Dead by Daylight has been a major hit as an asymmetrical survival horror game that allows players to play as either the Survivors or the Killers that are hunting them. With more licensed and original characters hitting the video game over the past few years, the horror game has done the unthinkable by taking some of their biggest slashers and throwing them into a dating simulator. Do the likes of the Trapper, Spirit, Huntress, and Wraith manage to create a dating sim worthy of your time? Yes and no.
To start, Hooked on You: A Dead by Daylight Dating Sim is a very different game, obviously, from its initial source material in Dead by Daylight. Instead of fleeing from the villains whose goal is to place their victims on hooks for a faceless evil spirit known as the Entity, you find yourself suffering a case of amnesia while potentially kindling a relationship with one of the terrors of the game. In recreating a dating simulator, Hooked on You finds success in managing to weave an intricate story that pokes fun at itself, the Killers involved in the normal hunts, as well as the strange scenario that players find themselves in. Unfortunately, for a game where the player controls a faceless protagonist who is mostly relegated to choosing text bubbles, Hooked on You lives or dies on the wit and charm that it is able to convey which is ultimately a mixed bag here.
Let's start with the positives: Hooked on You is a real reward for those who have been following along with Dead by Daylight throughout the years, especially when it comes to the lore of things like its Killers, Survivors, and the Entity. As the player, you're routinely presented with the hilarious concept that this dating game is actually canon to what is currently taking place in the never-ending cycle of violence that the Entity has created in the asymmetrical horror game. Seeing villains like the Spirit and Trapper slapping on swimwear and living their best lives is a fun concept, and it's clear that the creators of this dating game, Psyop and Behaviour Interactive, are having a blast.
One strong aspect of the game that is definitely worth noting is the aesthetic and the artwork put in for the Survivors, Killers, and environment that you encounter during this beach party from Hell. The portraits of the Killers themselves are able to simultaneously capture the menace of each slasher while slapping them into hilarious beach outfits that, in a perfect world, would make their way into Dead by Daylight as proper skins.
However, when a game must be entirely reliant on its story and characters and most of the gameplay comes down to character choices and spinning a wheel for various quick-time events, flaws can appear that much clearer throughout. When you first wake up as a player on this mysterious island paradise, you're presented with two narrators, one of which is simply "The Narrator" and the other being "The Ocean." The jokes presented by these two bickering forces, along with the Killers and the island's resident employees, Dwight and Claudia, are hit or miss, even for Dead by Daylight die-hards like myself. Hooked on You can oftentimes have an identity crisis wherein it struggles between what it truly wants to be and how far it is willing to go in mashing these two very different genres together.
There is certainly replayability here in terms of forging relationships with the island's four Killers (Trickster also makes an appearance, but dating him isn't a possibility), but there's the question of whether or not you'd mind running through the motions once again to explore these new thread lines. Hooked on You is a $9.99 game on Steam, and while that is definitely an accessible price tag for many, the dating sim almost feels as though it would have worked better had it been a mode hidden in Dead by Daylight proper, perhaps as an unlockable after achieving a certain task as either Survivor or Killer.
Ultimately, Hooked on You has some funny aspects to it that are worth checking out for Dead by Daylight fans, but for everyone else who might not be familiar with the lore, this feels like a weaker dating sim that isn't able to truly feel like its own game that's independent of the main series.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Hooked on You is now available on the PC platform via Steam. A PC review code was provided by the publisher.