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Daylight, a new horror game by Zombie Studios, is set to release tomorrow on Steam and PS4. I’ve had a chance to sit down and play quite a bit of it, and here are some of the early impressions I got from it.
Daylight is billed as a randomly generated horror game using the new Unreal Engine 4. The draw is easy to see: in theory, it lets you create a house of horrors where the scares can come from anywhere, at any time. In practice, all it seems to do here is create a confusing labyrinth of similar looking hallways. While I liked the idea at first, Zombie Studios doesn’t use it to great effect.
The premise of the game is simple: try to find scattered notes around the environment. Once you have found them all, a “sigil” will appear somewhere in the level that acts as a key through the last door. Along the way, various scares try to take you out of your element. You are dropped in with little explanation who you are or what you are supposed to do, and the confusing (and bland) environment doesn’t exactly beckon you to explore it. Everything in the presentation, from menus to in-game notes to the voice acting, feels like a holdover from the previous generation, and rarely lead to me feeling scared.
I say rarely, because I did encounter a few cool moments. In my time with it, Daylight wasn’t afraid of using the occasional jump scare, even if most of them fell flat. The bloody witch chasing you may get you the first few times, but after spending twenty minutes scouring the environment for your last “remnant”, she is much more annoying than frightening…especially when you factor in the lack of in-level saving or checkpoints.
Considering you only have glow sticks and flares to work with, you spend much of your time running from the spirits after you. The onscreen map is hard to read while standing still, and becomes basically unusable while moving. You certainly won’t find many clues in the environment to help you out, as one room very literally looks just like the next…and the next…and the next. I’m sure that someone will nail the design of a randomly generated, genuinely scary game, but I don’t think that time has arrived just yet.
I came in with very high hopes, and perhaps the full release can right the ship, but so far this game invokes the wrong kind of horror. Keep an eye out here at Leviathyn for the full review in the coming days.