XXL’s Game Corner: Daylight Review: Cheap Thrills
Developer: Zombie Studios
Platforms: PS4, PC
Release date: Out Now
When you play Daylight the first few minutes roaming around the dark hallways set in an atmosphere that is initially tense, you would think keeping a fresh pair of shorts would be in order. After a while however the game morphs into a frustrating venture of cheap jump scares leading to a steady downward curve of one-note horror trickery.
When Daylight was in early development the premise looked good on paper. It would be the first game released using Epic’s new Unreal Engine 4, and had a premise which makes the weaponless protagonist very vulnerable armed with only the most basic of survival tools: flares, glow-sticks, and the ability to run away from trouble. Problem is we’ve seen this before in the horror survival game Outlast which did it better. Daylight’s plot is simple: You play as Sarah, a confused and easily frightened woman who wakes up in an old hospital with nothing but a tablet device, glow-sticks and a mysterious voice for comfort. The glow-sticks are used for uncovering clues, and the flares for scaring off the ghostly apparitions which populate the hospital and make up the majority of the scares. Both of these are limited and need to be found throughout the various sections of the hospital. The strange voice Sarah hears guides her and with the aid of some on-screen text prompts, her goal is to look for ‘remnants’ that will give clues to help her uncover the mystery. Progress through each one, learn the hospital’s secrets, and ultimately escape.
Navigating through the hospital could have been Daylight’s saving grace as it features randomly generated levels and encounters with the intent of making the game feel unpredictable. While this would have been a dope mechanic the execution was flawed. Poor implementation hampers both the environments and their ghostly inhabitants and the game relies on predictable scares that become corny after a while. While cautiously stepping your way through dark environments with your phone’s display as the only light source can be riveting at first, the maze-like layouts quickly become a grind. The main design was clearly constructed as a way to make the player pay very close attention to every square inch of Daylight's maze-like environments, making that player an easier target for scaring. But when the scares subside, you find yourself caught in a loop of backtracking looking for clues you may have missed.
As you discover more remnants, you'll begin filling up a threat meter, which determines how frequently you're attacked by an apparition, a shrieking, ghost woman who serves as the game's main source of scares. Apparently the ghost lady doesn’t like Sarah getting too close to uncovering the truth, hence her making an appearance when the aforementioned meter fills up. Her entrances can definitely be startling, but as you progress further into the game (it took me roughly 2 hours to complete), her presence becomes less menacing. Hang around her too long and she’ll drain the life from you, forcing you to start collecting the remnants all over again. She can be temporarily burned away with limited, collectible flares, but simply running away for a bit is pretty effective too.
The XXL Endgame
Daylight was admirable in what it tried to do, but failed to inject life into the survival horror genre. While there are a few scares and the mechanical design was a noble attempt, it’s far too reliant on a single trick for players to be truly unnerved.—written by DJRhude (@DJRhude)
XXL Rating: M (average)
Daylight was reviewed for the PC