Banner by ERICVOLTAGE
Developer: Zombie Studios
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
North American Release Date: April 29th, 2014
European Release Date: April 29th 2014
Trophies: 0 | 3 | 13
Trophy Guide: Daylight Trophy Guide by yours truly
What Is It?: Daylight is a survival horror game by Zombie Studios, powered by the Unreal 4 Engine. The game aims to provides a new experience every time you play, via the use of procedurally-generated levels.
Be Afraid, Very Afraid...
Imagine waking up to a vibrating mobile phone, accompanied by a raspy voice. Then look around and realise you're in a dark, damp, derelict hospital and, to make matters worse, you have no idea where you are or why you're there.
As you try to compose yourself, you grab one of the half-dozen glow sticks that cast an eerie green light around an already claustrophobic maze of corridors. The atmosphere starts to suffocate you as you slowly walk and turn left down a corridor trying to find an exit... or at least answers.
And then you hear it... the sound of footsteps running behind you. Your mobile starts corrupting, the display starts tearing and giving off a strange noise. You freeze in place. The footsteps have stopped, but they stopped at their loudest. As your glow stick flickers, you grit your teeth and slowly start to turn around...
Your scream drowns out the blood curdling screech from the distorted face that lashes at you; your blood covers the screen as your controller slides from your hands and you keep telling yourself that "it's just a game... it's just a game."
Not the most welcoming of corridors...
From that scenario, imagine after you die, you wake up to the same thing, but this time when you get to the corridor, there is no left, only the option to go straight or right. Then, you die and have to do it again, but once more the corridor has changed. In Daylight this is a recurring nightmare. The levels are randomly generated so you never do the same thing twice. The corridors changes, the doors are in different places and worst still... the enemies spawn differently. So no matter where you scream and die, you'll always end up huddled in a corner, rocking back and forth, in a different place.
So, what is Daylight? As you would've guessed, Daylight is a horror game with a focus on flight, as opposed to fight. The story revolves around Sarah, a young woman who wakes up in an abandoned hospital and has to try and find answers as to where she is and why. There are no weapons as such, although you can find flares littered around the place that will cause the witches, called "Shadows", to burst into flames.
Told you that there were flares...
The main tagline of the game, is that the game procedurally generates so, as I've said, the corridors, enemies etc., change each time you play through. In theory, this should add to the suspense and draw you in. In reality though, it falls a bit short. There are really only a few areas of the game that actually have these sections and they are so maze-like and look so similar that you barely notice that anything has changed the next time around. So basically, if you die and have to go back through one of these areas, you feel lost again regardless of whether or not things have changed; and you still find yourself running around aimlessly, trying to find the Remnants (which are the collectables, in the form of letters/notes) that are needed for the "key" to appear so you can unlock the next "level".
The story is partly told through the narrative given by the voice on your phone, but a lot of it is from Remnants that are scattered around the game. With these you can piece together more about yourself, the place you find yourself in. This though feels... tedious. This admittedly could just be me, but I've never been one that likes having to read each collectable to understand or care about the story so, honestly, I collected every single collectable, but at most just scanned the document.
That said, you can understand the full story by just paying attention to the narration and it will all become clear, but if you want to know about the history of the place then start looking for those Remnants!
Noises, Lighting and Suspense
Almost straight away you'll notice some horrible frame-rate drops. As there are no load screens, the game loads in the background as you enter each new area, and this can cause awful sections (sometimes up to 20 seconds) of you glitching around the screen, freezing in place, and then jerking around again.
I also found myself glitching outside of the game itself quite a bit, and while most of the time I could glitch back into the game itself, I did have to quit and restart quite a few times.
That aside, the game looks like nice. Well, as nice as a dark, eerie horror game can look. The game gives off a dark, wet shine to everything. You'll be using your phone, glow sticks or flares to see where you're going, which cast shadows off objects but also make the game quite claustrophobic (in a good way) and you can feel the game closing in one you. The areas where the moonlight shine through cracked windows, adds to the feeling that you're trapped - you can see freedom but cant get there. In terms of colour palette, Daylight is dark, mainly consisting of browns, blacks and greys, which are complimented by the misty blue from your phone, the dull green light from your glow stick, and the vivid red from the flares.
