Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Dead by Daylight on creating a modern female slasher for Tools of Torment

Over the years Dead by Daylight has become a staple of the horror genre, to the point that it’s getting its very own comics and movie. The game has touched on a variety of different subgenres related to the genre; body horror, psychological horror, and even fantasy and the paranormal.

This time Dead by Daylight is focusing on something a little bit different: the role of technology in modern-day society and how it plays a key role in their latest chapter, Tools of Torment.

“Technology as a tool for fear is something that we’ve been thinking about for quite some time.” Dave Richard, Creative Director for Dead by Daylight explains. “We love this idea of something as omnipresent and inconspicuous as drones are, when placed in the wrong hands, serve a dark and macabre purpose. It just felt like the right match with The Skull Merchant – a highly intelligent, apex hunter tinkerer.”

Tools and trinkets have played significant roles in Dead by Daylight’s killers before. The Huntress has her hatchets, the necessary weapon to hunt prey – regardless of whether they are human or not, and The Clown has his bottles of noxious gas to destabilize and confuse his victims. The Skull Merchant’s tools are much more modern by design, making her a stand-out among her other female counterparts, with the closest equivalent being Amanda from the Saw series.

However, what makes The Skull Merchant difference is her narcissism and competitive streak, and how the latter emboldens her to take advantage of those she perceives as weaker than her. There are plenty of female slashers in Dead by Daylight, but as Richard tells us, none are quite as “modern and as Machiavellian as she is” and so her victims never see her coming. The Skull Merchant is an alpha female who is also a rich cat that guts companies (figuratively and literally) to leave them to die in squalor. Considering the amount of fiction (and uh, real life) that has shown us just what money can do in the wrong hands, Tools of Torment seems an apt name for the latest chapter.

Dead by Daylight Tools of Torment
Image Source: Behaviour Interactive

The Skull Merchant’s status as a wealthy woman with more money than she knows what to do with is further reflected in her gameplay. Her drones are made from the skulls of her previous victims and are used for surveillance. Survivors can either take the risk of shutting them down and being detected by her radar, or avoid areas completely – thus allowing themselves to be ushered to and from areas like mice in a death trap. And, as Richard tells us, her perks were also a great way to further show her personality. “Game Afoot is a really good example of that. It makes the the Survivor she’s chased the longest the Obsession, which ties into the way she tracks down and hunts the toughest targets. She’ll only have the best, in all the ways, and this is directly reflected in her gameplay.”

As for her design, her bejewelled face mask is in complete contrast to the two pronged claws that she uses to slash at her victims. This was a pointed choice from the team, who wanted the personality of someone who is both cold, calculating and highly resourceful and intelligent to come across from just looking at her. As Richard tells us, The Skull Merchant is both practical, but loves beautiful things, and while her flamboyant mask and the rusty claws may seem like total opposites, the practicality and beauty is something which the team wanted to co-exist alongside each other to highlight her capabilities.

And, unlike the Survivors (Thalita and Renato) that have joined her in the Fog, The Skull Merchant doesn’t speak. While a long line of Killers and Survivors have not spoken before, newer chapters have included characters from either side that have spoken, either to one another, or as they’ve performed actions. The Survivors this time around do speak, but only to each other. The Skull Merchant, however, remains silent to convey her as glacial and near robotic in her quest for blood. Fitting, considering her modern and technological design.

The Dead by Daylight: Tools of Torment Chapter is available now on all platforms.

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