Sometimes, the second chance is a charm and it could very well work out in the favor of those pushing forward, which might just be the case with Deathgarden: BLOODHARVEST from Behaviour Interactive, the developers behind Dead by Daylight. Here are our thoughts about the Early Access relaunch.
Let me be frank. I’m not a fan of Dead by Daylight. I grew tired of the idea of a four-survivors versus a single killer. Their vulnerability irked me when players wouldn’t work together. With no way to communicate outside of flashing lights, running side-by-side and hoping someone noticed what you were up to, Dead by Daylight became a hard pass for me after my review of the game had launched.e
Its core gameplay loop became tedious, tiresome even, and left me feeling drained after a few hundred matches of watching my teammates get tossed on a hook, left behind as a sacrifice by the killer to an ancient being we know little of. Outside of playing a killer, I grew tired of the game, frustrated even as I lurked about the map, mastering killers from creative ones such as the Hillbilly all the way to The Huntress.
While I still dabble in the game here and there, it isn’t one that had much-staying power with me, and it’s one I just couldn’t get myself to bother with after the several hundred matches came and went rather quickly. Which might make this hands-on seem a bit odd, to say the least. You see, Deathgarden: BLOODHARVEST takes a lot of the best elements from the teams former title, but exercising the core gameplay elements in a much different fashion and cranking the “volume” up from a five to a freaking eleven.
Deathgarden: BLOODHARVEST, however, isn’t the first time that this title’s been around. Actually, this is its second chance at life, having received an overhaul which includes more characters, new maps, a brand new progression system, and even some much-needed performance support. Luckily, everything the team brought over from Dead by Daylight somehow actually works and even makes the game more exciting than its sister title. It still has its horror elements, sending players running as a killer stalks them from a distance, using their tools of the trade to divide and conquer.
But, before we get too far in, let’s talk about what Deathgarden: BLOODHARVEST actually is.
This isn’t the Deathgarden you once knew
While Deathgarden is almost identical to Dead by Daylight, there are a few core differences between the two. Dead by Daylight is a horror title, one focusing on its horror elements, taking the best of what it does and truly bringing it all full circle until some players find themselves shaking as a killer somehow manages to sneak up on them, tearing them and their friends to shreds before offering them up as sacrifice to an eldritch-like entity.
However, Deathgarden does things a little differently; as does its story. In Deathgarden players can take on the role of one of two factions: The hunter, an invincible killing machine that packs powerful abilities, arsenal, and the ability to move almost as quick as those they hunt, or the scavengers – a fast and hard to spot group of people, each one using their ability to dodge, evade, and use their equipment to save those they undertook a session with. To put it short, they are otherwise helpless and they can’t fight back against The Hunter itself.
Just like Dead by Daylight, the Hunter is locked to a first-person mode, disabling their ability to look about, using corners and angles to their advantage. This is where they rely on their tools of the trades. Kit items such as land-mines, turrets, and even active cloaking devices are key to their being ability to divide and conquer. Let alone do they have their kit, the Hunter has detection drones at their advantage, allowing them to patrol one side of the map while using drones to scan the other side of the map, allowing them to cover more ground without actually being present.
On the other hand, you have Scavengers, which are fast, nimble people, each one able to parker around the terrain as they need in order to increase their odds of survival. Unlike Dead by Daylight, however, these five Scavengers aren’t going to be repairing generators or clinging to the hope someone has a key to the secret hatch in order to escape. Among the elements of surprise comes a new feature, one that Dead by Daylight certainly doesn’t have: Golden Crates.
The crates themselves aren’t just a simple mechanic. They’re a source of a means to an end if used to outsmart the opposition, be it a Hunter looking to conquer its prey or a Scavenger hoping to earn their way up through society. It’s a unique and lethal game of cat and mouse, one where agility, awareness, and teamwork will often reward a group of Scavengers.
Every set piece is a theme and tells a story of its own
Now, one thing that Behaviour does rather well, is storytelling through atmospheric designs. There’s a real cadence to the unfortunate circumstances the Scavengers face. For example, the lobbies for the Hunter are beautiful, well taken care of, looking through the window past the tenant looking to send you to a match is a beautiful city backdrop, one giving off a pristine view of the Enclave structures out in the city below.
