Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Hooked On You Review – A Love Letter to the Dead by Daylight Community

Hooked On You is a Dead by Daylight dating sim – a sentence which I thought would never exist before, and now feel foolish for ever doubting. If there’s one thing I should have learned after playing Dead by Daylight for so long, it’s that the community is one of the horniest I’ve ever been part of.

So it was only a matter of time before Behaviour Interactive took notice of that and, with a little help from a community vote, decided to put their plan in action and team up with Psyop (I Love You, Colonel Sanders!) to deliver a dating experience like no other. And, for those who have played the asymmetrical horror game? Hooked On You feels like a messy, but well-meaning love letter from the developers to Dead by Daylight players from start to finish.

The general gist of Hooked on You is that you play as yourself, only it’s a you that has managed to wash up on a beach island where there’s a omnipresent Narrator that lives in your head and the deep, dark Ocean is one vague threat away from killing you. And if you think that’s bad, then guess what? There’s also 4 bloodthirsty killers that live on Murderers Island, and all are willing to hack you into pieces if you make the wrong (or right, I’m not here to judge your tastes) choice. Fans will recognize these Killers (and romance interests) as The Huntress, The Trapper, The Spirit and The Wraith, and each has a compelling side to them that’ll either reward your interest in them, or send you to packing to the afterlife with a few less limbs.

Along with trying to seduce the random Killers you’ve found yourself trapped with, players will have to participate in mini-games and other shenanigans (like quizzes) in order to appeal to your murderous loves. The mini-games feel pretty hit and miss, with a spin-the-bottle technique which forces your eye and hand coordination into overdrive so you can hit a bullseye and gain a ‘Perfect’ score. On the surface it feels like hitting a random skill check makes very little sense in a dating simulator, but once I considered that doing just that is such a key component in Dead by Daylight I found the mini-games more enjoyable. Hooked On You may look and feel entirely different from Behaviour’s flagship horror game, but it’s still keen to remind you of its origins with a sly wink and nudge.

Hooked on You Dead by Daylight
Hooked On You’s mini-games feel just like skill-checks, and we all love those!

Regardless of how bizarre Hooked On You as a concept sounds – fictional serial killer dating, in my video games? – it doesn’t feel like a visual novel that’s main purpose is to poke fun at both the medium and the community that flocks to it. All four Killers are portrayed in a way that feels loyal to their original backstories in Dead by Daylight – but there is still plenty to discover about them. More importantly, newcomers to the franchise are not left behind in that regard. You’ll be able to uncover your lover’s backstory without feeling like you need to head over to the Lore Guy to understand it all.

Unfortunately, Hooked On You’s presentation does leave much to be desired. For one thing, often the images of the Killers felt far too small for the screen, making them stand out at an awkward angle in comparison to the text box. While the game does make a joke about that as being intentional, I straight-up hate the decision. It looks sloppy, and really breaks up each scene in such a jarring way that it’s impossible to ignore.

Then there’s the lack of pivotal options seen throughout the majority of visual novel games. For one, there’s no gallery – a huge let-down considering how loving detailed everything looks from character sprites to background environments. There’s also the fact there’s no fast-forward button or log, the former being helpful for players who want to achievement hunt without having to play through everything again and again, and the latter needed to help keep an eye on conversations and previous choices. These are standard for a lot of visual novel games, and feels like a huge oversight to not include in Hooked On You.

The Spirit aka Best Goth Ghost Girl

As for the humour, a lot of it is dependent on being part of the Dead by Daylight community. That makes sense to me considering the dating sim’s origins, but a lot of inside jokes between the developers and the community will certainly soar over the heads of anyone who stumbled upon this game with no previous background knowledge of what’s going on. It doesn’t make Hooked On You unplayable by any means, but you will scratch your head at why it’s so funny that there’s a chance you could be possibly eating Felix Richter during a romantic meal with your beloved murderers. See? If you know, you know.

However, while the game is far from being perfect, it excels in how it conveys its love for the Dead by Daylight community. I’ve been playing the 4v1 horror game for many years now, and have thrown myself head-first into its fandom spaces with glee, making new friends from around the world and even writing a cheeky fanfic here and there. It’s universe is massive, and while its community can be as toxic and unyielding as most online fan spaces out there, its clear to see how Behaviour Interactive’s love for their fans shines through in this dating sim. The amount of head nods towards fandom jokes, fanon representation of characters, and a certain meme is nothing short of fantastic, and Hooked On You’s masterful display of honoring the history of Dead by Daylight’s fanbase while telling a story that fits in twisted world of the Entity like a glove.

There has been hints that if Hooked On You is successful there is a chance there will be sequels, DLC or another dating sim game with other Killers. If that’s the case, then I think fans will have nothing to worry about because, as far as I can tell, Behaviour’s done a pretty good job so far.

Hooked On You is available to play on PC, via Steam.

Score: 3/5

Hooked On You for PC was provided to Gayming Magazine by PR.

Aimee Hart

[She/They] Aimee Hart is Editor-in-Chief of Gayming Magazine. She specializes in queer fandom, video games and tabletop, having started her career writing for numerous websites like The Verge, Polygon, Input Magazine and more. Her goal now is to boost LGBTQ+ voices in the video games industry.