- Jump scares without any real substance behind them
- Jittery performance
There are some ideas that sound great on paper. Take, for example, Taco Bell breakfast. Sounds freaking awesome, but in reality you ended up with a soggy Waffle Taco that tasted like cardboard drenched in syrup. Daylight is kind of like that. The idea of a procedurally generated horror game that gives the player a different experience every playthrough sounds amazing… on paper.
Daylight is, as you’d expect, a procedurally generated horror game that recently released on the PC and Playstation 4. Developed by Zombie Studios and published by Atlus (on PS4) and Guy Studios (on PC), Daylight really sounds like an intriguing premise. Wandering the halls of a randomly generated hospital, following only the light of your camera or some glowsticks, it’ll be a unique experience every time you play it. Unfortunately, Daylight is not captivating nor fun to play. The enemies and jump scares become background noise by the end of the game, and Daylight never offers players the sense of desperation that makes horror games fun.
Players start off as Sarah, who wakes up in an abandoned hospital with a case of amnesia. Sarah is guided by a mysterious voice to discover the secrets of the hospital, so she sets off to explore the corridors of this asylum. It’s a fairly clichéd story by the end of Sarah’s little adventure, but if you take the time to read the documents and look at the photograph Sarah finds scattered throughout, it makes heightens the atmosphere.
The atmosphere is really Daylight’s biggest strength. Sarah goes through several environments including a hospital, prison, sewer, and finally a forest. These areas are all randomly generated to an extent, with different hallways and rooms littered with run-down furniture. The forest area in particular is the best of the bunch, as you’re not limited to corridors. There’s not much character development, but it is genuinely creepy to walk through a dark hallway and see movement out of the corner of your eye. Daylight’s events are randomized as well, so it’s impossible to know when something will run by you, pop their head out, or scream. In that sense, Daylight succeeds at it’s goal of having a different experience with each playthrough.
Unfortunately, Sarah’s objectives are far less captivating and always consist of collecting “remnants,” or logs and documents from the hospitals past. After you collect a certain amount, you’ll have to find the “Sigil,” or what amounts to a key. After finding the sigil, it can be used to open the “Seal of Shadows,” or a locked door that will take you to the next area in the game. That’s it. 90% of Daylight consists of running through hallways looking for remnants so you can open a door, and the other 10% consists of looking at the map on your phone to make sure you didn’t miss any pathways. To add to the repetitive nature of the objective, the remnants are usually in one of two places: pinned on the wall or in some sort of box or filing cabinet. This doesn’t make for a very engaging experience when Sarah spends all of her time running through hallways, opening boxes, and being assaulted by ghosts.
Let’s talk about the enemies for a minute. As you wander through the hospital grounds, you’ll be assaulted by witches, or ghosts. The problem with these enemies is how generic and unthreatening they are. Rather than having enemies that gouge out your eyes, the witches of Daylight pop-out and scream at you, and then don’t even give chase after Sarah high-tails it out of there. They can be killed with flares, and fortunately for Sarah there are flares everywhere.
It took me just under two hours to finish Daylight. There’s really not that much content here, and I bet subsequent runs will only get faster. Don’t get me wrong, Daylight is marketed to be replayed but the problem is the fundamental game is still the same. Sure, the map will be different but you’re doing the same thing as last time: wandering aimlessly to find remnants. It’s just not a fun game to replay over and over.
In terms of visuals, Daylight looks good enough to set the mood. Shadows and lighting are impressive, but I experienced some framerate issues when I played through on the PS4. It’s particularly bad in the forest area where the framerate was very unstable and distracting.
Buy, Try, or Avoid?
I simply cannot recommend Daylight. The game is short, a grind, and not thrilling enough to warrant a playthrough. The randomly generated environments are a novel idea, but it doesn’t change the fact that Daylight is essentially a two hour fetch quest. As I said before, there are some things that sound good on paper, but in reality they do not work as well as expected.