The Hunter’s lobby is clean, marble floors, well taken care of employees behind the counters, and a sense of security. There’s no doubt the Hunters are vicious and ruthless killers, rewarding the members of the Enclave with each victory they achieve. To offset things is the Scavengers, those who live as “filth” beneath the Enclave’s heels, a ‘pestilence’ to their world, one that the Hunters will purify through every means necessary.
Let alone are they the bottom of the barrel, they’re also very noticeably seen as filth to the world around them. Their waiting room is dirty, decked out in steam pipes, grating, and an overall industrial look that would come off as degrading to many in their situation. Their only hope of leaving their Hell is the ability to win, to escape the Deathgarden and win their way to the world they never imagined being a part of.
The only thing that stands between them and that life: The Hunters and their tools that are designed to help them win. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if the game will receive a way for players to show off their success as a Hunter or a Scavenger.
But how does the concept and the execution of that very concept work and differentiate from Dead by Daylight?
One of the main goals of Deathgarden: BLOODHARVEST should remain clear to anyone who jumps into a Behaviour Interactive title. Just like Dead by Daylight, the Hunter does just as a Killer would do in the aforementioned title. Their ultimate goal is to take out those they hunt, eliminating each Scavenger before they have a chance to reach 125 Blood in each of the shrines or eliminate the survivors before the time runs out and they make their escape.
The goal of the survivors? Survive. Survive as long as they can if they can’t harvest the required 125 Blood needed in order to escape the Hunter. However, escaping isn’t as easy as it is in Dead by Daylight. The Hunter is buffed, they are fast, and their lethality escalates during this point in the match.
Let alone are they fast, lethal, and precise: They can now see you across the map thanks to Blood Vision, which allows them to see Scavengers as they attempt to escape the Deathgarden you are in. While this sounds rather similar to Dead by Daylight, it isn’t, and it’s actually quite a bit harder for the Scavengers to escape a well-seasoned Hunter.
These guys and gals are fast, very fast, as I stated, and some have ways to keep you from escaping if they are aware of where the exit points actually are. While I do enjoy the good ol’ last hurrah, this one can be frustrating, and for a Hunter, it won’t be uncommon for the Scavengers to tease you while they can before jumping into the escape platform itself.
But unlike Dead by Daylight, which to me feels like a slog as far as progression and content goes, I’m not getting that vibe with Deathgarden: BLOODHARVEST. I’ve sunk a moderate amount of time into the game since it relaunched into Early Access over on Steam, which says a lot about it, as I’ve done quite the opposite with Dead by Daylight in recent times. It’s fun, it’s riveting, and the use of multiple maps to accentuate the games creative designs is only a bonus to those that give it a chance.
Luckily, the game is doing quite well and it seems that Behaviour Interactive has learned a lot from the rocky launch of the games earlier build. They’ve taken a lot of what they’ve learned with Dead by Daylight and turned the dial from a five to an eleven and it seems that’s where they intend on keeping it.
This is good news though. This means that they’ve already started to implement features that might be a bit further down the road. Features that include new Hunters, new Scavengers, new maps, new music, new skill trees, and maybe, even maybe, new high-level talents and cosmetics (some already are in the game) for fans to earn as they continue playing.
But, there are a few drawbacks here that Dead by Daylight does a little better. Namely the Bloodweb that allows you to level up your Survivors and your Killer. I wish they’d do something along those lines. Adding in one-use items that will play into the favor of both the Hunter and the Scavengers, giving them even more distance between one another as they play their lethal game of cat and mouse.
The Conclusion – There’s a lot of potential, but the game has faltered once before
Don’t let the above section title scare you off. Honestly, I’d be surprised if this metaphorical monstrosity ran out of gas. This relaunch isn’t just a “hey, we did bad last time, so let us try again”. This relaunch is a “hey, we heard you, and we’re going to use your critical feedback to improve the overall end-user experience,” which they have.
Those that love Dead by Daylight, but want something a bit more visceral, won’t be disappointed. Deathgarden: BLOODHARVEST has tons of room for expansion and it doesn’t seem like Behaviour Interactive is going to drop that ball. Features such as controller support are already implemented, console versions are on the way, and there’s already subtle hints at some story elements being in the works.
The only thing I want to know: What is the roadmap for this game? What does the 90-day plan look like moving forward? But, as I always say with Early Access title: I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this game. This isn’t one that will be “I’m done and burnt out already” when that 90-day point actually hits. This is one that has a lot of staying power and if executed right, could start a brand new trend.
Our preview is based upon an Early Access version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.