Deathgarden is an asymmetrical action game in which one player is an unstoppable Hunter armed to the teeth with big guns and deadly gadgets, and the opposing five players are Scavengers, armed with shortbows, Trick Arrows, and Le Parkour.
In a dystopian future setting, the chosen few live in opulence within the Enclave, while the majority of people are condemned to squalor in the slums. To gain entrance to the Enclave, those on society's lower rungs can participate in a trial called the Bloodharvest, testing their skills of survival against a ruthless Hunter. The Hunter's role is to weed out the unworthy from entering the Enclave, ensuring that only the best survive and all others never escape the Deathgarden.
The Scavengers are placed into a small arena and tasked with collecting a resource called Blood. After the team reaches a certain Blood quota, the Scavengers must reach one of the designated escape points. The Hunter's goal is to kill as many Scavengers as possible by incapacitating them with weapons and executing them on the ground. There is an 8-minute time limit, after which the exits open and all remaining Scavengers can attempt to escape.
Like its Parent game, Dead by Daylight, the Hunter is relentless, covers ground faster than the Scavengers, and cannot be permanently harmed. However, the Scavengers can hide in tall grass, use their superior Le Parkour skills to escape vertically, and shoot Trick Arrows to confuse and misdirect the Hunter. Each round's map is randomly generated with an arrangement of trees, tall grass, cliffs, ramps, upgrade boxes, and tower positions.
Deathgarden entered early access on August 14, 2018. After a negative reception that saw the player count dwindle to almost nothing, the developers released a major update of Deathgarden: Bloodharvest on May 30, 2019 that revamped the lore and gameplay.
Deathgarden provides examples of the following tropes:
- All There in the Manual: Although some of it can be pieced together from the cosmetics' flavour text, most of the game's lore is found in the game's artbook with the deluxe edition
- Applied Phlebotinum: Huge advances in 3-D printing have enabled most of what happens in the Gardens. Shoot just about anything, and the bullet holes are reprinted no matter what the object is.
- Aura Vision:
- All Scavengers can see silhouettes of each other as white. Scavengers will appear red if they are downed.
- Hunters can see Scavenger auras under some circumstances, as from perks, drones, using a hacked box, or the blood mode endgame activating.
- Barrier Warrior: One of the Scavenger characters can heal and provide a shield to team members with their arrows.
- Blood Sport: This was the game's original premise, but became downplayed after the reboot. The Bloodharvest is still a contest with willing participants and overseen by a higher authority. It's also implied that the Bloodharvest contests are televised. But it's not really a "sport" in the traditional sense.
- Combat Resuscitation: Scavengers who are knocked down may still crawl to a health box or hiding place. Other Scavengers can revive them with healing arrows or by interaction.
- Critical Existence Failure: Per the norm in FPS games, Scavengers can take several bullets with blood flying everywhere, still able to run and jump at normal speed until the last bit of health lost makes their body ragdoll and get Blown Across the Room.
- Evil Is Bigger: The Hunter kills for sport, wears Powered Armor, and carries huge guns, making quite a contrast against the slim Scavengers who wear fairly ordinary clothes.
- Le Parkour: Scavengers can jump, roll, slide, and climb with ease. Since they can't hope to outrun the Hunter in a straight line, misdirection is a key tactic for Scavengers.
- Longer-Than-Life Sentence: In a variation, the propaganda vocals in the Scavengers' locker room will announce that some criminal has been sentenced to 100 victories in the Deathgarden. When a single failure means irreversible death, this is like being sentenced to execution at least dozens of times.
- Multi-Ranged Master: Each Hunter can take two weapons into the Garden and those weapons run the gamut of assault rifles, sniper rifles, LMGs, and shotguns.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: There are huge overtones of this in the locker room propaganda. There is an influential Hunter-aligned faction called the Pure, to which the Inquisitor belongs. Scavengers are referred to with insulting terms like "worthless" and "bags of meat". The Bloodharvest contest seems to be farce designed to kill Scavengers in droves while allowing virtually none of them to earn a better life.
- No-Sell: Ordinary arrows, and even turret bullets will merely plink against the Hunter's armor.
- Ring Out: A Scavenger will be instantly killed by falling off the edge of the arena. The Hunter is only returned to his starting box with no other penalty, but it gives the Scavengers some free time to collect Blood.
- Run or Die: Just like in Dead by Daylight, Scavengers are not meant to engage the Hunter directly. Special arrows can disorient the Hunter, but the goal is always escape.
- Short-Range Shotgun: Before the reboot, shotgun fire would vanish just a dozen yards out. Post reboot, the shotguns are still unrealistically short range, but they merely have a damage falloff and a wide spread unless stationary and aiming down sights.
- Trick Arrow: The Scavengers' various arrows are able to mark points of interest, heal, create smoke clouds, create fake Scavenger holograms, and turn Scavengers invisible.
- Videogame Dashing: Scavengers can do an Unnecessary Combat Roll in any direction at the cost of some stamina.