The videogame industry, like all industries, has its cycles. Some good, some bad. I remember when it seemed like every shooter to come out was a WWII shooter. But now it seems like we’re having a revival of survival horror games. Apparently gamers are getting tired of watered down “horror” games that end up being little more than shooters with jump scares. Recently there have been some really solid survival horror games coming from the Indie market. But the latest entry, Daylight, is a AAA title. Or at the very least comes from an established developer.
I first became interested in Daylight when I saw an interview from Zombie Studios (the developers) in which the representative mentioned that the game was procedurally generated. Their aim was to have each playthrough of the game be a unique experience, with different layouts &, most importantly, different scares. After playing the first few levels myself & watching some videos of other gamers’ experiences, I can say that there is a randomness to the layout. Rather than everything being completely random, however, it’s more accurate to say that the placement of the rooms is random. Think of Daylight as a randomly arranged maze of horror.
The plot, from what I’ve gathered so far, is that you play as a woman named Sarah who wakes up in an abandoned, dilapidated hospital. She starts with only a cell phone, her light & map, with a mysterious male voice guiding her along. The voice, apparently a doctor from the hospital, knows Sarah, who from what I’ve gathered was once a patient at the hospital. But the island of New Kippling has a dark past, with notes hinting at plague outbreaks & dark rituals.
Daylight’s gameplay is very similar to games like Slender. You wander through the haunted corridors, looking for notes while avoiding enemies. In Daylight, your goal is to find enough “remnants” (ie. notes) to unlock a sigil to unlock the exit door. But the longer Sarah wanders, the more danger she’s in. Because of a strange symbol on her arm, the Shadow People are drawn to her. And they’re not here for tea. But Sarah can fend them off with flares she finds.
So far, my experience with Daylight has been very tense. The game definitely has a good horror atmosphere. Whispers, creaks & strange noises abound. Most of the random scares, like drawers rattling, haven’t gotten me too badly. But there was one moment that scared the crap out of me & made me have to take a break from the game. You see, when you pick up the sigil, you can no longer use flares to defend yourself & your threat level is maxed out, meaning you’re more likely to be attacked. Well, when I picked up the second sigil, I didn’t realize until I’d already started to get it that there was a witch (what the game calls the enemies) closing in behind me. So I couldn’t use a flare. I had to run past her as she was screaming at me like a banshee & booked it all the way back to the door. Thankfully, sister can sprint.
I have to say that, while the controls are simplistic, they work. Unlike most protagonists in games of this sort, Sarah seemed to have unlimited sprinting abilities & has a pretty decent speed, but she seems to have difficulty taking corners when running. For now the witches seem slow, but running makes it hard to see the map. And speaking of the map, it’s very useful & I think it’s unlikely most people will get lost using it. Although one time (when I was running from the witch) I somehow got stuck in the zoom-into-map option & could only stand still while I gaped at the phone. I don’t know if this pauses the game, & I only got out by pressing random buttons. Daylight also seems generous in providing your with glowsticks & flares, but that probably depends on your difficulty setting & how thoroughly you explore the area. The addition of safe zones in between levels is also a nice break.
(On an interesting side note, apparently Daylight is set up in a way that if someone is streaming it on Twitch, viewers can create scares for the person playing.)
Based on the Trophies, Daylight appears to have five main levels (hospital, prison, sewer, forest & final). I get the impression it’s intended to be a short but replayable experience, so this probably won’t be a long game. Of course, that all depends on how long I can stand to sit down to play the game in a single sitting…