Review: Dead by Daylight: The Realm Beyond and Descend Beyond
After four years on the market, Dead by Daylight has grown very comfortable in its seat as the reigning champion in the genre it helped codify. As many other titles that have attempted to match Dead by Daylight‘s success fall by the wayside, it’s left fans wondering if we’d ever see the champion take advantage of its lead and improve the game’s base along with the DLC content that remains steady (and impressive). While the base game isn’t terribly old, much of it hasn’t aged that well; Dead by Daylight‘s humble origins still remain alongside the newer, more impressive content, and the difference has slowly become staggering. The launch maps and core gameplay elements (animations, models, etc) look noticeably sub-par when matched up against the newer content. As the title prepares to jump over to next-gen, Behavior Interactive has begun to cast off those older elements and refine the look of the Entity’s Realms into a more modern feel with the first update to the game’s visuals.
Dead by Daylight: The Realm Beyond — Part 1 introduces a slew of major visual upgrades, and some are frankly jaw-dropping as a long time fan of the game. From texture changes to new lighting effects to new animations, I’m constantly finding new aspects to gawk at. Gone are the clunky “massage” animations for repairing generators, along with the generator models themselves; new animations specific to each side of the generator with new visual and sound effects create a much more satisfying interaction on more detailed and intricate machinery. Fully repairing one causes the floodlights to spring to life with a vibrance and atmosphere that the original version couldn’t dream of before, and lighting in general looks more dynamic and atmospheric. Searching a chest has gone from routing around through loud but invisible junk, to working to lockpick the chest itself, flinging it open to discover the item inside upon completion (along with a new model for the chest itself). Pallets have been swapped out with a new model, as well as the animation for destroying them as the Killer. There’s so many fun things to look at as a returning player, I just love it.
Even beyond these basic elements, which have replaced the old versions of these elements on every map, two maps have received complete visual overhauls making them among the best-looking locations in Dead by Daylight now. The Yamaoka Estate, the Realm that was bundled in with Chapter IX: Shattered Bloodline, has had a new coat of paint applied to it, and the colors really pop in a satisfying way now. Despite the fun (and obvious) naming, I can’t say this was ever one of my favorite maps, and as such I’m not as familiar with it to notice how major this change was, although lighting and color do seem to be improved. The major map change, however, is Chapter VI: A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Springwood.
Springwood looks almost nothing like its original presentation, with delightful new lighting and atmosphere that easily makes it one of the most standout maps in the game now. From an overall darker color pallet to absolutely delicious streetlamps casting yellowed haze across the pavement, it really makes me wish there was a freeplay mode to just explore it to my heart’s content. I’m especially taken with the power lines, which crackle on occasion, sending sparks flying down over you. I’ve played Springwood a lot, as it was a map that I could easily groove to (mechanically, not just the joy of it being a famed slasher location), and the changes look amazing.
This isn’t the first time any of Dead by Daylight‘s Realms have had major visual overhauls, of course. Léry’s Memorial Institute received a massive upgrade about a year ago, turning it from one of the more ho-hum maps from early on into something a lot more appealing aesthetically. That Realm’s upgrade doesn’t touch the work that’s been done here, though. Overall, this update has me even more excited to see the game jump to next-gen platforms.
That said, I’ve found that match latency has crept up considerably post update, and when I was playing on PC, I often found my actions simply not register; from unhooking a fellow survivor to trying to slice one down as the Killer, often my clicks just wouldn’t do anything. Over on Xbox, the same sorts of issues persisted, in one match in particular the lag got so bad I just gave up and let the Killer take me to be done with it. Hopefully, this is due more to an influx of players curious about the patch than it is the patch itself.
Along with The Realm Beyond, Dead by Daylight also received a brand-new DLC add-on: Descend Beyond. While I question releasing two updates with “Beyond” in the title at the same time, the new addition is very welcome and unique. Containing a new Killer and Survivor, Descend Beyond dips toes into something more eldrich this time around, with a pretty fun take on classic movie monster tropes. Feeling like something out of a black and white Universal Monster classic (albeit a smidge more disgusting), the Killer this time around is The Blight, a 17th Century scientist who flew too close to the sun and turned himself into a monster thanks to regular injections of a diabolical serum. His lore is pretty fun, especially if you’re into that sort of thing, and actually ties into Dead by Daylight‘s annual Halloween event, which makes me curious as to what they have planned. As an actual playable character, however, I found him to be extremely lacking.
The Blight is labeled as a Hard level Killer, but to be frank he’s completely unwieldy. I’m sure there’s going to be a fanbase for him, (the Dead by Daylight fandom can find love just about anywhere in this game) but his ability is extremely difficult to get a handle on. You know the phrase “easy to pick up, difficult to master”? In The Blight’s case, it’s difficult to know even where to begin. The Blight’s ability sees him charge headlong across the map in a quick burst of speed (not dissimilar to The Hillbilly’s Chainsaw charge or The Legion’s Frenzy dash), and while he can’t attack while doing this, upon smashing into an obstruction he can whip around to attack nearby survivors — chaining a combo of hits between any in the vicinity. While it can be pretty startling as a Survivor to see this thing suddenly smash into a wall directly ahead of you, I rarely found myself actually getting hit by him when he does this. Switching over to playing as him, I can see why. Essentially turning you into a beastly pinball, The Blight’s attack leads to frustrating and disorienting gameplay as your target makes their getaway. Eventually, I gave up altogether because I was losing time each match, and just resorted to the default whacks with his weapon to down Survivors.
That said, The Blight’s perks do offer some great new shake-ups. One in particular, which disables nearby pallets from being dropped after managing to successfully damage a Survivor, is awesome. The other two, which reveal a Survivor’s aura upon certain conditions being met, are neat but I didn’t really get that much use out of them (although ported over to my loadout for another Killer, like Pyramid Head, could be great).
Descend Beyond‘s Survivor, on the other hand, is a much more welcome addition gameplay-wise thanks to his perks. Felix Richter (hmmm) is an architect who possesses a tremendous amount of hope and the vision necessary to make it out alive. His perks are absolute game-changers, from one that shows you the auras of generators within a surprisingly large distance, to one that will actually restore a percentage of an equipped item’s charges after depletion (once), his usefulness is so tremendous, I can absolutely see a nerf on his horizon. His other perk, which allows him to unhook and heal survivors a percentage faster, can make a major difference when under pressure. The character himself is a bit boring to look at, but unlocking his perks for other characters to use will be great fun.
Overall, I’m very satisfied with both the main update and the new DLC (even despite how unwieldy The Blight is to play) for Dead by Daylight and eagerly look forward to seeing future advancements as we jump to next gen. While I’ve always been a fan, I’ve been worried that the game as a whole has been resting on its laurels, so to speak, but the Realm Beyond update has really solidified the dev’s dedication to improving the core experience. Again, fingers crossed those lag issues aren’t a result of the patch, we’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Dead by Daylight: The Realm Beyond
(9.5 / 10)
(7.5 / 10)
Steam key was provided by the publisher