The Dead by Daylight Sadako Rising DLC is terrifying (and difficult)

The new Dead by Daylight Sadako Rising DLC constantly reminds me that I’m still very bad at this game. 

Not only am I a mediocre killer, but I’m absolutely petrified half the time. The Sadako Rising DLC centers around the iconic Japanese horror franchise Ringu, or The Ring, and the new killer is consistently terrifying. She’s also scary to try and inhabit, as she’s one of the more difficult killers to join Dead by Daylight. So, while I’m certainly enjoying myself playing the latest iteration of Dead by Daylight, I’ve got a lot of work to do if I want to be considered even a half-decent player, and Sadako Rising is a stark reminder of that.

Sadako thriving

Dead by Daylight Sadako Rising

(Image credit: Behavior Interactive)

The Sadako Rising DLC is scary as hell – and not just during matches. As I’m going through the menus reading about the new Killer (known in-game as The Onryō), the small, water-logged girl shuffles back and forth on-screen. Dead by Daylight includes her lore from the Ringu series, so I get a chance to refamiliarize myself with her story. 

Sadako Yamamura is a powerful and lethal Onryō, the daughter of a famed seer who used to spend hours upon hours on the beach, staring out into the ocean. Some said this bizarre behavior welcomed the presence of an evil monster, who affected the unborn child in her womb. As such, Sadako was born with powers that flared with her rage, and after killing a man who mocked her mother, was lured to a well and pushed into it, where she perished. After finishing this terrible story, I go over to her Bloodweb (or skill tree) and start leveling her up, my brow furrowed in concentration while my mind wanders back to the horrible fate of that little girl. It’s then that the shambling spirit of Sadako suddenly pops up, so close it feels like she’s going to crawl out of the screen.

I yell so loud I startle my upstairs neighbor, who shouts down back at me as I scramble up my couch, pulling my feet up as if it’ll protect me from evil spirits. Yup, Dead by Daylight now has a menu jump scare – which has been scaring the crap out of other players, so at least it’s not just me. But as a well-known scaredy cat, this jump scare unnerves me so much I go into my first match incredibly jumpy, my palms wet with fear-sweat. It doesn’t help that I decide to queue as a survivor after suffering Dead by Daylight’s infamously long killer queue times for nearly 15 minutes – my first match in weeks and I’m going in shaken to my core. 

The killer in my first game isn’t Sadako, but I’m on such a razor’s edge that I can’t think straight. I miss my first several quick time events, loudly alerting the killer to my location. I’m the first survivor hooked, and as I’m unfamiliar with the map, I keep getting caught. Before I even have a chance to properly calm down, the killer hooks me for a third time and I’m taken away by the Entity. So, I decide it’s time to give Sadako a try – I can’t be scared of something if I embody it, right?

 Killer instinct 

Dead by Daylight Sadako Rising

(Image credit: Behaviour Interactive)

Wrong. Sadako is an incredibly tough killer to get the hang of for a fairly new player – after all, she is categorized as “hard” in Dead by Daylight’s three-tier difficulty rating. Like the Wraith, Sadako can shift into a form that is undetectable to survivors, but this form is also one in which she can’t attack. In order to hurt survivors, you have to shift into a more tangible form, called manifesting. When playing Sadako, TVs appear across the map, and you can select them by directing your reticle and project into them while de-manifested. Doing this makes a tangible form of Sadako crawl out of the TV you’ve projected her onto, which can startle survivors but definitely gives them time to run away. 

As such, I spend the first five minutes of my match as Sadako creeping about in de-manifested form, trying to find survivors. When I project into a TV near where I was just alerted to a generator sound, there’s no survivors in sight. And since survivors can shut off TVs, my teleportation options quickly grow scarce as they can (and do) shut off several TVs near generators, and the cooldown for them feels rather long. Plus, it seems like they’re aware of my presence even when I’m not manifested, and without a ton of perks I’m just shambling about the map in my dressing gown, feeling stupid. 

I’ve learned that this is how it always is with a new Dead by Daylight killer, however, especially if you’re still learning the game’s ropes (which are rather tangled). There are so many perks in this game that it’s hard to fully grasp them all, and dropping into a match with a new, low-leveled killer is akin to that scene in Harry Potter when all the kids turn their biggest fears into something ridiculous. I’m certain the survivors were not scared of a small girl trying and failing to attack them through a downed pallet, nor were they afraid of me as I helplessly chased them through the exit. All four survivors made it out alive in an embarrassingly short amount of time in my first game as Sadako, and my next several don’t go any better.

So, I swap back to survivor, and play a few more games as the DLC’s other new character, Yoichi Asakawa, a character first introduced in the Ringu franchise as a young boy. My first match back as  survivor, I play the Yoichi to the killer’s Sadako, and it’s clear the person playing the killer wants to make an example out of me, as they keep seeking me out. As I try to scramble away from the Onryō, the game’s heart-pounding audio cue alerting me of her vicinity, I’m quickly felled by the vengeful spirit. I realize, once again, that I’m sweating, and decide I’ve had enough scares for the night. Dead by Daylight is still punishingly tough, and the Sadako Rising DLC is just a reminder that I’ve got a long way to go before I’m a master of death. 

If you’re looking for some other excellent scares at this time of the year, head over to our best horror games guide for more.

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