Welcome to Best of Xbox Game Pass where each week I’m going to pick out a game available on Game Pass and explain why I think it is worth playing. While I’ll certainly include some of the bigger titles available on the service, I’ll focus more on other games that you might have overlooked in the hope of leading you to a hidden gem
If you enjoy the thrills and bloody spills of a good horror flick then at some point you’ve probably devoted a bit of time to dreaming up the ultimate crossover that pits all the coolest horror icons against each other. Well, Dead by Daylight isn’t quite that because you can’t make Michel Myers fight Freddy or have Ghostface go up against Pig from the Saw franchise. But what Dead by Daylight is, is the closest thing to a super horror crossover we have, and a damn fun multiplayer experience if you can forgive its rough edges. Maybe you can’t have the ultimate horror brawl, but you can definitely find out which killer can pile up the corpses.
Here’s the deal; something referred to as the Entity is plucking people up and dropping them into its realm along with a wealth of horror-movie villains and horror-movie inspired villains. One team of four players needs to sneak around and repair generators to escape the map, while a fifth player gets to step into the blood-soaked boots of a killer and hunt them down before they can do that.
It’s like a game of cat and mouse, except the cat has a chainsaw or is throwing hatchets at the mouse or leaving bear-traps everywhere. Think Tom & Jerry, except probably less violent.
Playing as a survivor means trying to sneak around and keeping a careful eye out for the killer as they stomp around. The opening minutes of each match is a fun sequence of getting your bearings, spotting some generators and trying to figure out what killer you’re up against. As you repair generators you have to perform skill checks, otherwise, the generator will backfire, losing you progress but also giving the killer handy directions toward your soon-to-be corpse. You aren’t completely defenceless since you can drop convenient pallets on a killer as they chase you or hide in cupboards or, if you get really into the game, pull off ludicrous movement tricks. Plus, there’s a wealth of perks to unlock and choose from that can help in loads of different ways.
As for the killer, well, they play in first-person and with the knowledge that veteran survivors exist solely to make their life miserable. The bummer is the Game Pass version of Dead by Daylight is the core game, and a lot of the awesome killers, including the actual licensed ones, are included in the extensive list of DLC available for the game. Still, you get some decent killers to play around with, such as the Wraith whose bell lets him turn invisible or the Trapper who loves to leave bear-traps all over the place like a child that won’t clean up its damn room. There’s even a chainsaw-wielding maniac if you fancy a little Texas Chainsaw Massacre action.
If you do feel like getting some of the DLC, there’s plenty of different packs to choose from that add new survivors, killers and maps. And a lot of the killers have awesome powers. Take Michael Myers as an example; he has a Stalk button that lets him stare at survivors, building up a gauge before he goes on a murderous rampage. That means chunks of the match involve Myers edging out from behind walls to creepily stare at players, and that also means plenty of jump scares as you scan the environment and notice Myers eyeing you up like a steak.
If you manage to smack a survivor with a weapon they go into a wounded state and smacking them again knocks ’em to the floor where they can pitifully crawl around like the sad sacks of flesh that they are. From there you can hoist them up, carry them over to a hook and impale them, where they’ll hang around to be either rescued or consumed by the Entity. Should you go hunt down more survivors or hang around the one you’ve hooked? Well, according to the cesspool that is the Dead by Daylight community, whatever you choose to do is incorrect and makes you the worst player ever.
Yep, the worst part of the game are the dickheads who play it. I’ve sunk over a hundred hours into the PC version of the game, and let me tell you the Steam forums were a constant battleground with people screaming at each other about killers being too powerful, survivors being too powerful, pallette looping and more. To be fair, a lot of criticisms are rooted in truth: Dead by Daylight is a rough game with a lot of frustrating design choices. It was made by a small team who have struggled over the years to keep everything balanced while adding more content and dealing with a level of popularity I don’t think they ever considered likely.
The good news? Ignore the community, accept it’s unbalanced and scruffy and go in with the right attitude and Dead by Daylight is an absolute blast. It has given me loads of memorable moments, from running around in a circle while Michael Myers tries to stab me to leaping into a cupboard just as Ghostface aims a knife at my ribs and then leaping back out and running off. As both killer and survivor, I’ve encountered tension, hilarity and even moments of honour as I’ve allowed certain survivors to escape or had fellow survivors give their lives so that the others might live.
So give this one a go if you fancy some asymetrical multiplayer fun with a horror vibe.