The spooky season is finally upon us mandating that we dive in to all the horror genre has to offer. What better way to partake in some scary than an immersive asymmetric survival horror game? Behaviour Interactive kicked things off back in June 2016 with the PC release of Dead by Daylight. (PS4 and Xbox One versions released the following year). Over the summer, Gun Media and Illfonic joined the mix when they released the digital version of Friday the 13th: The Game. With the physical release coming for all platforms this Friday (the 13th), gamers have more options than ever on how they’d like to kill or be killed.
This brings us to the crux of our little dilemma. If you find yourself limited on time, money, or both, which multiplayer murder sim is worth your investment? Let’s break it all down and take a look.
Dead by Daylight got the jump on the asymmetric horror concept by releasing first. The game consists of four survivors going up against one killer. Survivors must work together to repair generators that will power the exit gates and allow them to escape. Killers (obviously) work to prevent that. Their job is to capture survivors and sacrifice them. Each survivor/killer has a unique and completely superfluous backstory. There’s even an attempt at a plot, but it’s pretty irrelevant to the actual game.
Friday the 13th: The Game has the distinction of being among the most successfully crowdfunded projects of all time, raking in over a million dollars combined from both Kickstarter and BackerKit. This licensed adaptation lovingly recreates the look, feel, and time period of the original films. Gameplay features up to seven counselors attempting to escape a player controlled Jason Voorhees. Rather than dabble with story, the game immediately immerses players into all the lore and gore of Crystal Lake.
The Price You Pay
Let’s go ahead and address the most obvious difference between the two. Dead by Daylight has a lower base price at $19.99. Friday the 13th goes for $39.99 online or $60 in-stores. This might seem like an easy victory for DbD, but looks can be deceiving. Both games offer some cosmetic DLC costume packs, but DbD has also released paid content for additional maps, killers, and survivors. Assuming you wanted the complete experience for both games (ie: access to all characters, killers, and clothing) you’d end up paying about $59 for Dead by Daylight. Meanwhile, Friday the 13th as a digital release with the currently available cosmetic DLC caps out at $42 with the promise of an upcoming single-player mode on the horizon.
Location, Location, Location
With the exception of their latest DLC, each DbD Killer comes with their own unique location. Each of these maps has a few variations and random spawns keep players on their toes. Technically this should make for greater map diversity, but the areas are actually pretty small and the outdoor areas all feel interchangeable after a few rounds. There is a pretty sweet hospital map and a recreation of the Meyers neighborhood in Haddonfield with the potential for more in the future though.
Over at F13 the map options are more limited as each one needs to be painstakingly faithful to the movies. At launch there were only 2 locations to choose from (with a new one releasing this week). Despite this, the maps we did get are absolutely massive and offer countless opportunities for mayhem thanks to the game’s specially animated environmental kills. The downside of massive maps is that counselors can just secret themselves away and wait out the match time limit for an easy win.
Assemble Your Team
Okay, let’s start getting into the characters. When DbD launched it had four survivors. Thanks to DLC that number has risen to 10 (2 of which were free). Each survivor has a unique set of ‘Perks’ that they unlock as they gain levels. As perks are unlocked players spend points to allow other survivors to use them as well. It’s not a bad system, but it does make the survivors begin to feel largely interchangeable after a few levels.
Friday the 13th offered 10 counselors right out of the gate, each representing a specific 80’s slasher victim trope. They also tossed in fan favorite, Tommy Jarvis as a bonus character that players could randomly respawn as after their first character either escaped or died. Counselors have both strengths and weakness that determine how well they can complete objectives or escape from Jason. Players spend points to randomly unlock additional skills. They then strategically apply these perks to help offset any character’s particular shortcomings. Your slowest character won’t be able to outrun the track star, but they can start the car a bit faster. Even if they use the same perks, counselors will still play differently so there’s more variety to choose from.
The Thrill of the Kill
This is going to be a divisive category for a lot of readers. People really (really) love the F13 franchise. Enough that when a Kickstarter campaign launched offering them the chance to play as Jason Voorhees they collectively lost their minds. Friday the 13th: The Game totally delivers on this promise offering players 9 or 10 different versions of Jason (depending on if they picked up the pre-order exclusive). Each version of the masked (or bagged) slasher has a unique skill set and costume, but they are all pretty similar. Unless Pamela Voorhees turns up you can expect the next killer to be another (likely) undead iteration of the same guy.
Dead by Daylight has an advantage since it isn’t locked to a particular franchise. The diverse arsenal of killers are all derived from standard slasher villain cinema. Creepy doctor/nurse, backwoods trapper, hatchet wielding recluse. Each with unique skills/attacks that cater to different playstyles. Behaviour has even managed to go directly to the source a few times, landing the rights to add Michael Meyers from Halloween and Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the game. There are even rumors of a possible Freddy Krueger DLC on the horizon which gives DbD a way more diverse roster of killers.
The Most Dangerous(ly fun) Game
This is what it all comes down to in the end. Which game is more fun to actually play? There are a million more ways I could attempt to break this down. Both games offer potentially game breaking bugs and glitches on the regular. DbD’s community is constantly at war with itself trying to find a balance between survivors and killers. F13 has in-game voice chat which tends to bring the most obnoxious people in creation right into your headphones. Suffice to say, this wasn’t an easy call to make.
There are certain aspects unique to each game that really work well for it. Dead by Daylight lets players choose when they will play as a survivor or killer. This means you have a community of people who are insanely good at one or the other. They may occasionally bicker, but this symbiotic relationship makes for a close-knit community. This is crucial since in-order for survivors to make it out alive they need to help each other.
In Friday the 13th the role of Jason is typically assigned at the beginning of each match. This means at the start of the match you never know if you’ll be running for your life or slaughtering everyone. Combined with all the possible (though limited) ways of escaping players learn quickly not to put too much faith in their fellow counselors. You don’t want to be the third person to show up to flee in the two person car.
That potential for backstabbing and drama actually does make for some compelling gameplay though. While success in Dead by Daylight is largely based on luck and sticking to the strategy, F13 offers players more possibilities. You could spend the whole match repairing the boat and have a teammate leave you stranded as Jason is closing in. Maybe the police have finally arrived and you just need to cross the camp and make it to the exit. Hell, maybe you made it into one of the getaway cars, but then the driver crashes into a tree dooming you all. There’s just so much more variety and “OMG” moments in F13.
For all its extra maps and killers, Dead by Daylight ultimately becomes an objective grind. Meanwhile, Friday the 13th manages to capture the fun of fighting to survive in a horror movie. Even with limited locations, there is so much more do to and see in Friday the 13th. It’s worth the purchase.