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REVIEW | Daylight: Infinite Scares Or Just Infinite Hallways?

By
Posted on May 24, 2014 AT 09:41am

Setting some lofty expectations for itself, Daylight proclaimed to be a procedurally generated horror game. This feature, developer Zombie Studios claimed, would keep this game fresh and scary longer than any other horror game around. There are certainly parts of this game that can rightly claim to be procedurally generated, but I found myself asking whether it was enough to really keep me coming back for more scares.

Waking up in a seemingly abandoned mental hospital, our protagonist Sarah must maneuver through the labyrinthian environments using a phone-like device as a map. This, along with an array of notes you find throughout each level is all the story you’re going to get from this game. It does find a way to resolve itself by the end, in a way I won’t reveal here, but it certainly doesn’t break any new ground on that front.

The gameplay borrows heavily from two other recent horror games: Slender: The Eight Pages and Outlast. There are certain sections which have you wandering around an environment looking for a particular number of pieces of paper, some of which are nailed to a wall. If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably played Slender before. At a point towards the end of the game when you emerge into a forrest, it became even more on the nose and I just had to chuckle.

For the remainder of the game, you are wandering through the environments using the light of glow-sticks to find secrets and flares to protect yourself. This idea of using light also gave me a kind of Outlast vibe, though the idea of it revealing secrets was a nice addition and they weren’t exactly required to traverse each level. Occasionally, once you picked up a few of the notes lying around, you would be attacked by witches. This was normally signaled by static appearing on your phone. This is when you would use your trusty flares, which would make them disappear instantly.

All in all, I actually enjoyed my time with the game. It was the right length for what it had to offer, about 2.5 hours, and didn’t feel like it overstayed its welcome. My problem comes with the idea that it should have infinite replay value because of the procedural generation concept. This would make a lot of sense, but the only thing that is actually generated, as far as I can tell, are the map layouts. While there are a few random scares during these sections, and the witches can certainly catch you off guard from time to time, it didn’t give me the feeling that I could come back infinitely. The sections in-between the random maps are always the same and you always visit the maps in the same order. I understand it would have been more difficult to randomize those aspects, but it seems like that could have pushed it towards being more re-playable. Even possibly t=making it a bit shorter and only including a few of the maps would at least give you the thrill of seeing where you’ll end up in each play through.

This is not to say that the game didn’t scare me. I actually yelped once or twice while playing when I turned around to have a witch staring me right in the face. The visuals actually looked decent on the PS4 and the controls felt pretty natural. It was a very good length for what the whole product was and I didn’t get frustrated or bored before the end of the campaign. Frankly, I just found myself wishing that the game had either been more or less random the entire time. It seems like it got stuck in-between and couldn’t commit to either side which left me feeling disappointed with their claim.

If you like horror and want something scary that you can hand off between friends, this would be a good thing to consider. For my money though, if you’re just looking to scare yourself, I’d just go with Outlast and a pair of adult diapers.

Final Score: 7.5 (out of ten)





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