Daylight (PC) Review

By Gavin Proctor 29.05.2014 2

Review for Daylight on PC

Zombie Studios was onto a great recipe for success with Daylight - it had a fantastic technical team with a chance to use new technology to create an original horror I.P. and it is a shame that it all seems to have gone so wrong. Including the title, there isn't a single novel idea contained within; a series of tired tropes is crammed so hard into this very short game that players cannot get involved in the story or atmosphere at all. Somehow Zombie Studios has managed to avoid copyright violation and plagiarism by copying a bit of every single horror game ever made! The game also boasts of interactive Twitch controls for spectators to join in with the scares and procedurally generated levels to boost replay value, but neither of these things are likely to save Daylight.

It is impossible to write this review without comparison to the Slender and Amnesia games that became such great hits with streamers; it seems to be that Daylight owes huge amounts to these titles, but whilst they take gameplay ideas and scare tactics, they appear to have learned nothing about how to make a genuinely fear inducing experience. If the Twitch spectator controls, which add some more noises or lighting effects to a player's game, show anything it is the desperation with which Daylight tries to grab a piece of that pie rather than crafting a new experience for its own. The problem is that the big scares use such cheap tactics that most Twitch streams will just collapse into laughter from all participants.

Screenshot for Daylight on PC

Players will probably not develop any sympathy for the main character, with no FMV introduction or back-story of any kind, placed in the shoes of a hysterically frightened woman named by the narrator only as "Sarah." It is at this point that things are already sliding. For a game to develop atmosphere and tension, the player has to be able to assess the situation and then decide whether or not it frightens them, or at least have a contrast between what is and isn't meant to be scary. Daylight decides not to bother with the build-up and prefers to shout "this is supposed to be scary" right up close with a megaphone from the very beginning when the player character says aloud, "I'm so scared", with shaking hands and whimpering noises - it is obvious that this is off to a bad start.

It's hard not to ruin the game's finale in reviewing Daylight, especially considering that the ending is spoilt in the first line of the game's dialogue, as a disembodied English accent tells players that they have been here before with almost no ambiguity whatsoever; information that the game feels is good enough to warrant being the finale, as well as the opening. The narrator will continue to talk for the duration of the game, babbling eerie sounding nonsense in players' ears in a way that only manages to destroy any sense of engagement that might be left. In a genre where atmosphere and tension are the main aims, sound design is important, and Daylight, whilst having pretty good positional audio from a purely technical standpoint, isn't at all subtle with its chosen cacophony of sound effects.

Screenshot for Daylight on PC

The gameplay itself is simplistic at best, the aim being to collect 'remnants' or notes, turn them in to obtain a 'sigil' or key, and then open a door at the other end of the level. Notes can be found by using glow sticks that light up interactive objects and then players defend themselves with flares that dissolve the "shadow" that is giving chase. In every level there is a safe point that stores an infinite number of sticks and, deeper within the level, a flare dump, which stores an infinite number of flares, making management of the limited inventory very easy. Whilst collecting 'remnants,' the lead character's 'threat level' increases and 'shadow' attacks become more frequent in an attempt to build suspense, yet after collecting two or three fragments, it is best to whip out lit flares and become invincible, removing all sense of urgency. Upon collecting the key, the objective is to then run without flares to its corresponding door, which is supposed to be the most frightening part of the game, but get lucky with the level layouts and it's usually an uninterrupted sprint to the finish line, even on the hardest difficulty. To put it simply, Daylight feels like a chore; the gameplay fails to provide any level of fun and most may find themselves switching it off halfway through the first level.

Screenshot for Daylight on PC

Normally gamers will enjoy collecting scrapbooks of notes to build a solid picture or back-story, but in Daylight the notes are from such mixed sources - be it newspapers, hospital memos, staff notes or diary pages - and they are so jumbled and inconsistent that gamers will just stop caring, or maybe even not read them at all. Given that the entire plot of Daylight and the only exposition of story are these fragments, it is disappointing that such a useful game tool has been so poorly exploited and that no real investment has been made in the storyline department at all. This is partly linked to the procedural generation randomising what bits of story players collect, leading to there being no control at all over the pacing of the story.

The graphics are not terrible, but having made the choice to develop a game with the new Unreal Technology 4 engine, which runs on DX10, Zombie Studios decided to limit this game to PlayStation 4 and DX11 only PC users. It would be expected, then, that this game pushes the technical limits using the highest end DX11 tools to ensure a cutting edge release with great lighting and attention to detail. However, Daylight fails completely in this regard, providing a few options for 'Depth of Field' and 'fog' but nothing to warrant alienating such a massive sector of the gaming community. The player character controls the only source of dynamic lighting and every other light source is pre-programmed, which seems like a huge cop-out for this type of game. It cannot be stressed enough how insulting it is that this game has been released with such high system requirements and such basic use of the assets that force that hardware upon customers.

Screenshot for Daylight on PC

Cubed3 Rating

2/10
Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

Daylight is clearly more of a tech demonstration than a game, but it forgot to include any interesting uses of technology that couldn't - and haven't - already been done better on older software. As a one trick pony, if Daylight fails to scare players, then the monotonous and repeated palette of the game world itself will provide no joy to explorers, and the story will fail to grip those that like to engage with the narrative. If there is still any desire to experience the game, it would be recommended to simply watch a Twitch stream rather than paying for it!

Developer

Zombie

Publisher

Atlus

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  2/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Wow Smilie What a game to start with! Welcome to the team and thanks for doing this review. I think part of me was hoping it would be a good alternative to F.E.A.R. - sadly it appears not! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

If the "shadows" were even a tenth as well executed and scary as Alma then this game might have almost worked, but remember that Alma was a side-show to a fantastic game. I didn't want to mention the similarities between the two enemies out of respect for F.E.A.R. it's almost as if Daylight gets associated with it then the people that made this get a win out of it.

I hope I get a chance to do some more reviews and it's probably impossible that they will be as negative as this one. Thanks to the guys at Cubed3 for publishing this.

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