Dead by Daylight and Ringu collaboration provides two kinds of fear (developer interview)

Written by. Nick Mosier based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2022-03-01 15:00 JST)

Behavior Interactive is scheduled to release Sadako Rising, the newest chapter of Dead by Daylight being done in collaboration with the Japanese horror classic Ringu, on March 8. This new chapter will add Sadako as a playable Killer and Yoichi Asakawa as a playable survivor and has already made a big splash by scaring players of the Public Test Build.

While the standby screen and Memento Mori animations have already received a lot of attention for being downright frightening (related article), we can also see just how faithful the development team was to the source material. One example is how players accumulate 7 stacks of the condemned status to unleash a Memento Mori, which is likely a reference to viewers of Sadako’s cursed tape dying 7 days after viewing it. And how Yoichi Asakawa, now an adult, is a marine biologist, which doesn’t seem like a coincidence considering Sadako’s connection to the sea.

To learn more about the upcoming Sadako Rising chapter, we conducted an interview with Behavior Interactive creative director Dave Richard via email, so let’s take a look.

――Please tell us how the Ringu collaboration was different from other collaborations in the past.

One of the main differences between Ringu and other licensed characters we integrated in Dead by Daylight before is the fact that we were given by KADOKAWA the creative freedom to write the story of Yoichi Asakawa ourselves. We proposed the idea of Yoichi Asakawa because he is the son of Reiko and Ryuji, the main protagonists of the movie. So, we thought that we could take this little boy that came with an untold story, and develop him into a fully grown-up man, that fans can rediscover. The fact that KADOKAWA has allowed his story to be revealed via a video game speaks to the importance of our medium nowadays, and we’re very humbled by their trust.  

――What kind of difficulties were there when portraying “quiet” horror like the Ringu compared to slasher style horror.

Psychological horror is very different from slasher style horror, indeed. When we create a Chapter based on an existing production, we list the central elements associated with this IP. We ask ourselves: “what components are inevitable?” “What elements must absolutely be integrated in order to give fans what they’re expecting?” Then we evaluate the feasibility and verify if these features make sense in our game. Do they add something interesting? Do they give players something new? If the answer is yes, then we’ll probably consider them as a feature to integrate. So, players can expect that the new Killer will come with features and gameplay mechanics that are not found in other characters.

――Sadako’s jump scare gimmicks are going viral worldwide. What do you think about that?

Indeed! It is always great to see a fun idea coming to fruition like this. We are happy to see all those reaction videos.

――Was this chapter developed with these reactions in mind? 

When developing a Killer we have fear goals in mind. Not everything is scary in the same way. Some scare tactics are slow-burn, they slowly build up and raise the hair on your neck. Others are about pain and gore, or terrifying sudden movement. Every Killer have their own way to create fear. With Sadako, we had the chance to create fear in two ways. She can crawl up under your skin, be very creepy and create fear just by anticipation. She can also make you jump as we see in the reaction videos!

――Please tell us points you focused on with Sadako’s character design.

We wanted to portray Sadako as a character that represents Japanese horror. We had many discussions with KADOKAWA about how she is different from American horror characters. We tried to portray her accurately thought small details such as the way she stands, her movement, arm position, etc.

――Details about Sadako such as her nails being peeled off from climbing the water well are portrayed realistically. We want to know if there are any stories related to small details like that.

Yes absolutely. There are seldomly discussions on the degree of realism we want to bring to features that can create discomfort. Sadako’s peeled off fingers was one of them. It was really important for us to feature them as they are an integral and important part of her story and really show off the kind of struggle and rage she must have felt down the well.

――What was the developing concept for Sadako as a killer?

When creating characters that are based on existing licenses, our challenge is to remain as truthful as possible to the original character. Also, when integrating a new character, he or she must be fun to play, and fun to play against. While staying true to the original franchise, we added the “Dead by Daylight” touch to create a killer that is different than the other.

――There seems to be feedback that accumulating 7 stacks of the condemned status is difficult.

The team try their best to balance features so that they are fun and engaging. The PTB is the best time to collect data and player feedback since a LOT of players can get their hands on the new content. The condemned status has been reviewed and will be more common when the Chapter releases. We think this revised mechanic makes it more fun and engaging.

――Thank you for your time.

After conducting this interview over email, a number of changes for Sadako were announced based on player feedback from the Public Test Build. Manifesting and demanifesting speeds, visibility, and the Condemned mechanic are among what’s being changed, leading to Sadako becoming stronger overall. With Condemned accumulating faster and being harder to remove, survivors will need to pay closer attention to their Condemned meter. For more details, please check the official forums.

Dead by Daylight’s latest chapter Sadako Rising is scheduled to release on March 8. Combining the pinnacle of Japanese horror with Dead by Daylight will likely give players lurking in the game’s foggy forest even more reason to be scared.