Hooked on You: A Dead by Daylight Dating Sim knows exactly what it’s doing. The newly released visual novel dating sim features four fan-favorite Dead by Daylight Killers and lets you pick which one of them you want to date – or get killed by. The writing is incredibly meta, with frequent references to fourth walls and IP restrictions, and nods to Dead by Daylight memes. Hooked on You’s snappy writing and characters offset its subpar minigames and convoluted plot points, but it’s hard to ignore that it seems bizarrely chaste for a game created to appease the rampant horniness of the DBD community. Hooked on You will make Dead by Daylight fans very happy, but fans of the best dating sims may be left wanting.
We are castaways
Hooked on You begins with you waking up on a random tropical island after having washed ashore. You have no memory of who you are or why you’re there, but for some reason, you have a snarky internal dialogue known as the Narrator constantly talking to you (The Ocean talks to you too, because why not?). Before you can get your bearings, a volleyball that looks suspiciously like Wilson from Castaway (red hand-print and all) appears at your feet, followed shortly after by four beautiful and terrifying Killers.
Just like any other dating sim/visual novel, how you choose to react and respond to certain situations determines your experience – in this case, deftly throwing the ball back to them impresses the Huntress, who looks like she could crush my head between her bicep and forearm. As Hooked on You progresses, you learn you’re actually on a satirical game show called Murder Island, and you’ll have to choose one of the four Killers to pursue or suffer the consequences if you try to juggle more than one of them. Naturally, I’m drawn to Spirit, who looks like every girl I’ve ever had a crush on mixed with Ranni from Elden Ring, but deader.
After just a few days on Murder Island, you’ll be asked to vote someone off to keep things nice and dramatic, but when the person I vote off pops up again in the story just a few minutes later, it’s clear that Hooked on You doesn’t have as serious stakes as other dating sims. Sure, I can’t pursue the person I’ve voted off any longer, but they seem to be doing just fine without me, and I sort of wish that my denial had affected them more. Am I toxic?
Hooked on DBD
If you aren’t a fan of Dead by Daylight, a lot of Hooked on You will sail over your head. The game is steeped in lore, from the minigames based on Dead by Daylight prompts, to off-hand comments about subreddit beefs and deep dives into each Killer’s backstory. If you aren’t familiar with the game’s OG Survivors, you won’t bat an eyelash when the two other people on the island are revealed to be Dwight Fairfield and Claudette Morel, forced into subservience by an unknown evil entity. The pair nervously fetching you drinks and laughing away the fact that the island seems to be keeping them in an undead purgatory probably won’t land if you aren’t an existing member of the community.
But even if you don’t know the ins and outs of every Killer and may not recognize most of the game’s references, you can’t deny that Hooked on You has some great writing and characterization. Wraith is a bit of a zany weirdo who consistently pops up where he doesn’t belong, Huntress is competitive and bold and certainly a dommy mommy (I’m sorry), Trapper is a big ol’ himbo, and Spirit is the goth GF you’ve always wanted. The more you get to know each of these Killers, the more the story flourishes. And Hooked on You is best enjoyed by multiple playthroughs – I wouldn’t suggest trying to be a player and flirt with multiple Killers in one go, as you’ll end up dead and forced to replay a specific section.
The winks and nods to intellectual property, the Dead by Daylight community, and the horniness of the horror genre make most of Hooked on You thoroughly enjoyable. It’s also great to see a dating sim that doesn’t ask for gender pronouns or sexual identities, but just requests you put in a name for the Killers to address you as. That means you can pursue any one of the Killers without any boundaries. Hooked on You knows its power lies in the community that has already sexualized its murderous characters, and it’s leaning into that. If you have trouble with reading comprehension in certain sections because of Spirit in a particularly tiny bathing suit or Trapper’s rippling pectorals, you’re not alone.
However, a cursory glance at the game’s subreddit will show that Hooked on You players are predictably and unapologetically horny, so forgive me if I’m a little disappointed at the actual in-game content. There’s nary a glimpse of an uncovered breast, and I can’t help but be disappointed by a lengthy section where it’s implied that the two Survivors are hooking up just for it to be backtracked. There’s a lot of buildup for not a ton of pay-off, even after two playthroughs.
I did laugh at a lengthy foot joke that’s revisited twice during my time dating Spirit. She asks me to put sunblock on her feet, prompting a quick-time event that mimics the skill wheel from Dead by Daylight, except it’s a suggestive-looking lotion bottle spinning around and a disembodied grey foot that you need to direct the, um, stream of lotion at. And when I do finally get a chance to get physical with Spirit (the physics of that are still unexplained, but let’s not overthink things), there are some lovely descriptions that brush up against a PG-13 rating – but I want more, especially since the build-up to that moment is frustratingly interrupted by Dwight, Claudette, and the other Killers multiple times for little reason other than to impede my progress.
Since some of Hooked On You’s objectives are often in conflict (I can’t tell if I’m meant to try and get off the island, fall in love with a Killer, or try and off one of them myself) and the minigames are rather lackluster, it’s only natural for me to want the dating aspects of this dating sim to be hotter than Satan’s house cat. And while there are some shining moments like having one of Spirit’s glass shards embedded in me post-coitus, Hooked on You is ultimately a bit tame.