Deathgarden is the latest game from Dead by Daylight developers, Behaviour Interactive. I was lucky enough to play the closed alpha and I’m happy to report that Deathgarden is shaping up to be a fun addition to the ever-expanding asymmetrical multiplayer shooter genre.
Deathgarden gives players one of two roles, Runners and Hunters. Runners, as the name implies, are tasked with surviving against the ruthless Hunter character. Runners must secure two out of three markers, which once captured, opens up the level exit, which then requires at least three surviving Runners to make it out, in order to win the round.
The Hunter player is fast, despite their stature, and has access to some heavy weaponry, making direct confrontations a bad idea. Luckily, Runners are agile. In fact, Runners play the game in third-person, while the Hunter class character is stuck with a more traditional first-person perspective. The third-person camera makes for an easier time in getting a sense of one’s environments, such as ledges, ammo crates, special drops, and incoming fire from the Hunter.
Controlling a Runner class character is also quite a fun experience in itself. Runners can easily scale up small ledges and mounds, jump, and use parkour to their advantage while running away from the Hunter and staying alive. In terms of abilities, Runners can pick between a healer, offensive type, and defensive type premutation. None of these features feel that distinct but instead are meant to be used in tandem with each other, coupled with good communication, in order to thwart the efforts of the Hunter player.
Hunters, unlike Runners, are simply tasked with killing three out of the five Runners within a match. In order to kill a Runner character, the Hunter player must first down three enemies in order to open something known as the Bloodpost. In other words, shooting a Runner won’t actually kill them, in order to execute a Runner, they must first be sent to the Bloodpost. Once a Bloodpost is active, the Hunter player can use it to execute a Runner in a brutal, SAW-like execution. Once three Runners are executed, the Hunter wins.
There was only one map available during the Alpha trail, but it was a fairly large grassland area, with more than a couple places to hide, which meant most matches felt interesting and fresh despite things becoming familiar fairly quickly. I had fun playing both as the Hunter and the Runner class, however, both classes suffered from a lack of direction, by which I mean, I often found myself just aimlessly running around the map, not really knowing what to do. Often matches felt random and disconnected from the core experience of either surviving or hunting. This isn’t the game’s fault necessarily. I feel this could be easily elevated by playing the game with a mic and with a good group of friends — at least when playing as a Runner.
If I had to pick a favourite, it would have to be the Hunter. Aside from a few hiccups in not being able to easily track remaining Runners in the vicinity, I had a blast playing as the Hunter role. Behaviour Interactive has done a commendable job in portraying the scale of power, with the Hunter class feeling armed to the teeth, thanks to weapons like a powerful shotgun, deployable turrets and landmines. The Runner class felt smaller but more agile and free, almost like going from playing a military shooter to a third person action hero game, making for a fun, fast experience. And yet the power of the Hunter was so thrilling, I couldn’t help but feel drawn in by its gameplay.
Although Deathgarden is only in its ALPHA, the game already has a striking visual identity — dark colours accented with strokes of sanguine red make up interior areas, while the outside is blanketed in an ominous fog that makes encounters with the Hunter, that much more frightening. Characters themselves feel stripped of identity thanks to the white masks dawned by all player characters, overall Deathgarden nails the dystopian future aesthetic while still feeling relatively original.
I’m not the biggest fan of online-only multiplayer titles, yet, I found myself coming back to Deathgarden for more, which is a very good thing, especially considering the title is still in its infancy. Players on the prowl for a simple but different take on the popular action shooter genre should put Deathgarden on their radar.
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