If you’re looking for a game that features hair-raising, high-octane asymmetrical gameplay and some of horror’s most iconic characters all in one place, Dead by Daylight may be exactly what you’re looking for.
Since its release in 2016, Dead by Daylight has continued to remain one of the most popular horror games out there, and six years later in 2022, it showed no signs of slowing down.
Putting the pedal to the metal with a slew of iconic character arrivals in the past year alone, from Ringu’s Sadako to Resident Evil’s Wesker, Ada Wong, and Rebecca Chambers, Dead by Daylight is a melting pot of horror’s most familiar faces (and some unfamiliar ones too). What’s more, it’s an absolute blast to play.
Whether you’re thinking of returning to DbD after an extended break or want to try it out for the very first time, here’s whether Dead by Daylight is worth playing as we head into 2023.
Dead by Daylight key details
- Base Game Price: $19.99 (PC) / $29.99 (Xbox & PlayStation Store) / Included with Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus Extra)
- Developer: Behaviour Interactive
- Release Date: June 14, 2016
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Xbox & Nintendo Switch
Dead by Daylight Forged in Fog trailer
Hair-raising asymmetrical matches
If you’re brand new to Dead by Daylight, hold on to your hat, because you’re in for a wild ride. Each match in DbD — especially when you’re a new player and are unfamiliar with how everything works — is just as intense as the last. For a Survivor, the palpable tension of trying to navigate a match (or trial, as they’re known) is second to none. When I first played DbD back in 2020, those first dozen or so sessions consisted of constant fumbles (I’m definitely not undercounting that by any means) and more hiding in corners than I’d like to admit — but it’s all part of what makes DbD so special.
While tutorials (and custom matches) are useful for familiarizing yourself with the general feel of a match and the different playstyles between Killers and Survivors, they did nothing to quell that initial gut-wrenching sensation of apprehension I had as I stepped into my first session with actual players.
The premise of a trial unfolds like so: One Killer with a first-person camera perspective sets off against four Survivors, all of whom utilize a third-person field of view. During a match, which usually takes anywhere from five to 20 minutes depending on how that round plays out, Survivors need to work together to repair generators. While there are seven scattered throughout a map (the layout of which changes each time you play), only five need to be completed to power the exit gates. Once that’s done, you head to the exit, unlock the door and, ideally, leave.
Simple enough, right? That’s where Killers come in to shake things up. Using the tools available to them, they’ll damage generators to regress any progress made on them, and attack Survivors with their Power (more on that later) and weapon, while catching and placing them on hooks to disrupt the process.
The result is an intense experience that’s never quite the same each time you play, meaning you need to adapt to each unique situation and stay on your toes, regardless of which side you’re on.
Those new to Dead by Daylight will undoubtedly be immersed in the eerie environments and unsettling soundscapes as they attempt to either successfully repair generators as a Survivor and unlock the exit gates to escape or to thwart their attempts as a Killer by hooking and, well, killing them.
As players begin to understand how the game works and the initial fear dissipates, there are plenty of Perks, add-ons, and lore to delve into that keep things interesting and exciting.
Spoilt for choice
While the DbD base game has a much smaller pool of Survivors & Killers to choose from, when combined with all of the game’s subsequent DLCs, there are a total of 64 characters that can be played (as of January 2023). These DLCs include a range of both licensed and original characters, spanning from cult-classic film headliners like Hellraiser’s The Cenobite and Evil Dead’s Ash J. Williams to gaming’s Cheryl Mason and Pyramid Head from Silent Hill.
It’s not just the licensed characters that shine here, either. Behaviour Interactive has a knack for creating interesting characters with macabre designs from all corners of the horror genre (I’m looking at you, The Dredge), with one of the latest Killers being the Knight, who arrived in the recent Forged in Fog Chapter.
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On top of that, each character in Dead by Daylight has its own lore and backstories, fleshing out the realm that they inhabit by detailing just how they got there in the first place. Occasionally, more character lore can be uncovered over time, too, as new Tomes — new content that’s added to the game periodically alongside the battle pass-like Rift — arrive.
From characters like Survivor Meg Thomas, a high school star who gave up her college scholarship to care for her sick mother, or Killer The Hag, who fell during a violent storm and hit her head before being kidnapped and tortured by cannibals, there’s endless content that can be read to deepen your understanding of the realms and those who reside in it.
This lore even extends outside of Dead by Daylight itself in the spin-off visual novel, Hooked On You: A Dead by Daylight Dating Sim, a piece of media that is utterly unhinged yet equally hilarious, painting some of its iconic Killers in a completely different light.
Each character in Dead by Daylight has three personal Perks that are unlocked through gameplay or purchased via a weekly rotational shop, The Shrine of Secrets, which allows you to use the in-game currency of Iridescent Shards to purchase a total of four Perks in a seven-day period.
What’s more, each of these Perks also has three tiers, which are unlocked and upgraded through a character’s individual Bloodweb — a kind of progression map where you can use Bloodpoints that are earned in trials, events, and via Dead by Daylight’s free redeemable codes.
These Perks are crucial to improving your chances of ‘winning’ a trial. As you play, depending upon the certain actions that you complete, you’ll wrack up the aforementioned Bloodpooints which can be spent on any character’s Bloodweb while also leveling up your account, receiving Iridescent Shards and Rift Fragment currencies with each account level gained.
Perks have many different uses, too. Claudette Morel’s Botany Knowledge increases healing speed by a certain percentage depending on its tier while also reducing a Med-Kit’s efficiency, whereas The Cannibal’s Franklin’s Demise causes Survivors to drop items after an attack makes an impact.
Combined with add-ons, items, and offerings, which are additionally unlocked via the Bloodweb, these can all be equipped and saved as one of three loadouts to switch between different playstyles easily.
Adding even more mayhem to the madness, Killers each have their own unique skill, known in DbD as a ‘Power’. This allows them to utilize their unique skill that, unlike Perks, is locked to that particular character. The Knight’s Power, for example, ‘Guardia Compagnia’, gives you the chance to summon guards to patrol, destroy generators, and hunt Survivors.
There are so many different combinations that can be put together to create fun and exciting ‘builds’ with, whether you prefer playing as Survivor, Killer, or both — and while some may go for the tried and true Perks that are known to get results, there is some real fun to be had with the sheer amount on offer here to experiment with.
Dead by Daylight is a thrilling asymmetrical horror experience that will keep new players on their toes while providing more seasoned gamers with constant updates, features to keep gameplay fresh, and interesting Perks to change how you approach a particular match. If you’re looking for a horror game to play either alone or with friends, look no further than DbD in 2023.