Daylight has a few tricks up its ghost infested corridors, that that can leave an amateur horror survivor, like myself, guessing on a regular basis. Bringing a few layers to the horror survival genre, Daylight encourages the player to think carefully about their approach to escaping the labyrinth, with multiple objectives to figure out and solve before before finding the exit.
Waking up in an abandoned hospital, you take on the role of Sarah, a woman who for some reason has been drawn to a ridiculously creepy location. Upon gaining consciousness, a mysterious and untrustworthy voice starts talking to you, and basically breaks down what you will have to do. Sarah is forced to traipse her way through various scary locations so that she can figure out the secrets of each place.
The interface of Daylight is quite well implemented, with your phone acting as a minimap and a light source that you hold in your hand, and various small icons dotted across the bottom of your screen. The HUD is out of the way and allows for more awareness of the screen, however you will always have your phone in your right hand, and very often you will be holding another item in the other. This may seem an odd point to pick up on, but on various pant-wettingly tense occasions, I found myself wishing I could run without holding my hands in front of my face.
Light sources are one of the game’s main mechanics. You always have your phone, but you can also carry four flares and four glowsticks. Flares are used as a safety precaution, making ghosts flee momentarily, the glowsticks are used to highlight secret pieces of furniture that hold clues to the games overall story. You can also find more glowsticks or flares, which trust me, you will always want to have a full stock of. The reason for all the chest and drawer searching is that you are looking for a sigil that acts as a key to the exit of that area. In fact the main mission in all the levels can be broken down to three main components. Though they can be done in any order really, the best bet would be to find the exit first, that way you know where you will have to run when you find the sigil, which of course is one of the other steps. The last is finding the clue to what the sigil is through searching for documents throughout the level.
With each area you visit, it becomes apparent that Sarah had something to do with the past of each location, with audio cues that appear to be in Sarah’s memories. Each of the new levels feel like they came straight out of Wes Cravens backlog of scary places, and you often feel claustrophobic when running through the multiple variations of corridor. Daylight would be near impossible without your minimap as each level is randomly generated, making it difficult to look up where to find the next sigil. Luckily, your phone will log all the important rooms and will highlight them on the minimap in some way. The issue is, once you have the sigil, you can no longer hold a flare or glowstick, as Sarah forgot to bring the infinite adventurers rucksack that so many other games rely on to carry the shed loads of gear you assemble. This means you will probably want to sprint as fast as you can through the scary maze to find your way back to the exit, as the ghost will no doubt be miffed about you picking up its precious sigil.
Even though I am not a massive survival horror player, I could still appreciate the little things that aided my playthrough. For example, when holding a glowstick, you can see your footsteps which could act as a breadcrumb trail should you get really confused, though I imagine most people would use the minimap. There were also signs that indicated a scare was on its way. Whether it be audio cues or static, it was always appreciated when I was warned that a ghost was gonna scare my hair off. However not all scares are presented in such a way, and you will find yourself forcing your heart back down your throat at least a couple of times per level.
The sound design in the game is close, yet not quite right. Often Sarah will shout out things like “I know you’re there” or “What was that?” when I was 99% sure there was nothing about. This feature is great though, as it makes you stop for a second to see what she can apparently sense. There are also background noises that will make you think that the ghost is on your tail.
Daylight certainly isn’t a bad game, it is constructed well and has some really nice little features that make it stand out against some of its competitors, but a lot of the mechanics seem recycled. That being said, there is only so many ways you can make someone run away from ghosts. The feature of using different light sources adds to the franticness of your escape attempt and your last flare going out leaves a deep and uncomfortable feeling of doubt in your belly. Doubt that you will escape, and doubt that you will want to play it again anytime soon. There are also features that appear rarely, the best example being the climb function. It gets used a few times throughout the game, but the splashscreen at the start that displays the controls made me think I would be able to climb all over the place in my feeble attempts to flee from the apparition that’s following me. The best and most exciting feature though, is the Twitch features. Livestreaming is a huge part of the gaming community these days, so Daylight has offered Twitch viewers a way to interact with the host. Trigger words can set off scares, allowing audiences to really get into the stream. If this trend continues, it could reshape the way we watch people play their games.
As far as horror games go, this one will definitely offer you a fair few jump scares, and the mechanic of searching for each of the clues to your escape adds more content and tension to your playthrough. This being said, it does feel very similar to many other horror games that have recently surfaced. The main thing that keeps Dayligh fresh is the random generation of the levels, and the use of light. As long as you try to keep a good supply of flares at all times, then you can breeze through the game quite quickly, however there is a story entwined into the mazes you are trying to escape, and though it is disturbing at many points, it is also satisfying to find all the clues to the mysteries. Once you have figured out the formula to the game it presents much less of a threat, but as mentioned before would still be able to catch you off guard with the random generation.
- Random map generation makes for an unpredictable experience
- The UI is intuitive and well Implemented
- Interesting story with ties to the gameplay
- Twitch features offer livestreaming interaction
- Easy formula to figure out
- Jumps scares are often predictable
- Recycled mechanics
- Audio cues can confuse, and often seem random