Deathgarden Hands-On: Run For Your Life

Deathgarden Hands-On

Behaviour Digital has established itself with the hit multiplayer game Dead By Daylight, and has spent the last couple of years polishing it up into an exquisite, if somewhat relentless, experience. But that doesn't mean it can't do something new with the theme.

Case in point – Deathgarden, the team's latest project, which is playable here on the show floor at PAX East over the next four days. It's very similar in nature to Dead, with a "five runners versus one relentless hunter" set-up, but the execution is far, far different – and probably Behaviour's most visceral game to date. Yes, even more so than Dead.

First up, the game is much faster. You play as either a runner that makes their way through the single map (working with a team of five total), or a hunter that sees everything from a first-person perspective, utilizing a number of weapons that can mow a runner down in a manner of seconds, if they aren't careful.

The way the game goes is like this. If the runners manage to capture three objectives on the map, an exit opens and they win the round. Likewise, the hunter can win as well, by disabling and finishing off three of the five runners. And there are several scenarios in which the tide can turn in their favor.

For instance, when a runner goes for an objective, they become "blood marked", surrounded in red color so that the hunter can see them and chase after them much more quickly than they would out in the open. But the runners aren't completely defense, as they can shoot arrows and lay down traps that can temporarily disable the hunter. They can't kill them, mind you, but they can slow them down enough to gain a few precious seconds to go after objectives or downed runners.

Speaking of downed runners, there's two ways they can go. Either they can be revived by a member of the team, or they can be dragged into the ground at the hunter's summoning, and then, moments later, pop up completely tied to a "blood post" after being drained dry.

Now, here's where things get interesting. Once this drained player appears on the map, everyone can see them. The hunter can either come over and execute them, and possibly leave a checkpoint open for a team member to take over; or the runners can try and rescue them, and leave themselves open to an ambush by the hunter.

Deathgarden relies heavily on team tactics between the runners, so you'll need to think carefully if you want to try and win the match. But that also means taking care of each other, and not giving them the opportunity to notch a kill on their belt. Because, again, if they get three, it's game over, man.

There is only the one map available in Deathgarden at the moment (based on what was presented), but it's an atmospheric one, with dark and gloomy imagery in a dark forest, but with plenty of paths to get around in order to reach objective points. The game moves at a brisk pace, with a fast frame rate and suitable amount of detail. And it's kind of neat how there are two perspectives, with third-person for the runners, so you can see what's around them; and first-person for the hunter, so they're more accurate and deadly, if not as speedy.

The gameplay feels great, too. We only got to play with the mouse and keyboard, but it really clicks when it comes to movement. The runners also have parkour-style abilities, so they can get around much more quickly than the hunter. That said, though, the hunter has a dynamic range of targeting, so he can see and aim for runners with relative ease.

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We only had a short amount of hands-on time with Deathgarden, but it's quite promising, especially to those that wanted something newer than Dead By Daylight, but not necessarily off the same pace. The game doesn't have a release date, but it's due sometime this year for PC, and a Closed Alpha should be launching within the next few weeks.