivors can also heal each other if they are carrying a med kit which can be vital as a single hit from a killer will leave a survivor wounded, a second hit will place them in a downed state allowing the killer to pick them up and place them on a sacrificial hook. In this instance another survivor can unhook the victim and a chance of escape. If a team of survivors can work together it will make it incredible difficult for the killer but try and go alone and you may find the killer making you a tasty meal for the Giant Entity is quick fashion.
The killer is played with a first person view with the one task of finding and sacrificing the four survivors to the Giant Entity. Each of the six available killers has their own special ability. The Wraith uses a demonic bell that once rung will render them invisible, allowing it to move around the map unseen but also unable to strike or interact with the physical world until it becomes uncloaked. The Hillbilly has a chainsaw, The Trapper is able to place bear traps around the map to catch survivors whilst the Nurse can teleport or blink allowing her to quickly catch up or overtake and move quickly around the map. Now each of these powers come with a negative side effect such as the warning the sounding of the Wraith’s bell when cloaking or uncloaking to serve as a warning to survivors and the Blink ability of the Nurse will leave her staggered after use giving survivors a chance to move away. Finding the right killer that suits your playing style really is key here, but with the game offering now tutorial or guide into how each works, trial and error will be needed.
So the idea sounds pretty simple right, 4 vs 1 with survivors winning by escaping and the killer winning by stopping them. Sadly this gameplay style is not the reason why this game is so terrible; it is just about everything else. I will begin with the obvious issue of the visuals which are criminal in their last gen level quality. Honestly this is one ugly game to have on a current gen console considering how good it can look on PC and after being out there for a full year. Now offering a little forgiveness due to the fact it is just a small indie developer team behind this game does not give them a pass into how awful this game looks. You then have the shoddy conversion of the controls from a mouse and keyboard to controller which feels as god awful as the game looks. There is no way to adjust sensitivity either so if playing as the killer, having the camera on the right stick to guide the direction in which you are going and looking being so loose that you can sharply turn and miss a survivor right in front of you making it feel so imprecise and clumsy at times when you need it to respond just as you want it to. Striking distance for the killer is also shocking, each using a long swinging weapon but will only register a hit if you are straight on and within a few inches of the survivor leading to misses and moments of player rage.
Throw in frame-rate issues and animation bugs, and what you have is a poorly tested low quality PC port to console that is shocking to be put out as a fully ready for retail release title. These issues for me all lead to my experience feeling like just about everything was geared to give the survivors as much of an advantage as possible. The poor visuals allow survivors to hide easier and it is hard to spot them in the misty fog and environment at times. Throw in maps that are completely designed to give them the edge such as the Theatre Treatment map which is pretty much the inside of an old hospital filled with rooms to hide in and escape routes around every single corner, and you have a recipe that instantly puts the killer on the back foot. It just feels so unbalanced right now in favour of survivors that it never feels like a fair fight, not that 4 vs 1 is but there has to be something to make the survivors actually work as hard to win as the killer must do instead of relying on the map to do it all for them.
I simply cannot recommend Dead by Daylight right now in its current form. It has way too many issues that stand out and serve as a detriment to the experience to advise people to give it a chance. It feels frustrating to play as killer most of the time and too easy as survivor if you have others who know how to work as a team. Playing with friends could make this better in private matches but you just cannot ignore how abhorrent this game looks right now, and this is from someone who is a firm believer in gameplay over visuals but when the rubbish quality visuals impact on the gameplay it is just not good enough.
I will be interested to see if future updates to this game improve it at all and I do believe it has potential because when it all works it is a very satisfying experience. But sadly more times than not, it all falls apart leaving a complete mess. In just the week or so since it released on Xbox One, it already has a toxic community. I received so many messages from survivor players that either mocked me for not catching them or threw abuse my way because I did catch them. You even have survivors who wont end the match once the main exits are activated, simply hanging around the gate area tea-bagging the ground until the killer reaches them before exiting. It all adds up to one of the worst experiences of a game in 2017.
This belongs in the preview program, too much is wrong with it to let it be a full retail release, even the low £24.99 is too much for this. It all feels like a cash grab, a low effort PC port to console to get sales based on its PC reputation but only ends up being a lacklustre experience that will leave you wondering how this got the thumbs up. I hope it can be improved with updates, especially with the visuals but right now the most scary thing about Dead by Daylight is the fact it came to console in the state it is in.