VHS has recently gained in popularity as Dead by Daylight players search for similar games to play. The latter has reigned supreme in the 1v4 asymmetrical horror genre for years, and it’s not surprising that players are looking for other games in the same vein for something new and exciting.
Many players are also getting tired of the problems that have plagued Dead by Daylight for years, like hackers, the ever-increasing grind, poor balancing decisions, and toxic players that make the game less fun. But will VHS be the change that players are looking for? To date, every other new 1v4 asymmetrical horror game has more or less failed.
Gameplay and base mechanics
First, let’s take a look at the basics of VHS, and how different it is from Dead by Daylight. VHS puts a team of 4 Teens against one vicious Monster. It’s your classic Survivors vs Killer setup, but the goals of the players are very different from their counterparts in Dead by Daylight. Both sides are trying to eliminate each other, and whoever dies first loses.
So, how do the Teens kill the Monster? Well, there is a mechanic called Stigmas, and each Stigma represents a different type of weapon. There are four Stigma types, which are Burn, Shock, Purify, and Curse. The Monster must be killed once by each type of Stigma. This is represented by icons at the top of the screen. The corresponding Stigma icon will slowly fill up as the Monster is hit by the corresponding damage type.
Teens kill the Monster by hitting them with a Stigma weapon for two seconds. Teens can create these weapons at special workstations, and each workstation can only craft one type of Stigma. But if the Monster can avoid their attacks, the Stigma icon drains back down until it’s clear, giving the Monster a chance to reset the board.
Once a Monster has been killed by a specific Stigma, the icon of that Stigma type turns grey. If anyone attacks the Monster with that Stigma in the future it will stun the Monster instead. When the Monster is killed by a Stigma, they turn invisible and can move around to choose a spot to respawn at.
Playing as the Monster
In order for the Monster to win, they must kill all four Teens. There are no hooks like in Dead by Daylight – all the Monster has to do is simply get the Teen’s health bar to 0 to permanently kill them.
Note, that the health bar in VHS only represents how close to death a Teen is, it does not represent anything about a Teen’s health state. Instead, health states are represented by the Teen’s profile pictures. When their background is blue they are healthy, when it is yellow they are injured, and when it is red they are knocked down. It is possible to be healthy but have a nearly depleted health bar.
Anytime a Teen is attacked by the Killer their health will decrease, and if the Teen is knocked down their health starts depleting at a slow pace. When a Teen has a purple skull icon on their profile, this means the next time they get knocked down they will die. To discourage tunneling, the Killer cannot see this purple skull.
Typically it will take six hits to kill a Teen, but it could be less if the Teen is left in the knocked down state for too long. It could also take more than six hits if the Teens are able to escape the Monster and heal themselves. The Monster will also automatically win if all Teens are in the knocked down state.
The mechanics get more complicated than what I have described. This is just a quick summary of how the game works.
Objectives and skill vs. luck
VHS and Dead by Daylight are two very different games. While many are quick to brand it as a copy of Dead by Daylight, the actual similarities are slim. They mostly just share the same genre. I do think VHS has a lot of mechanics that make up for the shortcomings of Dead by Daylight and improve the formula. One of the biggest benefits VHS has is that it will be free-to-play, and Hellbent Games has assured players it will not be pay-to-win.
Another positive aspect of VHS is that there are clear goals for both sides: elimination. In Dead by Daylight there has never been a clear goal for what is considered a win or a loss. Survivors can be sacrificed but still rank up. A Survivor can do multiple gens and escape, but lose a rank nonetheless. Killers can kill only two Survivors instead of all four and still rank up as well. This leads to confusion about what constitutes a good player in Dead by Daylight.
Another major benefit in VHS is the lack of luck-based mechanics. In Dead by Daylight there are a lot of situations that make players frustrated because the other side can win purely by luck. One of the biggest examples of this is the Hatch mechanic. The Killer can play a perfect game, but because the last Survivor has the Hatch spawn next to them, they get out for free. Alternatively, the Killer could have the Hatch spawn next to them so the Survivor automatically loses. This is just one example of a luck-based mechanic in Dead by Daylight.
Solo play and communication
VHS also has a way better solo player experience for the Teen side than Dead by Daylight has for their Survivors. This is accomplished by providing lots of in-game information. When you play a Teen you can see where everyone is at all times by looking at their icons. The name of the location the Teen is at will be listed.
Not only that, but all players can ping the map. So if you do not have a mic you can still communicate things like the Monster’s location, or what station you are working on. Dead by Daylight has absolutely nothing for solo Survivors, making the game incredibly frustrating for people who want to play solo.
Speaking about mics, VHS also has an in-game voice chat. While it poses a potential for toxicity, it does have a lot of benefits and is another big plus for solo players. If anyone is ever being toxic you can always mute them, so there is no real downside. The Monster cannot hear Teens talking either, so there is no way to trash-talk them during the match. Players who are good at communication will excel in VHS.
There is a lot of opportunity for individual player skill to shine in VHS as well. In Dead by Daylight the most you can do is try to get the Killer to chase you for five generators, but there is no way to force them. Against smart Killers, you cannot carry your team to victory. Conversely, in VHS one really good player has the potential to carry their team, and that is because of the Stigma weapons. These allow players to directly confront the Monster.
The opportunity for skill-based play applies to the Monster side as well. A player with skill can use their Monster’s abilities wisely, and trick Teens into wasting their weapons for the win. The general player consensus so far is that VHS offers more opportunities to express skill and be rewarded for it.
The progression system in VHS looks a lot better than Dead by Daylight’s so far as well. Each character does have access to unique perks, but once they are unlocked these perks are available for all other characters. This is completely different than Dead by Daylight where you have to spend thousands of Bloodpoints to unlock the perks, and then even more Bloodpoints to get those perks on other characters.
So far VHS is definitely looking to be a good alternative to Dead by Daylight, especially for players who are more interested in action than doing objectives.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Dead by Daylight (and VHS) content.