|Platform||PS4, PC, iOS|
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This very Western survival-horror entry from Zombie Studios (Saw, Blackwater) isn’t exactly what you’d expect from Atlus, home of the nichiest of Japanese role-playing titles. But this Unreal 4–powered first-person freak show coming to the PS4 and PC early next year has an even bigger shocker behind the curtain: Its harrowing tale of a woman trapped in the bowels of a mental hospital is actually penned by IGN host—and notorious PSP-licker— Jessica Chobot. And if that’s not enough, she also voices the protagonist.
Let’s start with the obvious: Jessica Chobot cannot act. That’s not an insult, either. George R. R. Martin’s a great writer, but does anyone want to see him starring in Game of Thrones? From the moment I heard her robotically intone, “Where…am…I?” I wondered why Zombie couldn’t have gotten a professional voice actress who actually knows how to impart the emotion of fear to players.
Chobot apparently wrote the story while she was pregnant, and it shows; the horror seems weirdly specific to her personal fears. I ran across a couple of haunted artifacts that were ostensibly supposed to induce chills—but a levitating baby bottle and hairbrush simply don’t make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. What’s more, the ghosts on display here—foes you can’t defeat, but can only ward off with items such as flares—are designed to resemble eye floaters, of all things. Again, why so specific? I mean, I’ve been baffled by eye floaters since I was 6 years old, but frightened of them? Not once.
I do like Daylight‘s premise, though. It’s a bite-sized downloadable adventure meant to be completed in around 45 minutes, and it has one simple goal: Find daylight before your mobile phone runs out of power and you’re enveloped in darkness. And, since the map is procedurally generated, it’s a different challenge every time. But with such a distracting protagonist and unnecessarily cumbersome controls, will players want to put up with this for 45 minutes at a time? At this point, I don’t think so.