Good Fun with Friends
Written by Agen_TerminatorLet me preface this review in that I have mostly played with a group of friends, in private games, and occasionally as a full group of survivors and an unknown killer. This means I'm probably unqualified to comment on the general ecosystem if you're playing by yourself, and so I've never felt the brunt of lobby problems, hackers, and so on. However, I feel I can freely comment on it in terms of gameplay.
In the most simplistic terms, Dead by Daylight is an asymmetrical horror game in which a group of four survivors attempt to escape a killer hunting them through cornfields, graveyards, etc. by repairing generators required to provide the power to open the gates to exit the map.
This is engaging, at least in short bursts. It's necessary to balance keeping a low profile to avoid the killer and repairing the generators so as to enable your escape, which is the only path to victory. The killer generally doesn't immediately kill someone when they're caught; they're usually hung up on butcher hooks which are scattered throughout the map. This provides the survivors the option of attempting to rescue their friend, so they can get the generators going quicker, but at the risk the killer is still lurking nearby, waiting for the victim to die on the hook. The corollary is that the killer has to consider that guarding the victim while all the other survivors have free reign to repair the generators isn't optimal.
Overall, the atmosphere is enjoyable, and both roles are enjoyable and exciting. You feel generally pretty vulnerable playing as a survivor, and powerful as a killer, and so there are tons of gratifying moments where you beat the odds, or when you finally swat that annoying survivor. The most common risks for survivors come from messing up repairing a generator (an actual good use of quick time events) and attempting to save their team mates. The survivors have a third person point of view, providing them with a larger field of vision in comparison to the first-person killer. This allows the survivors to see the killer hunting nearby by allowing the camera to see over the wall and the like, and generally makes the game more tense. It's also not uncommon to outflank the killer by taking a sharp turn that won't be noticed in his narrow field of vision.
There are a lot of intricacies in the game's UI, much of which I don't understand having not played a ton, and due to the fact that you can't progress through private games. You can unlock perks as you play, making you a more efficient killer or survivor, and there are also a bunch of temporary perks you get but lose when you die, and so on. I haven't played enough to really comment, but I do have a concern that it can unbalance the game -- my group has been on the receiving end of some slaughter-fests from seemingly omnipotent killers.
The graphics aren't great, especially not when taking into account the requirements to run it smoothly, but they're more than serviceable. However, the sound work does shine and can be utilised strategically in-game.
Also, beware -- there are numerous bugs. It's fair to say the game lacks polish. Very soon after release I was a killer who could take down the survivors, but was then unable to pick them up to take them to the meat-hooks, meaning I was basically an impotent joke who could only stun the other players but posed no real threat. Of course, this lead to much mocking, which was somewhat aggravating. The bugs are slowly but surely being ironed out with the frequent updates coming from Behaviour Interactive though.
Overall, I've found the game enjoyable. For the price - £15 / $20, it's really hard to complain.