DEAD BY DAYLIGHT: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is a solid, spooky addition to a flawed game, plagued with poor balance and a lack of variety.
Developer: Behavior Interactive
Publisher: Starbreeze Studios
Format: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC (reviewed)
Released: 10/26/17, (base game released 6/14/16 )
MSRP: $26.98 USD (19.99 for base game, 6.99 for DLC)
Copy: Free review copy
I wasn’t planning on playing DEAD BY DAYLIGHT anytime soon. Not only is it a bit “out of season” to talk about a horror game after Thanksgiving, but it released last year to lukewarm reviews. Suffice to say, it wasn’t quite on my radar. So imagine my surprise when a review kit appeared in my inbox, along with the new NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET DLC.
Regardless of the timing, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this game. Sure, it’s full of issues, but the gameplay and atmosphere lead to some unique, thrilling experiences.
So, is DEAD BY DAYLIGHT: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET worth your time and money? Well, let’s take a look!
DEAD BY DAYLIGHT: Hide-And-Seek To The Death
Before we talk about A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, it’s worth talking about the base game.
The premise is pretty simple: players take the role of a small group of survivors, each representing a different horror movie cliche. Meanwhile, a single player takes the role of a killer and is tasked with hunting down the survivors. The survivors are trying to start up several generators placed across the map, to enable their escape. The killer’s goal is to sacrifice the survivors to an ancient monster.
The most exciting aspect of this game is how it delivers upon its basic premise. This is a multiplayer horror game, and while they don’t mesh perfectly, these genres work together better than you might think.
The dynamic nature of the game, with real, human players behind each monster, adds a layer of dynamic fear to the experience. No session will be exactly the same. No monster will be entirely predictable. This leads to some exciting moments, especially when you’re starting off. But the competitive, multiplayer elements are also the game’s greatest weakness. Once you figure out some basic strategies, DEAD BY DAYLIGHT begins to feel a lot less scary, and a lot less unique.
The mechanics do their best to maintain the fear, however. Survivors must listen closely to every sound, and look out for any visual cue the killer may leave behind. This is how you prime someone for a good scare. It’s the horror elements that set this game apart from its peers, but that atmosphere diminishes under the weight of competitive play.
Balance Is a Major Issue
While playing the game, I spent most of my time trying to analyze the balance. When the game first launched, the balance between the survivors and the monsters was widely criticized. I was curious to see if these issues were still present, or if the game had improved since its initial release.
Unfortunately, the former seems to be the case.
At its core, DEAD BY DAYLIGHT is a game of hide-and-seek tag. But unlike the traditional childhood game, the seeker is also trying to stop the hiders from completing objectives. The sheer nature of the game, coupled with the asymmetrical teams, puts most of the power in the survivors’ hands. As a result, the developers need to take special care to ensure the monster can take on a coordinated team scattered across a relatively large map.
This is where the competitive aspect of the game breaks down. Rather than empowering the monster, some of their powers feel downright nerfed to give the survivors the upper hand. One monster, for example, can teleport over large distances but becomes exhausted after doing so, reducing her speed. It’s a bit ironic how disadvantaged the monster truly is, considering the material on which this game is based.
Ultimately, if you plan on taking this game seriously, you’re not going to have a good time. There’s just not enough here to satisfy hardcore, competitive players, and the game has remained unbalanced for far too long. DEAD BY DAYLIGHT is best enjoyed after a horror movie night, with a few friends and a few beers.
Freddy Krueger Is A Fun, Creative Addition To The Game
But let’s get down to the meat of this A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET DLC: Freddy Krueger, or as he’s known in the game, “The Nightmare.”
Krueger features a game-changing mechanic that’s both his greatest strength and weakness. Like the movies, Freddy can only exist within your dreams. As such, the monster has no ability to attack survivors under normal circumstances. He’s also completely invisible.
When playing The Nightmare, your goal is to “pull” survivors into the dream world, a process which takes a few seconds and also alerts the survivor to your presence. Once they’re in the dream world, the monster can attack them, and even see them through walls. In short, playing Krueger essentially makes you an invisible terror. His powers are the perfect double-edged sword. The survivors rarely know where you are, but at any moment you can pull them into your clutches.
While playing Krueger, it’s hard not to be enthralled by DEAD BY DAYLIGHT’S gameplay. At the best of times, you truly feel like a movie monster, stalking your prey and sacrificing them to an eldritch horror. As a survivor, it’s surprisingly easy to fall into a state of paranoia, wondering if Freddy is standing right in front of you, invisible. The game is at its best when you can embrace these atmospheric moments.
The DLC also adds a new map, Springwood, and a new Survivor, Quentin. However, these features take a backseat to The Nightmare himself. Despite my problems with the base game, this DLC is creative, unique, and thoroughly enjoyable. That being said, it can get a bit repetitive.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Can Get A Bit Stale
There’s only one game-mode in DEAD BY DAYLIGHT, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET fails to add any more. No matter which map you’re on, your goal as a survivor is to restart several generators and escape the map. As a monster, your goal is to carry survivors to meat hooks and sacrifice them to some sort of elder god. The dynamic nature of the multiplayer keeps things relatively fresh, but it can only take you so far.
There needs to be some additional gameplay to break up the monotony. Maybe the survivors need to start up a car and escape? Or turn the power back on in a house so they can call the police? This game offers so many opportunities for fun, spooky horror scenarios, and I wish they’d embrace these ideas.
Sure, this could complicate the competitive aspect of the game, but that ship already sailed with the poor balancing. DEAD BY DAYLIGHT is essentially a party game. Both players and developers should treat it as such.
If you’re a big fan of DEAD BY DAYLIGHT, then this Krueger DLC is a must-have. If you’re a newcomer, it depends on how seriously you plan on taking the game.
DEAD BY DAYLIGHT is an enjoyable multiplayer horror game. With a few friends and a couple of beers, it can be an absolute blast. However, the inherent balancing issues make it hard to recommend at full price. If you can get the game and its DLC on sale, then it’ll be worth the money. Otherwise, you may want to pass on this until Halloween comes rolling around again.