The sound design is what really adds to the suspense and atmosphere. The creaking of floorboards, the deathly silence, the echo of your footsteps and, more importantly, the sounds of footsteps from "other" things. I just got a shiver writing that, thinking of the tension I felt when I first heard the footsteps stop behind me... I knew I shouldn't turn around, but I did anyway, resulting in my character being attacked by a Shadow, and me jumping out of my seat and swearing at my TV.
No matter how many times I knew that a Shadow had found me, I always turned around, knowing what was about to happened, and still always jumped and swore. But, to add to the teeth gritting, sometimes there was nothing there... so then I was nervous about turning back the way I was going, knowing that I was being stalked.
Sadly, shouting "Stop" at the TV has no effect...
The disappointing part is that the scares start to wear off; you'll eventually become accustomed to the game and its many horrors, and then on your next playthrough, you'll just run through grabbing the collectables and running away from the Shadow each time without paying much attention to her, though thanks to the randomised levels, you'll still be lost, checking each corridor and avoiding the bitc... witch.
To make matters worse, after the initial slow, suspenseful playthrough, you'll realise that the game is short. Very short. I could run through the whole game in around an hour, even collecting every available collectable for that playthrough, making me feel slightly ripped off for paying £10 for it.
Well, if you 100% the game without jumping, then you've got bigger balls than me... and if you're female, you might want to get that looked at.
Looking at the collectables for the game, they seem hard due to the Remnants spawning in different locations each time, but if you check everywhere, then you'll have those all done within a few play throughs.
The other trophies are both generic and straightforward: beat the game without dying, complete on hard, kill a witch, etc. You get the drill.
The doll wont save you...
My Daylight Thoughts
I'm not really sure to be honest. Daylight had so much potential and I was really looking forward to it. When I actually got to play it, I really was nervous and tense in places. Being scared was something that I enjoyed with Daylight; exploring everywhere, never knowing where I was going, whether it was a dead end, or if I was going to get attacked...
But then it ended. And I raised by eyebrow and thought, "hmm, is that it?" I was left unsatisfied, and not particularly interested in another playthrough.
If the game had been longer, and used more varied tactics to scare you and more varied areas (I know, it's a weird thing to say, especially considering that areas are randomised), then Daylight could've been so much more. In the end, it just felt like a shadow in the daylight... cold, dark and changing, but will ultimately destined to disappear.
My Verdict: 5/10 - A Shadow of Potential
Gameplay: 5/10 - It starts off quite strong, with a tense atmosphere - it grips you and makes you edge forward into the darkness - but in the end, the story is over far too soon and you realise there's not much to it.
Technical: 5/10 - The colours and visuals are pretty decent and immerse you into the dark corridors, where the audio will keep your ears twitching and your teeth clenching.
The big drawback for me was the frame drops and glitches. The game runs smoothly and without issue... until this happens and you're sucked back out of the story and remember you're just playing an unpolished game.
Select Critics' Scores
IGN: 5.8/10 - "Daylight's horror atmosphere starts strong, but repetitive corridors and nonthreatening enemies squander it quickly."
Eurogamer: 7/10 - "Daylight has neither the creeping sense of psychological dread of Fatal Frame nor the poster man antagonist of Slender, and its reliance on cliché lacks distinction. But if the game's straightforward purpose was simply to panic and upset its player then it is an indisputable success, no matter how cheap the tricks employed."
GameSpot: 3/10 - "Don't be afraid of the dark in this shallow and clichéd horror adventure, Daylight."
Polygon: 5/10 - "Daylight has moments of fear but too much boredom."
Like Daylight? And this might be for you:
Outlast: PC, PS4
Exploring derelict locations at night by yourself, with nothing more than a phone and a weird arm tattoo... (not that I can talk).