Saturday, October 28, 2017

Dead By Daylight Takes On Freddy Krueger

If you are a fan of horror and horror video games, you are no stranger to Dead by Daylight! Last year around this time, we were treated to the arrival of Michael Myers and his final girl, Laurie Strode, complete with a hellish half-acre of Haddonfield. Some weeks back, Leatherface joined the hunt. Now the Springwood Slasher shreds that delicate boundary between dreams and waking, turning an already horrific game into the stuff of nightmares.

For the uninitiated, here's how Dead by Daylight works. There are four survivors and one killer, all piloted by real people online. It's the killer's job to hunt the four players, strike them down in a bloody fashion, scoop them up and toss them on a hook, awaiting the loving embrace of a giant spider-god in the sky. It's the survivor's job survive! ..and collect points doing anything you can to thwart the evil pursuing you. You fix a number of generators that power a large door that takes waaaaay too long to open..and very loudly, attracting unwanted attention...and through that door is your freedom. The survivors offer a fantastic array of unique personalities with seemingly endless aesthetic options while the killers sing lullabies, rev chainsaws, throw electricity, and generally do their best to freak you out. FAMILY FUN!!

The additions made to gameplay specific to the mythology of the Nightmare on Elm Street films are fairly brilliant.

First and foremost, for some odd reason, the licensor insisted the game developers use the re-booted Freddy Krueger look. While this absolutely doesn't effect the core character in game, or even read very much while playing, as your views of the killer are fleeting, it sure would have been more fun to have the classic Freddy stalking us with crazed eyes and a manic smile smeared across his face! Small gripe, yes, but one I'm sure is felt universally. (Also, a "fun" Freddy could have brought a totally new spin to the game with taunting and tricks and such.) Still, it's nothing the game developers had any control over.

As Freddy, your goal is the same as any other killer in Dead by Daylight, but there are RULES in this horror movie! Being a dream demon or whatever the hell Freddy is, you can't touch kids in the waking world, so after you've tracked down your prey, you've got to put them to sleep. Until your intended victim is asleep, they can't see you, which leads to all sorts of hilarity. You see, to signal a player that Freddy is near, his adorable theme song sung by happy children will play. The comedy comes from the survivor who usually starts juking away to avoid being put to sleep... which looks like they are having a fit and generally spinning around in a small space before they run off screaming into the night. Those put to sleep will them have a sort of glowing white outline around them. Now you can lay hands on your victims, strike them down and hook them up.

Again, as survivors in Dead by Daylight, your goals are the same...start up those generators, open the door and get the hell out of there while racking up points. With an invisible killer on the loose, it makes things just a bit trickier. The fact that most Freddy players seem unusually fast may also complicate things.

It's nearly impossible to avoid being put to sleep when you can't see the thing attacking you, but thankfully, the game gives you multiple ways out. The simplest is having another player wake you up with a series of snaps and claps. Of course, you first need another player to lend a hand, and for that, they need to give a damn. If another player is not nearby, failing skill checks is an easy solution. While self bandaging, failing a skill check causes pain, waking you up immediately. While fixing a generator, failing a check will cause the machine to backfire, and from what I've witnessed, could wake up more than one player standing close enough. The devs also said something about avoiding Freddy's reach while still awake by hiding in a closet (technically, he can't touch you until you are asleep), but I've yet to see that put into practice.

Of course there's also comedy to be had when fighting to keep your team awake. In one instance, a player was downed and another (still awake player) ran over to help. Since you can't see Freddy until you are asleep, the player being carted off will be lifted by an unseen force. In another instance (seen below), player 2 actually got to the downed player and woke him up, which didn't seem to stop Freddy from hoisting him over his shoulder for a short trip to the nearest hook. You'll believe a survivor can fly.

While awake, the player's view of the world is a bit more lush ...well... as lush as the landscape of Dead by Daylight can be. The color pallet is clearly more vibrant. When you get pulled into the dream world, the colors go monochrome with a bit of mist around the edges and, as is tradition when falling into a spooky alternate dimension, bits of things floating around in the air for no apparent reason. Are they leaves cursed to fall forever? Are we in Silent Hill with clumps of charred paper floating along like a dirty snowfall? Who knows. It'a creepy and apparently, we love it.

As this DLC has just dropped, we couldn't speak to replay value at the moment. I will say that, like most new killers, Freddy seems pretty damn invincible, and in the right hands, could reduce many a player into a giant pillar of salt. Salt with a frowny face. I will say the killer absolutely needs a new mori, as his only one provided is clunky and anticlimactic. I mean...he's a dream demon. Here's an opportunity to punch up the fun and add some hysterical and unexpected dead scenes!!

For what it's worth, Dead by Daylight continues to deliver, as expected, and remains in top form when a group of lively players looking for fun jump on board. It's only a matter of time before a more main stream audience will take notice and make this a top tier party game!

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