Version Tested – Beta
Format – PC
Daylight is a psychological thriller, or deeply disturbing survival horror game from indie developer Zombie Studios. It takes place in an abandoned hospital for the criminally insane – they’re a typical hot spot for the supernatural, aren’t they?! You wake up with naught but your trusty mobile phone that acts as both the in game mini-map and your only source of light.
Before even starting to play I’m suitably anxious, and you should be too. The world is procedurally generated, so each time you enter the game afresh it will be completely different, generating brand new scares.
Waking up in the abandoned hospital, with no idea how you got there or what you’re doing there, and having nothing but a mobile phone to light your way is a pretty unsettling, and it only gets worse when a disembodied voice starts to communicate with you.
Managing to keep my wits together I started to search the hospital collecting the notes, pictures, and diary entries littered throughout the place. These, along with the voice-over, provide the story and exposition, and creates an intense and unnerving atmosphere. I certainly felt my own courage and will to continue diminishing the longer I spent in this hospital. Daylight’s world is unpleasant to be in even before you encounter any baddies.
You’ll certainly want to spend some time soaking up that atmosphere – the sound-scape in particular here is very notable and playing around with the creative lighting systems can be fun. The mobile phone also creates some interesting gameplay choices, especially when you’re being chased down, as sprinting causes the phone to shake about wildly meaning you can no longer see the mini-map, making it pretty easy to get lost.
There’s little more I can say about Daylight that’s going to be positive, though. Although lighting mechanics may be quite pretty, the textures they illuminate are dull and lifeless, and the items that populate the areas are repeated all too often.
You spend most of the game in this hospital and many of the locations certainly feel abandoned. Much of the difficulty in Daylight comes from navigating the maze-like levels. This wasn’t made any easier by having to try and differentiate between one corridor and the next. Cosmetically the locations are suitably creepy and this does add to the character of the game, yet you’re seeing endless bland corridors, tunnels, forests, and the frustrating level designs they populate.
Daylight did have me jumping in my seat a little and for the first hour my palms were at least a little sweaty. But the game borrows heavily from similar titles in the genre and this doesn’t work to its benefit.
With each new location you enter you’ll be tasked with collecting around five remnants which will release a Sigel into the area that you’ll use to unlock a gate and progress to the next area. With each new remnant you collect the threat level increases, Slenderman style. There’s even a section of Daylight that sees you running through a forest collecting remnants nailed to trees.
It is a simple mechanic that is repeated without change and once you understand the process it becomes all too easy to simply sprint through each level collecting each remnant. So long as you keep moving the enemies in the game cannot damage you because you’ll only take damage if you decide to stop, and even then you can always just light a flare to scare ’em off – these are in plentiful supply throughout. Without the threat of failure Daylight quickly loses its fear factor, and without that there isn’t a whole lot else to it.
New locations are separated by platforming/puzzle sections that are awkward, clunky, and quickly became frustrating as you sprint about the maze-like level looking for remnants. Frustration is only increased when the protagonist chimes in with ‘There’s no way out!’ or ‘I can’t take this anymore’. They were certainly the feelings I was experiencing whilst playing.
Despite my reservations after my first playthrough I entered the abandoned hospital once again to see how much was different. The layout and location may have varied but the textures and gameplay certainly hadn’t and I had no desire to complete the game yet again.
Areas for Development
• Improve textures/ visuals
• More varied level design needed, especially during platforming sections
• At times the clunky control system was unplayable and camera movement became erratic
Having enjoyed similar experiences such as Outlast and Amnesia in the past, Daylight was certainly a horror title I was looking forward to. Regrettably however, there isn’t a whole lot new to experience in Daylight that previous horror games haven’t done so already and in many cases done better. The phrase ‘flogging a dead horse’ comes to mind. Something which certainly would have added some much needed excitement to Daylight.
Technical Competency – 7/10
Graphic/Sound Quality – 5/10
Network Stability – N/A
Overall – 6/10