There’s no better thrill than the sense of invincibility. Imagine you were that undefeatable being in a slasher film, sauntering about after 4 unlucky souls. Their destiny is to be served up into the sky to some insatiable evil and you are the conduit of that sacrifice. Hammering heartbeats and the heavy breathing of the wounded fill the chilled air as every little sound and bit of movement becomes your radar. This is the atmosphere of the sensation that is Dead By Daylight!

Here’s the rundown of how the game is played. Four survivors must repair 4 engines that power spotlights. Once they do this, a random escape hatch appears (that they must find a key for) as well as two large doors that are opened by pulling a switch. Everything they do makes noise and attracts the killer who is trying to prevent them from escaping. The killers must track and strike the survivors and rather than outright killing them must place them on sacrificial hooks located throughout each map. Once there, they either bleed out or another survivor rescues them. If the survivor is placed on a sacrificial hook 3 times, they automatically die.

Multiplayer only games like this are a hard sell. The anxiety of performing well and defeating the other opponents can be a bit too much for some. Throw in the concept of this not being an ‘Oooo! I got an easy kill’ and you have a game that requires you to like the theme, ‘horror slasher’, just  as much as the concept, ‘1 versus 4’.

Dead By Daylight manages to sidestep that potential negative with originality in their gameplay. As one of the survivors, you not only can find items on the map (flashlights, med kits, toolbox, and map ) to help you both locate things and stun the killer, but you also have unique skills and abilities depending on which survivor you pick. Some skills require you to hover near the killer undetected. Some skills only kick in once you are injured or while healing someone. Regardless, most of the skills involved require you to not only survive, but to help others survive as well. This adds a sense of strategy to every mission.

Further adding to the strategy are the different kinds of killers available. Some are brutes with the strength that can put survivors into a Dying State with one strike (typically takes two strikes). Others set traps or make the ‘hunting’ or detection phase of the game a bit easier. Regardless, each of them strike, hunt, and move differently which requires both killer and survivor to approach the match differently. Whether high ranked or not, a killer can still managed to take down all survivors if they don’t dodge and work together well.

Quick warning. As the killer, while you are invincible, that doesn’t mean that the survivors are powerless. They gain experience for being bold (or running circles around the killer and facing them) as well as repairing both friends and machinery. As the two factions gain experience, survivors gain skills and gear that help them to perform actions quicker and avoid certain affects that each of the slayers can inflict. Slashers in turn can gain access to hex totems (found as skull bundles with candles underneath) that can do things like affect survivor cleansing or repair speeds, make each strike a ‘near death’ blow, or even make it so that the slasher can kill their prey without having to use sacrifice hooks to do the job!

All of that said and there is probably one thing missing from this game…gore. The biggest part of most slasher films is watching the horrific way in which survivors die. In games like Friday the 13th, you see many different wicked ways survivors are killed in a Mortal Kombat styled death. Dead by Daylight kind of takes the PG-13 route as there is no dismemberment or decapitation. Instead, the ‘offering a sacrifice’ (much akin to the Cabin In The Woods movie), takes the stage as the hooks often times do the trick. Even with all of the different killers, the mode of death is typically the same by bleeding out on a hook. In a way, this kind of steals a bit of the joy out of being the killer as you are relying on time to kill your prey mostly. There are perks related to the hex totems that can allow you to make the kill but it isn’t something gloriously gory.

Speaking of gory, this game also only hits mediocre on the graphical and animation scale as well. With running and action sequences that seem to float a bit rather than have smooth animation throughout, strikes, ambushes, vaults, and so on turn this horror movie into a PG-13 slasher film. While the visuals don’t really gross you out that much, the environmental detail, soundtrack, and sound effects do a modest job of setting the mood.

The game of cat and mouse in Dead By Daylight brilliantly changes with every round as random survivors of different skill and rank are forced to help their less experienced survivors. Experienced slashers add the difficulty of additional totem powers and skills that cancel out some of the detection or skill checks that survivors have to make. Bundle all that randomness with a healthy mix of slashers (each with their own mode of movement and ambush) and you have a solid 15 minutes of adrenaline that is a ton of fun!