Silent Hill is coming to Dead by Daylight. Or maybe it’s the other way around and Dead by Daylight is taking a nice holiday trip to the town of Silent Hill. Either way, I am ludicrously excited that Silent Hill is making a bit of a comeback in any way, shape, or form, and that it’s coming to Dead by Daylight. As a fourth anniversary Chapter, it’s a hell of a thing, and it’s also the first Chapter to bring another video game universe into Dead by Daylight. No, Bill from Left 4 Dead doesn’t count.
Much to my pleasure, I got to sit down with game director Mathieu Coté and creative director Dave Richard. For 30 minutes, I chatted with them about what’s in this new Chapter for Dead by Daylight, how the Silent Hill crossover came about, and how this Chapter will change things up.
Unfortunately, this made me really want to talk about the new Chapter. Not doing so has been agony. Torment, even. Fitting, for something related to Silent Hill.
As a warning, spoilers inbound for both Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 at the very least. I’m pretty sure we’re past the statute of limitations for spoilers on those games, but go play them anyway. They’re great.
Visiting Silent Hill
Pretty much every aspect of this Chapter has something special, but before we dive into talking about Cheryl Mason or Pyramid Head, let’s talk about which part of Silent Hill we’ll be visiting.
“There are a lot of really iconic locations in Silent Hill,” mused Dave Richard. “We chose the one I feel is the most iconic, so we’re going to Midwich Elementary School — the one that appears in Silent Hill 1.
“When I played the game for the first time, this was the first location where you really see what the nightmare of Silent Hill can be, and it was so disturbing and creepy. We really wanted to recreate that in Dead by Daylight. It’s a perfect fit.”
Midwich Elementary School
But it turns out this isn’t the usual sort of Dead by Daylight map, in a number of ways. “Usually when you get licenses, you do an interpretation of a location,” Richard explained. “We can’t do exactly the same location as in a movie because it doesn’t make sense in the game setting. But now that this is coming directly from a video game, the team really wanted to recreate the area with as much fidelity as we could.
“Players that experienced Silent Hill will be able to go into that map and see a lot of the rooms that we see in Silent Hill 1. We packed it with a lot of secrets and winks to the franchise. We even put attention to the symbolism of Silent Hill in there as well, and also to the puzzle gameplay.”
Yep: puzzle gameplay. Sadly, the devs wouldn’t be drawn into explaining exactly how this would work – just that the map is “highly interactive” with a lot of little references from Silent Hill 1 to discover (and even recreations of some of the jumpscares). But they were keen to clarify that “it’s still the same Dead by Daylight gameplay,” so however it works, it won’t be the main thrust of the map.
In another first, this is actually a map with a lot of both exterior and interior gameplay. “Like the school in Silent Hill 1, there’s the school building and there’s the central exterior courtyard as well,” stated Richard. As the screenshots on this page show, that central courtyard-like area will provide bushes and outdoors gameplay, but you’ll also have the classrooms and corridors of the school building for more claustrophobic encounters.
The other important Silent Hill question is: is this in the Fog World, or the Otherworld? As it turns out, the answer is “both”.
“We chose to show a little bit of both of the worlds on the same map. So some areas of the school are in the more normal Fog World, and then other parts are in the Otherworld format — so the rusty, really scary place,” grinned Richard. “It’s a mix of both, for a very creepy recipe.”
The Survivor: Heather Mason/Cheryl Mason
There are a few possible Survivors that Behaviour could’ve chosen to send into Dead by Daylight. Considering Pyramid Head is the Killer, James Sunderland would’ve made sense, and Harry Mason is the first game’s protagonist. But the fearless Heather Mason from Silent Hill 3 (or rather, Cheryl Mason, as this is post-Silent Hill 3) has the honors this time.
“She’s a very interesting character!” enthused Dave Richard. “In the narrative of Silent Hill she’s very important. She’s the vessel to god; she’s the reincarnation of Cheryl and Alessa Gillespie. So she’s so linked to that whole story and the dark forces of Silent Hill. It was a great fit. She’s so conflicted and has this duality.
“In her perks, we wanted to show all of these themes. Veterans are going to see that there are a lot of funky mechanics in there. One perk activates when you’re cursed by a Hex, one links you to an Obsession… And there’s one perk that, for the first time, gives a little bit of power over the Entity to the Survivor.”
Cheryl Mason’s Perks
While things are subject to change, here’s roughly how the perks break down, according to Richard:
Soul Guard – Gain the Endurance status effect for a limited time after being healed or having recovered from the dying state. While cursed by a Hex, you can fully recover from the dying state.
Blood Pact – While you or the Obsession are injured, you both see each other’s auras. After healing the Obsession or being healed by the Obsession, you both gain the Haste status effect for a limited time.
Repressed Alliance – Repressed Alliance activates after repairing generators for some time. When the perk is active, press the Active Ability button while repairing a generator to call upon the Entity to block the generator for a limited time. Affected generators will be revealed by a white aura to all Survivors.
