In spite of its horror theme, Dead By Daylight is not a scary game, and it never needed to be. That hasn’t been to the game’s detriment, however, as it’s one of the most popular horror-themed games on the market at the moment, with a wide player base and a hefty amount of content.
Dead by Daylight has a lot of horror elements that one would think would combine into a scary experience. It features a wide collection of killers, many of whom have fearsome and unsettling designs and powers. Playing as a survivor in Dead by Daylight requires the players to attempt to escape before the killer can kill them all, much like a playable horror movie. The presence of horror icons ranging from Silent Hill to Saw only strengthens the case for Dead by Daylight‘s horror credentials. While all of that combined sounds intimidating, Dead By Daylight uses horror as a theme rather than a genre.
Dead By Daylight Is More Strategic Than Frightening
Dead by Daylight does do a good job of creating maps that build a sense of tension and foreboding, and survivor players will also want to finish the generators as quickly as possible in order to escape the killer. Some killers even have powers that make players even more determined to avoid them at all costs. For instance, The Plague in Dead by Daylight can infect survivors to make them permanently injured, and The Clown’s poison bottles can slow the survivor to practically guarantee a hit. Even taking this into account, aside from some jump scares and a few terrifying finishing Mori’s, the game doesn’t do much to invoke fear.
The Sillier Aspects Of Dead By Daylight Keep It Out Of The Horror Genre
The main emotion that Dead by Daylight runs on is not fear, but tension. Each side of the game is effectively operating on a timer. The survivors need to repair five generators in order to escape, and each death reduces their chances of doing so before the killer slays them all. Likewise, the killer’s chance of winning goes down every time a generator is repaired, especially if they can’t secure any kills early. Failing in either direction makes the road to achieving prestige characters in Dead by Daylight more arduous and time-consuming. Rather than focus on scaring players, Dead by Daylight emphasizes strategy for both sides, with clever opponents being a bigger threat than any in-game scares.
The horror elements of Dead by Daylight are also dampened by the fanbase as well as the game itself. The recent Bone Chill event, where survivors and killers alike could jump into snowmen and high-five each other is decidedly non-serious, and was embraced by many fans. There is also Ghostface’s Mori, where he takes a selfie that is frequently photobombed by other survivor players, and that’s before mentioning his infamous Wassup mask. Finally, the existence of DbD‘s dating sim spinoff Hooked on You does a lot to defuse any semblance of fear evoked by the killers involved.
Asymmetrical horror games are a genre that has been attempted a fair amount of times, but none have gained a foothold the same way Dead by Daylight has. Despite its themes and licenses, calling it a horror game would not feel accurate. Dead by Daylight isn’t scary, but it is certainly a fun and challenging experience.