What did VHS do wrong?
Video Horror Society, the much-touted "DBD killer" that's been in early access for a year or two now, is shutting down.
1 - Aesthetic
VHS was aiming for the 80s synthwave/90s VHS rental horror vibe, which is trendy these days, but trendy for a reason - it's a whole lot of fun.
They just forgot the "horror" part.
The killers were mostly inoffensive and mild (some kind of lizard thing, a goofy-looking doll guy, a generic robot) with the only completely horror-inspired character being a generic werewolf (who was kind of cool). The game went to great lengths to avoid blood and gore, and most of the characters' cosmetics were aiming more to be goofy and funny rather than scary and cool.
And while a lot of DBD's maps are creepy, forboding, and imposing, VHS's felt bland by comparison. Even the coolest one, an old school arcade with a cyberpunk vibe, was completely bereft of anything remotely scary. There were a few Halloween decorations scattered sparsely throughout one of the levels, but that was about it.
They played it way too safe in this regard, and I felt like this was a large part of the reason I couldn't enjoy it as much as DBD. I wanted my werewolf to put fear into the hearts of players; I didn't need him wearing a swimsuit.
2 - The Grind
Oh, god. The grind. It made DBD's grind even before the changes look positively generous by comparison.
You would have to spend potentially hundreds of hours playing one particular character if you wanted to unlock their perks, and that's not an exaggeration, especially if you were playing killer (see "game balance" below), because, in general, as a killer, you were not getting a whole lot of points. And you had to play that exact character to get their perks; you couldn't just save up currency playing your main and use it to buy another character's perks.
Assembling a full meta build would easily have taken hundreds of hours on its own. I couldn't bring myself to play that much as miserable as most of the matches were.
Also, while a lot of the cosmetics were "free" in the sense that you could grind for them, they'd take 20x as long to achieve as similar cosmetics in DBD (and they weren't really that good).
3 - Game Balance
Now, there were some killer mains who could consistently win matches, at least if you were to believe the chatter on the associated subreddit, but they were few and far between, with survivor win rates being sky high.
I feel like a large part of the game was thought up by someone who thought that pre-6.1.0 DBD was too killer-sided and wanted to do something about it. Survivors can fight back in this game, which is fine, but the fact of the matter is that it made survivors significantly stronger than killers for large portions of the match, and there were four of them. Unless 2+ survivors were completely new to the game or dropped the ball in major ways, killers weren't getting a win.
You could play as a survivor and make numerous mistakes throughout the match and still survive (there was even a way to revive dead players), but if you didn't play absolutely perfectly as killer, you couldn't win chases, and if you made the slightest mistake at certain points in the game, it would result in your death. You'd have to play for the snowball, which rarely worked since survivors were nearly impossible to follow after losing a chase and were so difficult to find that they had to implement special mechanics for when you hadn't seen one in five minutes.
This was complained about a lot even inside of the VHS community, and killers were given some small buffs to compensate, but it was still very one-sided a majority of the time, and killer queue times were basically instant while survivor queue times could get up to an hour or more at particularly bad times.
4 - Excessive Monetization
One thing I really respect about DBD as a game is that, unlike many others out there, it does not try to bleed you dry. Licensed killers are absolutely affordable, non-licensed ones can be gotten for free in a week of grinding, cosmetics are transitioned to iri shards after a while, and the Rift, while absolutely worth paying for, doesn't give you any ingame advantage (and is also affordable to boot, at $10 every couple of months).
The result of that is that the game has earned my trust, and so I don't really feel so ripped off when I occasionally drop $30 on some skins or whatever. Because I already love the game, and I didn't have to spend a fortune in order to do that, so it's a lot easier to justify spending amounts of money on it that I wouldn't even consider spending somewhere else.
In VHS, killers were something like $15.00 a pop, IIRC, and the paid killers were much stronger than the base killers. I think that robot had a pretty decent winrate compared to the free killers, but I also couldn't justify spending an amount of money that could get me several decent indie games on one character just so I could win a match.
And then cosmetics were expensive, and one of the DLCs was $99.00.
You know, I've probably spent well over $99.00 on DBD, but I felt like I was getting something out of it. Do you know why? Because DBD had the good business sense to get me addicted first. I'm well aware that BHVR wants my money, but they gave me a good experience in exchange for that instead of just shamelessly straight-up asking me for a hundred bucks out of nowhere.
Interested in hearing others' opinions on this, also.