The battery’s almost dead.
I like a good horror game, always have. Fatal Frame and Resident Evil were always my forte, and with newer games like Amnesia and Outlast still bringing the scares, it is a pretty good time to be a horror game player. These are part of a new generation of horror that has slowly changed the way the genre plays. Daylight is another one in this new generation that tries to change up the formula while taking cues from a few other games in the genre.
To begin, Daylight has a pretty standard set up – the playable character is defenseless with the exception of one dispelling attack, using flares to scare away ghosts. She uses the flash on her smart phone to light her way while navigating corridors of a hospital, underground sewers, and a dark forest. Infected by some type of curse, she must uncover what has happened in this area and unlock doors with special “keys” in order to progress, all the while trying not to get her life sucked out of her from the evil spirits that haunt the hospital and grounds.
There’s something behind me, isn’t there?
The models of the ghosts themselves are well done. They have a creepy hollowness to their faces and when getting closer to the player, begin to distort and twist as they loudly scream. I’m not going to lie, these things did make me jump on numerous occasions. The way they follow the player creates tension, and as the trailer suggested, “Don’t look back” is some of the best advice I could take.
Since she is using her cell phone for a flashlight, she can keep up a map on her phone’s screen that fills in when discovering new areas. This comes in handy when trying to make it to the locked door after finding the key. Of course, running will make it more difficult to see the map due to her swinging her arms.
The game uses procedurally generated levels, meaning the corridors I experienced in my first play though will be different my second play through. This can also lead to some errors in design. Multiple times I saw the same environmental scares within 20 seconds of each other. When a game is trying to be scary and it uses the same tactics over and over, it loses its scare factor. This also lead to constant dead ends where I then had to trek back through long hallways full of nothing.
I know this song and dance.
Daylight is a very structured game. Aside from the forest in the final act, players will soon see patterns on what areas are and what is needed to be done. There’s always a safe zone where they can stock up on flares and glow sticks, there’s always remnants to collect that unlock the key, and there’s always a spiritually locked door for that key. After doing this procedure twice, I started to feel like the structure was too planned out. Granted, the forest was where the game opened up a good deal, but this only lasts maybe 45 minutes before the credits roll.
Since this is a fast paced horror game, players will find themselves running most of the time. This leads to a rather short experience. The average player can complete Daylight in about three hours, give or take how much they want to uncover and find. This then raises the question that since the areas are randomly generated, can it be enjoyed more than once? Not really. Unfortunately, since the game play never deviates, once I experienced the full game, I was pretty much done.
Daylight is somewhat of a strange title. It has the makings of a great horror game with its art design and world, but the game play revolves around too many of the same mechanics while the procedurally generated levels offer up more missteps than different experiences. Don’t get me wrong, it is a rather creepy game and it can still frighten even the boldest of players, but in the end, it is a single play through game that lasts four hours at the most.