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Daylight Review

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Feeling like the love-child between Slender and Outlast, ‘Daylight’, by the developers over at Zombie Studios, is a randomly generated horror experience that is never the same game twice, but is always terrifying no matter how many times you play.

Waking up inside a hospital with no memory of how she got there, you play as Sarah as she sets off to explore the facility and uncover it’s secrets guided only by a mysterious voice, and armed only with her phone. The game is played through a first person perspective, and Sarah’s phone is constantly in view and carried in her hand, allowing her to use it as both a torch and as a map. Sarah cannot attack as such, and has no real weapon to defend herself, with the player having to rely rather heavily on running away from any of the ‘shadow people’ enemies that she will encounter along the way. Glow sticks can be collected and using them not only allows for a greater area to be lit up, but also highlights areas of interested that may contain useful items. One such useful item is that of a flare, your only means of fending off your enemies. Both these items must be used sparingly however, as they are not easily found, resulting in a constant challenge for the player as they try to play without relying on them.

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Requiring you to pick up a set amount of ‘Remnants’ in order to progress further, these assorted documents, newspaper clippings, and notes breathe clarity into the narrative and are spread across each area, requiring a significant amount of exploring to collect. Each area asks for a certain amount to be collected, and once the requirement is fulfilled, this is where the player is given a choice: either take the areas ‘sigil’ and continue onto the next area, or stick around for much longer and uncover more remnants to better shed light on the narrative. To an extent, Daylight is a game that is only as scary as you make it. The more of these remnants that you collect, the higher the threat level becomes with ‘shadow people’ encounters becoming more frequent, more terrifying, and much more unpredictable. It’s a great element of risk and reward with the player’s constant battle between wanting to move on and avoiding getting more scared, and the encouragement to delve deeper into the narrative by collecting more. It really works nicely and helps to build up a huge amount of tension when you do decide to persist with further exploration. In such situations the atmosphere is thick, with everything turned up to max and it all feeling nothing short of horrifying. It takes some courage to continue exploring, but it’s a move that is incredibly fruitful for both those that are interested by the narrative, and those that relish the horror experience.

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Daylight is a scary game, there’s absolutely no denying it. The beauty with it is just how unpredictable it all is, with the levels changing for each playthrough, and even changing each time you get caught by the enemies. Never being able to tell what you are going to face next is incredibly unnerving, and the unpredictable behaviour of the enemy AI makes it even worse. With the constant escalation in threat the further you progress, you really start to fear anything and everything that you may come across. For the majority of the time you will find that the shadow people stalk you, lurking around you, waiting for the right moment to appear when you make a bad judgement, or find yourself in a closed environment. When you haven’t collected many remnants, the game relies on jump scares such as items falling over, things breaking etc. that tend to feel cheap and no way near match the quality of the other scares. Thankfully though during this less-threatening time, the audio design really takes centre stage with its creepy ambience and terrifying sound effects that really do a great job in punching life into each area. It all sounds great through speakers, but with headphones plugged in it sounds even better, being able to perfectly capture the depth and the many layers of the audio. Ultimately, the whole package comes together so nicely that it creates an atmosphere rich in tension and terror. Though the scares are satisfying, due to the randomly generated areas there is a distinct lack of heavily directed scares, ones that have been painstakingly crafted to produce a fantastic payoff at the end. This is shame, though the scares contained within the game are more than enough to scare you a lot, and have you jumping out of you chair.

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Being the first game to be released running off Unreal Engine 4, it comes to no surprise that the game looks great, with the engine’s powerful feature set being well utilised. Environments are moody, eerily lit, and each captures a distinct personality, despite some repetitious areas in only a few cases. Most importantly however, the various different areas feel threatening, often containing many tight passageways and very few properly lit areas, making even the most basic of rooms a place of terror. Despite each area being randomly generated, the areas still feel well constructed with a lot of considerations being made to add as much variety as possible while both scaring and confusing the player. Dead-ends are prevalent, tight and open spaces are mixed throughout, and there are multiple paths that lead elsewhere.

Most of the game takes place within interior environments across the hospital building with the player moving between hospital wards, offices, cell blocks, and a sewer system. Though these areas are similarly styled in their sizings and ideas, they at least manage to feel distinct from each other. Due to these similarities the game does start to feel a little repetitive and lacking in new ideas, but thankfully the latter half of the game places you in far more open environments that force you to change your approach to playing the game, and opens up for more unique scares, successfully picking the game back up again.

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A typical play through of Daylight will take 2-3 hours, and this feels like the perfect length for the game. Due to the repetitive objective of collecting remnants around each area, anymore length would have been detriment and highlighted the limited gameplay. The length however ultimately depends on how many remnants you decide to collect, and how much you may struggle. While this doesn’t sound like too much bang for your buck, the randomly generated levels ensures that each time you pick up the game you are guaranteed a different experience. The entire game was built around the idea of multiple playthroughs, and they have most certainly succeeded in this aspect, with each differing entirely from each other, resulting in a fresh set of scares.

Verdict

Daylight is terrifying. If you are looking out for a great new horror experience, you certainly can’t go wrong with this. Though the scares are similar throughout and there is no room for any heavily scripted sequences, this doesn’t tarnish the experience, and you will still find yourself nervously exploring each area, totally unknowing of what might come next over the 3 hour play time. While Daylights gameplay offering isn’t particularly original, the real star here is the game world, a creepy, often terrifying place that delivers on producing randomly generated environments that differ each time you play. Lending itself perfectly to countless replays that feel fresh each time, avid horror lovers will certainly find themselves playing through the game multiple times for both the fun of it, and also to uncover the whole story.

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Positives:

  • Intriguing narrative will keep you interested through multiple playthroughs.
  • It’s a terrifying and very tense experience throughout.
  • Great graphics.
  • Fantastic and incredibly atmospheric audio design.
  • Randomly generated levels offer plenty of variety.

Negatives:

  • The randomly generated nature of each level results in a lack of heavily directed scares.
  • Performing the same objective starts to become repetitive towards the end.
  • Little too many cheap jump scares.

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Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.

Rating:
4/5
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