Looking at the perks themselves, Cheryl is team-oriented and plays with the usual Killer tricks. While Hexes and Obsessions are still “bad”, she actually gets some benefits from them. And she can even bend the Entity to her will and protect a Generator.
In a sense, though, Cheryl isn’t the only Survivor from Silent Hill added in this patch — but we’ll get to that a bit later.
The Executioner: Pyramid Head
When it comes to “Silent Hill” and “Killer”, the obvious candidate is the iconic Pyramid Head. Sure enough, the big lad with the bigger knife is Behaviour’s pick for the Killer in this pack. Behaviour is also keen to stress one thing: the Executioner (as he’s called here) is Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2, and not from the movies or the later games.
“We wanted to make sure we had the original,” Richard nodded. “So to the finest details on the costumes, and his lore, and add-ons, and power, and everything about him? It’s all about the one that’s in Silent Hill 2, straight from the mind of James Sunderland.”
Aside from just swinging that giant hunk of metal he calls a knife, what does Pyramid Head bring to the table? “You have a normal attack with that knife, but you also have a special attack. It’s a short-ranged attack that calls on the dark forces of Silent Hill, and it can go through collisions and walls.”
If you panicked on seeing the word “ranged”, don’t worry: this isn’t a Huntress’ hatchet. “It’s a little bit further than a normal attack,” clarified Richard. “It’s similar to the Doctor blast; maybe a little smaller.”
“It’s intimate,” added Matt Coté, with a grin.
“The way it’s triggered and shown to the Survivor, there are ways to understand where it’s going to land and where you should be to evade the attack,” continued Richard. “So there are a lot of mind games to be played, and a lot of skill involved to be able to land the attack.”
Judge, jury, and the Executioner
But that’s not actually the Executioner’s most interesting ability. “Pyramid Head can plant the knife in the ground and start drawing trenches around the levels, opening the world to let the Silent Hill force in,” explained Richard. “Killers have to think about where to place them, and how to strategize with the trench. And for Survivors it creates an interesting choice. You can navigate around it, slowing you down, or you can take the risk of going through it.”
As it turns out, going through a trench gives the hapless Survivor a status effect called Tormented. “This appears to not do anything at first,” said Richard. “But if you’re in the dying state? Instead of going through the normal loop of grabbing the Survivor, transporting them, and hooking them, Pyramid Head will be able to call upon the forces of Silent Hill and place them – on the spot – in the Cage of Atonement. This is a weird bedframe/cage contraption with spikes designed to torture the Survivors.
“It works like a hook, so Survivors can come and help you out, and you go through the normal sacrifice sequence. But for Pyramid Head, what it means is that you can bypass a big chunk of the normal gameplay. It gives you the advantage of speed.”
It gets worse for the Survivors. “When Survivors are ripe for the full sacrifice – when they’re ready to die on the hook – if they’re dying on the ground and are Tormented, instead of going through the normal pipeline, Pyramid Head can execute them on the spot. It’s a mini-Mori, basically. It’s called the Final Judgment.”
The Executioner’s Perks
Of course, powers aside, Pyramid Head also comes with his own trio of perks. According to Richard these are themed around deception and stealth, letting him surprise Survivors and lure them into specific places. But you be the judge. (Pyramid Head will be the Executioner.) Here’s how Richard outlined them to me:
Forced Penance – Survivors who take a protection hit are inflicted with the Broken status effect for a limited time.
Trail of Torment – After kicking a generator, you become Undetectable for a limited time. During this time, the generator’s yellow aura is revealed to Survivors.
Deathbound – When a Survivor heals another Survivor for one health state, the Survivor performing the healing action will scream, revealing their location and activating Deathbound for a limited time. During that time, the Survivor will suffer from the Oblivious status effect when too far away from the healed Survivor.
So: revealing generators and going into stealth, preventing Survivors who take protection hits from being healed, and both revealing healers and preventing them from detecting Pyramid Head. For such a big chap, he’s certainly got the potential to come out of nowhere and blindside you. I like the idea of the mind games that can be played with Trail of Torment, too, but we’ll have to see how these perks actually shake out.
Moving Pyramid Head into Dead by Daylight
One of the potential issues with Pyramid Head is that… well, he’s slow. In Silent Hill 2, he’s just this huge, lumbering beast, whose speed doesn’t even come close to James Sunderland’s. So how was that translated into Dead by Daylight?
“That was a challenge,” admitted Richard. “We told the team he’s supposed to be mechanical-like; he has this really lumbering walk cycle, he needs to be heavy. But we have the metrics we have to respect from Dead by Daylight. He’s supposed to be a standard speed Killer — as fast as the Trapper. So how’re we going to make that fit and work? When we communicated with Konami, they were like, ‘You can make him run, that’s fine. You can make him walk fast. But he should never jog‘,” he laughed.
“Our team of animators is brilliant, and they found a cool walk cycle for him that fits our metric. But it still looks and feels really heavy, and of course there’s all the audio design around him that makes him feel heavy. When you hear that big knife on the ground, screeching metal-on-metal as he gets near… you really get that sense, even though he has the same speed as the other Killers.”
