For the past five years, Behaviour Interactive’s Dead by Daylight has become home to some of the most famous horror properties, from Halloween to Hellraiser, from Saw to Stranger Things. The asymmetric horror game’s next licensed property is both inspired and perhaps a bit unexpected: Chapter 23 of Dead by Daylight will be based on Ringu, the Japanese psychological horror franchise based on Koji Suzuki’s novel that spawned numerous film adaptations and sequels, including three Hollywood movies (The Ring, The Ring Two, and Rings).
Behaviour Interactive and publisher Kadokawa revealed plans for Chapter 23 of Dead by Daylight on Tuesday, revealing that the Ringu will come to the game in March 2022.
Details on the collaboration between Behaviour and Kadokawa are light, but we know that the Ringu chapter will be based on both Suzuki’s original book and Hideo Nakata’s 1998 film adaptation. Neither company confirmed which character(s) from Ringu would appear in Dead by Daylight, but given antagonist Sadako Yamamura’s prominence and iconic look — plus a teaser trailer that shows Ringu’s recognizable well — she seems like an obvious fit for a new Killer.
In a news release, Dead by Daylight game director Mathieu Côté said, “This new Chapter will give our players something intensely dark and troubling, a real heart-pounding experience that adds to the already high intensity of our game.”
“It’s been 30 years since the first publication of the novel Ringu and 22 years since the film Ringu,” Reiko Imayasu, producer at Kadokawa, said in a statement to Polygon. “Collaboration with Dead by Daylight is without doubt a new challenge for the Ringu franchise. As an IP from Japan, we are entering the Fog for the first time … tremble with fear whilst you wait!”
Read on for an email interview with Côté and Imayasu with additional insight into the collaboration.
How did this particular partnership come about? This seems like one of Dead by Daylight’s more unexpected [properties] of choice.
Mathieu Côté: Ringu was very high on my wishlist of potential collaborations! So, we can say that creating a new chapter based on this Japanese masterpiece is a dream come true.
The franchise is now a worldwide horror phenomenon. The images that now live in our heads because of this famous franchise are deeply troubling, and frankly impossible to forget. Dead by Daylight is a way for us to introduce our fans to the fears and nightmares from other cultures, the Northern European folklore with the Binding of Kin Chapter for example, or the Latin American heritage with our new chapter Portrait of a Murder. So, offering players around the world a deep dive into this gem of the Japanese culture is for us an honor, and a very exciting project. Ringu will also give us the opportunity to play with psychological horror, which is something we have rarely touched in our game.
But to be honest, the more important a franchise is, the more scared I get too! Not just because it is one of the most frightening and disturbing stories out there, but because it’s such a well crafted and powerful piece of art that the bar is very high to create a Chapter for Dead by Daylight that will honor the source material.
Reiko Imayasu: We have seen Dead by Daylight’s great Killers in action and dreamed that our characters would one day be able to make a name for themselves alongside the other legends of horror.
It’s a great honor to see what we’ve been dreaming of as a team for years come true. It’s not finished yet, but the ideas coming from Behaviour Interactive are very promising. I can’t wait for people all over the world to play it, and I hope that Dead by Daylight will give the world more opportunities to experience the Ringu universe.
Given that Dead by Daylight’s interpretation of Ringu is based on the original novel and film adaptation, how will the killer be represented in the game differently or similarly to the film appearances?
Mathieu Côté: Since the Killer is a character that already exists in other forms of entertainment, it comes with a set of expectations, it already exists in the minds of the fans. So, the bulk of the work for us is to create a look and a power that will stay true to the source material and really bring that character to life in a way that surprises and impresses our partner, in this case Kadokawa Corporation, and our fans, all the while fitting into the Dead by Daylight world.
Beyond the visual aspects, the key element on which we base our decisions when creating characters is always the gameplay. No matter who the new Killer we bring into the Fog may be, they need to be fun to play, and fun to play against. When reflecting upon the possible options for Killers, the narrative and the background story of the character will often inform our decisions. With our recent Killer Pinhead, for example, we had to use chains as part of his Killer Power because it’s such a central element in the movie.
And if I may add, we have quite a surprise for Survivor mains also! True fans of the Ringu story will be excited and the players who are less familiar will clearly want to dig further into the story. I can’t say more for now.
Reiko Imayasu: As we enter the world of Dead by Daylight, we believe that there are different things that we can change and utilize for the sake of fusion. Our Killer is a little different from the predecessors in the game, specializing in delivering quiet terror. We want it to be beautiful, dignified, and scary at the same time. On the other hand, I hope you’ll be waiting with anticipation to see if the world of Ringu matches the physical attacks of “hooking” a Survivor in Dead by Daylight.
What elements are key to Ringu and representing the various elements of this universe in a faithful way?
Mathieu Côté: Without giving away any spoiler, I can say that the narrative aspect of the Chapter will be very important. Ringu is filled with so many disturbing details that the possibilities for us are very wide, narratively speaking. Also, it’s important to remember that our Chapter will be based on Kōji Suzuki’s acclaimed novel and original film adaptation. Our objective is to remain as truthful as possible to the original Japanese story, so the storytelling aspect will be central in that regard. As usual, when we create a Chapter based on an existing work of art, our challenge is to find the perfect balance between paying homage to the creation, while giving it a “Dead by Daylight touch” that will make this new content integrate coherently in our universe.
Reiko Imayasu: The novel Ringu and the movie Ringu tell the story of a cursed virus that multiplies and targets an unspecified number of people. The story is about the psychological fear of whether you are able to save your family in a time limit of 7 days.
How to portray the psychological horror is unique to this work, and I believe that when it is realized in the world of Dead by Daylight, it will be something that fans will be excited about. I think it’s important to pursue the fun of the game while still emulating the original. In this respect, I trust the Dead by Daylight team.
Working with them has been very exciting. They had a very deep understanding of both the novel and film versions of Ringu, and we were able to quickly discuss the core details. For example, they were eager to suggest things that we weren’t yet sure how to approach, such as the differences between the novel and the film, and how to portray the psychological horror of Ringu into the game.
I was very impressed with the attitude of the Dead by Daylight team, and I’m convinced that this is why the game has attracted so many great franchises and has gained the support of fans.
With Ringu being very different from more traditional slasher-type licenses in Dead by Daylight, what was the ideation process like? Did you feel beholden to any particular aesthetic or gameplay mechanic?
Mathieu Côté: You’re right! In the case of Ringu, we’re talking about psychological horror, which is very different from the typical slasher style our fans have been used to, so they can expect that the new Killer will come with features and gameplay mechanics that are not found in other characters.
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.
Since Dead by Daylight’s licensed killers have traditionally drawn from horror film, television, and video games, this is a new medium in a way. Does Ringu’s introduction open new licensing opportunities for Behaviour?
Mathieu Côté: Great question! This new Chapter is based on the original novel as well as the film adaptation, but you are right in pointing out that Dead by Daylight is not necessarily restricted to movies or video game franchises. We continue to build this museum of horror and it needs to showcase all the different mediums that have been used in history to scare people. From urban legends to books, to movies and video games. So, if it’s scary, it could absolutely become a Dead by Daylight chapter in the future.