Daylight Review (PS4)
I’ve been anticipating the release of Daylight since the day it was officially unveiled. I have a soft spot in my gaming hearts for first-person horror, no matter how saturated that market may be at the moment. I especially love a good haunting; the thought of a ghost zipping at me down a dark corridor makes me happy in odd places. Daylight did not disappoint. However, it did not set itself apart either.
You start off Daylight like most horror games in today’s gaming world, with little to no back story, a simple light to guide you, and plenty of darkness for eerie beings to lurk within. That’s what makes games like this so fun though, isn’t it? The setting is everything in a horror game and Daylight has that in spades. The creepy environment is the first thing players will notice when their cellphone light flicks on for the first time. Everything is decaying, the paint is chipping off the walls, the glass in the doors is broken and lying on the floor before you, and the refuge of a world long forgotten lay scattered about the hallways of the hospital. This is a world I can immerse myself in, I can lose myself for hours at a time and not look back.
The player will take on the role of Sarah; I had to Google her name because I didn’t know it during my entire playthrough. The story of why she was in this haunted hospital and her cohort speaking to her were lost on me. They came off as boring and could not keep my attention whatsoever. I did not care, pure and simple. I was there for the horror and the jump-scares. A story should make me care about the characters and their tale of woes, Daylight did not. The story was felt like it was merely there because people expected it to be, like an after thought, not as a focal point.
A horror game can’t be scary without something to terrify the player. Thankfully, Daylight has some creepy baddies that enjoy popping up in the hallway ahead of you, just within your sight. You’ll be slinking down a hall, your light dimly illuminating the way forward, and then it will appear. You’ll notice your phone messing up at first, a slight flicker oh the screen. That’s how you know something is coming and it won’t be good. Then she appears, an older ghost of a woman, haunting the halls of the hospital forever.
The gameplay in Daylight follows the same simple principle of games such as Slender: Eight Pages. You pick up a variety of objects in order to continue further and complete the game. These objects take the form of red-lit pages stuck to the walls of the game, which allow you through the mystical, glowing portal to the next area. It’s basically a big fetch quest.
Controlling Sarah was a little odd, she moved quite weird. It wasn’t horrible, but it just didn’t feel right either, almost like she was limping along. I understand someone in that situation may be scared and wary of moving forward deeper into the hell of a haunted building, but damn.
I experienced a little frame drop while playing Daylight, it wasn’t horrible, but it was noticeable, especially in the beginning. Moving along the first set of stairs into the intro area and the game began to chug along at an incredibly slow pace for a moment before returning to normal. I experienced this issue once or twice in that area alone. After moving deeper into the game, however, the issue became less and less common.
Graphically, Daylight is a nice game, I won’t say overly beautiful because it’s mostly dark and dreary, but it is nice for a horror title. It’s the little things that count in a game where immersion is the whole point. The look of the cracked wallpaper and peeling paint, the broken glass scattering the hallway, the flooded basement. These aesthetics make for a nice experience, it helps put you into the world, which is something I can get behind.
Developer Zombie Studios wanted to ensure the control scheme was easy enough to pick up and play and intuitive enough for players to experience the terror in Daylight. They’ve succeeded; the controls on the PlayStation 4 version of the game were simple. Running, picking up objects, opening doors, and utilizing the various light sources was easy enough to master within the first few minutes of the game. This allowed me to continue forward without the worry of having to check the control setup in the menu.
Overall, Daylight is quirky, it’s lacking on any real, engaging story and its formulaic gameplay is nothing new in the horror genre. But it makes up for all those shortcomings with its atmosphere, the tense scares that occur in the darkened halls, and the simplified process that it brings to the table. This is not a game for everyone; many may find it unappealing, while those looking for a quick thrill ride will find something to enjoy here.
HUGE THANKS TO DEVELOPER ZOMBIE STUDIOS FOR THE REVIEW COPY