Coté noted that this is something Behaviour has been dealing with since the very start of Dead by Daylight, and the team used a lot of tricks to help. “It’s the whole trope of horror movies. These big characters are always there, they’re always catching up to you, but they’re never running. They’re always one step behind you or one step ahead.
“One thing we did was make those characters ridiculously big. The Trapper, in real life, would be eight or nine feet tall, which means that when he takes a step he catches up to you even though he’s not running. These scale tricks help us keep that fantasy while still keeping the metrics.”
Working with Konami
When I was checking around the internet to see what the public thought this fourth anniversary Chapter would be (no, it’s not Friday the 13th; Jason is still in legal rights hell), Silent Hill was brought up a lot. But it was usually dismissed out-of-hand on the basis that it’s owned by Konami, another video games company. Yet it sounds like this was one of the easiest licenses to work with.
According to Coté, Silent Hill was naturally on their list of dream inclusions. And it turns out that Behaviour already has plenty of links at Konami.
“Konami is the actual publisher of record for the retail version of Dead by Daylight in Japan, so we already have contacts there,” explained Coté. “Behaviour has been making games for about 28 years now, so we know people that work everywhere.
“We each laid down the rules. If we bring characters into Dead by Daylight, they need to be able to do this, and this, and mix-and-match with other licenses. And they respond saying, okay, our characters need to do this and this. And then we get into the nitty-gritty of how we’re going to do it. Which version of Cheryl? Which version of Pyramid Head?”
And yet, as noted, this was simpler than you might think. “The negotiations were actually some of the nicer ones, because they’re a video game company. They get what we’re trying to do, and they’re familiar with Dead by Daylight, so it was pretty smooth, I’d say.”
This goes as far as things like the cosmetics. “Sometimes, licenses are difficult when it comes to new outfits,” Richard noted. “For example, Freddy Krueger. He’s got the striped shirt and that’s pretty much it. That could’ve been the case with Pyramid Head as well, but Konami has been great in helping us design original outfits for Pyramid Head and Cheryl that are going to be available in the in-game store, day one. They’re outfits that are unique to Dead by Daylight.”
I asked, but sadly there’s no chance of seeing Cheryl running around in her low-poly, PS2-era glory from Silent Hill 3. “That would break the experience for other players, to see a model that’s so old-school,” laughed Richard. “We did reimagine the outfits that appeared in the game for Dead by Daylight, so a lot of her outfits will be available in HD form.”
But this Chapter also brings a new type of cosmetic to Dead by Daylight: the Legendary Outfit. I mentioned earlier that, in a sense, Cheryl isn’t the only Survivor added in this Chapter, and the Legendary Outfits are the “how” of this.
“It’s more than just a costume for a character,” explained Richard. “It actually transforms a character into another character, so this allows us to represent more of a franchise. We can have more of these characters in the game without the whole package of building perks, progression, and everything else.”
“As a concrete example,” he continued, “when we release Silent Hill there’s going to be a Legendary Outfit for Cheryl Mason which will transform her into Lisa Garland, the nurse from Silent Hill 1. That’s going to change the outfit, the face, the model, and some of the key animations.”
“It’s important to note that this is a feature we’re adding to Dead by Daylight as a whole,” added Coté. “This will be useable on any existing characters – original or licensed.”
But still, no low-poly Cheryl. Oh well. I can dream.
Nonetheless, this opens up some intriguing possibilities for future content. Karen Nelson from Halloween (2018) as a new model for Laurie Strode? It’ll be up to licensing, but if nothing else there’s a lot of potential here.
One final musical sting
Before we close, though, there’s one final thing. Silent Hill is synonymous with the haunting and discordant musical compositions of Akira Yamaoka. Will he be helping out at all with this?
“We heard through some of our Japanese friends and partners over there that Mr. Akira Yamaoka was actually a big fan of Dead by Daylight and he was hoping for an opportunity to collaborate with us on something. Which we obviously wanted to do really, really badly!” recounted Coté.
“So we got in contact, and we’re very happy to say that the music for the Dead by Daylight Silent Hill Chapter is a collaboration with our own composer Michel F. April and Mr. Akira Yamaoka. So you can expect the music to have that very unique flavour of Silent Hill.”
The Silent Hill travel package (psychological torment included)
So there you have it. Silent Hill is coming to Dead by Daylight. Pyramid Head will be stalking Cheryl Mason (and Lisa Garland) through the halls and courtyard of Midwich Elementary School, with Konami’s blessing and assistance, and with Akira Yamaoka helping out on audio.
This is one hell of a way to do the fourth anniversary for Dead by Daylight, and I’m very eager to get my hands on it. The Silent Hill Chapter should be up on the public test build tonight, which you can access by going to Dead by Daylight‘s beta tab on Steam.
And the full launch will be handled the usual way. All of this new content can be seen and experienced without spending a penny, to avoid splitting the player base. You can face off against the new Killer and Survivor on the new map without spending any cash. But if you want to play as Pyramid Head or Cheryl, that’s when you’ll need to open your wallet. I, for one, have my wallet open already.