More than a million people play a couple of matches of “Dead by Daylight” every month, and soon they’ll have a new survivor to toy with: Ash Williams from the “Evil Dead” movie and TV franchises.
In “Dead by Daylight” players take on the roles of one of a group or survivors or the match’s sole killer in a deadly game of cat and mouse. The survivors run and hide, trying to piece together their escape plan before it’s too late. The killer simply has to find the survivors, kill, and sacrifice them before the time runs out.
While the game is packed with a horror-fest’s worth of famed killers — including Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, Mike Myers — it’s always wanted and been missing one name long associated with horror: Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams.
“We’ve been wanting Ash in the game for a long time,” said “Dead by Daylight’s” producer Mathieu Côté. “Iconic killers are easy to find, there’s a long list of iconic horror icons, but survivors are kind of rare because you have to find the right mix of hero, but also a victim to a certain extent. And he hit all the right notes. So for us, he was a good fit from the start.”
Fortunately, as developer Behaviour Interactive approached its third year anniversary this year, they started working on another project with Lionsgate.
“We sort of came on the subject that they have the rights to ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ and we really wanted that in the game,” he said. “So it became kind of an easy process.”
While landing Campbell’s character once they were working with Lionsgate was easy, adding him to the game required breaking a number of the title’s founding rules.
“In ‘Dead by Daylight’ nobody speaks,” Côté said. “They have grunts of pain, they have screaming, screeching, but nobody speaks. We broke that rule for Ash Williams. He needed to say a few words and he says them.”
Williams is also the first character in the game with the originating actor’s likeness.
“We have Michael Myers, who wears a mask so it doesn’t really matter. (Halloween’s) Laurie Strode is not a likeness,” he said. “The same with Freddy Krueger and the same thing with Leatherface. A lot of these people wear masks.
“But with this guy you can’t do the character and do a semblance, you have to have Bruce Campbell.”
When Campbell appears in the game it will be the Williams of “Ash vs Evil Dead.”
“The interesting thing is that it’s Ash as he is now,” Côté said. “So he’s a little more aged, he’s a little more fed up with evil, but he keeps getting in trouble all the time.
“There were these notes of humor that were always there in the movies, some of them were more funny, some of them were more serious, but the level that they had in the TV show for us was just right.”
On its surface, the regular release of new killers, new settings, new survivors are what feeds the ever-growing popularity of “Dead by Daylight” but there’s also a growing meta-story, an underlying narrative that is slowly beginning to explain what it’s all about.
Côté said the developer keeps revealing more story slowly through the items it adds to the game, continuing to dig deeper and deeper into the plot.
“I don’t think there’s ever going to be the final reveal, the answers to all the big questions,” he said. “Because every time we bring answers to some questions, we always open a big bag of other questions.
“Next year though, we do have plans to bring much more narrative into the game. New ways to tell the story.”