We’ve been cautiously optimistic about Daylight, Zombie Studios’ new Unreal Engine 4 –powered new survival horror. Just about everything in the game, save from its plot and characters, is procedurally generated, which would make the game nearly infinitely replayable. If it didn’t suck.
Review of the game have been pouring out slowly, and it seems that the Jessica Chobot-penned game isn’t quite as scary or entertaining as we’d hoped. Still, its premise is interesting, even if its actual setting is a tad cliché.
It’s all about a woman named Sarah who regains consciousness in an abandoned hospital with no memory of how she got there, and some voices that may or may not be in her head telling her to uncover the hospital’s secrets. Armed with little more than a cellphone with limitless battery power and some glowsticks, Sarah wonders around like a terrified 90’s raver.
Here’s what critics have to say about the game.
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.
Daylight makes for an interesting experiment in audience participation, but no crowd of online viewers can make the poor writing any better or the themes any less hackneyed. In creating a game designed for return visits, Zombie Studios ironically forgot to make a game worth playing in the first place.
Daylight is a mess. Its procedurally generated design doesn’t succeed in creating unpredictable scares, and the enemies that populate the spooky locales prove to be more annoying than frightening. The randomized levels offer a slightly different experience if you take a second trip through, but you’ll have seen just about everything Daylight has to offer after only a couple hours of play–which, regrettably, isn’t much.
Daylight has a good foundation of scary atmosphere and interesting bits of story. All of that is squandered by the first half, where poor level design, unnecessary box-pushing puzzles, and impotent enemies deflate the scares before it even gets going. By the time I reached the more interesting second act, I’d grown immune to its tricks and could only see it as a mediocre series of fetch quests.
I would be lying if I said Daylight didn’t scare me, because it did, and often. It’s kind of fascinating to see how much of its mechanical design was crafted in the interest of eliciting an emotional response from the player; all the theory and psychology behind its scares. But those moments of fear and panic were just that — moments — amid a whole campaign of boredom and frustration.
Looking for scares? Mayhaps you should look elsewhere. The game’s out on PC and PS4 today.
Last Updated: April 29, 2014