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Dead by Daylight Review

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Review of: Dead by Daylight
Board Game Review by::
Spencer Harstead
Price:
$49

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On Jan 18, 2024
Last modified:Jan 19, 2024

Summary:

We review Dead by Daylight, a 1 vs Many board game published by Level 99 Games. Dead by Daylight is a tabletop game based on the popular video game of the same name.

Dead by DaylightLet’s check out the abandoned auto lot. Definitely no supernatural murders there. And even if there is one, I’m sure the exit door is operating just fine.

It’s fine.

Dead by Daylight is a 1 vs. many deduction and survival game for three to five players. It plays best with five.

Gameplay Overview:

In Dead by Daylight, one player will play as a supernatural killer, while all other players act cooperatively as a team of survivors. The goal is for the survivors to repair 4 generators and power an exit door before the killer fills their Sacrifice Progress Track.

Dead by Daylight Movement Cards
Movement cards are programmed face down at the beginning of the round.

The gameplay is pretty simple. Each round, every survivor plays one movement card face down, while the killer plays two. Then, the survivors will take their turns, moving if they played a card that matches a path connected to their current sector. After moving, a survivor must flip over a token in the new room they enter. Then, they may complete a token interaction or other available action, such as healing a fellow survivor.

All token actions are explained on the handy reference sheets included on the back of all character boards. The survivors can interact with all token types. Generators and exit doors can be interacted with to be repaired by rolling dice. This is how survivors win. Crow tokens can be interacted with to gain a survivor bonus turn. This allows another movement card from the player’s hand and take a second action. Locker tokens can be used to hide in, while chests contain items.

The killer can also interact with these tokens. They can sabotage a generator that’s being worked on, remove a crow token, pull a survivor out of the locker, or receive blood points from a totem.

Dead by Daylight Hero
Every survivor starts with three perks and can carry one item during the game.

The killer can also wound a survivor they share a space with. Once wounded, a survivor can be sacrificed if there is a hook in their space. This gives the killer a sacrifice progress token once for the first time they sacrifice a specific survivor and again for every round that passes where that survivor remains on the hook.

Perks, items, and special abilities can be used throughout the game to help players with their goals and allow for some cool combos. Some perk abilities cost blood points, which are a limited resource in the game.

Dead by Daylight Gameplay
Interacting with tokens will advance the survivors win condition and provide additional benefits.

Game Experience:

Dead by Daylight went with a simplified and abstracted game system that increases approachability. You can tell from the bland and color-coded game boards, that ease of use was their priority. I’m totally fine with that decision as it made the game easy to learn, teach, and jump right into. The only exception is the lengthy process involved with picking up and sacrificing a survivor by carrying them to another room. The half page of rules dedicated to that single action just didn’t fit in with the rest of the streamlined mechanisms.

Dead by Daylight Cards
Perk cards provide powerful special abilities and often cost blood points.

With the game mechanisms being simple, the meat of the game comes from the special abilities, perks, and item cards. All killers have special abilities that are unique and fun. Additionally, both killers and survivors get 3 perks each. Once they’re comfortable with the game, players can draft these perks at the start of the game to build their perfect character. This adds a nice bit of replay value. While I’m curious about all that comes in the deluxe version, I’m pretty happy with how much variety can be had in the base game.

Where you’re going as a survivor is often dependent on what tokens are available. Early to mid-game, there a plenty of options for where the survivors may be going. As the game progresses and most tokens are revealed, the killer can often guess where the survivors are headed and use that to their advantage. This ramps up the tension a good bit. The last few rounds are action packed with survivors getting sacrificed more commonly.

Dead by Daylight Bad Guy
Killers and survivors vary from easy to hard difficulty.

One glaring issue with this game is it’s inflexible player account. Sure, you can play with less than 5, but that means a player or players need to control an extra survivor. That’s more perks and items to keep track of as well as an extra piece on the board to control. The charming simplicity of the game is hindered greatly by this. Additionally, the player(s) controlling multiple survivors must share the same four movement cards between the two survivors. This gives a pretty strong advantage to the killer, and I haven’t seen a way to mitigate that.

Another problem I have is that when a survivor is sacrificed, they lose their turn until they are saved. Sometimes, it isn’t possible for another survivor to get to them for a turn or two, meaning the sacrificed survivor is just sitting there for multiple rounds. Especially near the end, If the survivors are close to repairing the last generator or exit door, it may be advantageous to focus on that instead of freeing the other survivor. Of course, leaving someone hanging helps the killer reach their goal, but with how the game flows, it may still be the best option. That is super unfun no matter how you cut it.

Not surprisingly, Level 99 Games did a nice job with the components. Nothing fancy, but the minis are detailed and the art on the character cards is pretty good. Outside of the aforementioned color coded boards, everything has a dark and black art direction. Still, I can’t say the theme comes through super strong here, but it’s not totally abstract either.

Dead by Daylight Minis
A wounded survivor is ready to be sacrificed as long as there is a hook nearby.

Final Thoughts:

Dead by Daylight is a fun little romp that finishes in under an hour. The player count restrictions will keep this from coming out more regularly, but I still expect it to see daylight during Halloween season. It’s charming (outside of the lose a turn mechanism), approachable, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. If you enjoy the video game, I can see you getting even more out of this even though it’s not “dripping with theme.” I’d recommend trying this if you’re into one vs. many games, which I’ve found to be not so popular in my circles.

Final Score: 3 stars – A highly replayable deduction and survival game that creates good tension and fun, but suffers from an inflexible player count and lose a turn mechanism.

3 StarsHits:
• Fun and tense action trying to repair generators while running from the killer.
• Lots of replay value through unique characters and a ton of perks.
• Easy to teach and jump right into the action

Misses:
• Inflexible player count
• Lose a turn mechanism can sour the experience for some

Get Your Copy

Spencer is a lifelong gamer. Spencer bounces around from hobby board game to hobby board game with plenty of Nintendo Switch in the mix. His preference is for high interaction games such as dudes on a map, negotiation, social deduction, and party games. Clockwork Wars, Inis, Resistance: Avalon, and Lords of Vegas are a few of his current favorites.

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