Daylight is a new name to the survival horror genre, but does it compare to legendary franchises like Resident Evil and Silent Hill? 411's Gavin Napier aims to find out!
Developer: Zombie Studios
Genre: Survival Horror
Rated: M for Mature
I'm partly envious of modern game designers, and partly sympathetic to their plight. You see, it may be true that they have resources at their disposal that no generation of designers ever has. The freedom they have graphically (among other things) allows them to tell stories in a way that simply hasn't been possible in previous generations. At the same time, the limitations forced upon designers over the last quarter century forced them to be smarter with their games. It's easy to rely on simple technological power to make a game now, while creativity can lack. Thankfully, there have been franchises that have pushed limits creatively in recent years. Shadow of the Colossus, for example. Uncharted and God of War both make use of platforming and puzzles in ways that make the franchises greater than the sum of their parts.
The point of this rambling interlude to begin a review is to draw specific attention to the survival horror genre. From the grandaddy of 'em all, Sweet Home, through landmark franchises such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, andAlone in the Dark, the survival horror genre has been remarkably strong. Puzzles and scares come in equal doses, largely from Japanese studios. It's important to note that there is a stark difference in American and Japanese horror. Japanese horror tends to gravitate towards psychological disturbance - The Ring, for example - while American horror relies on loud noises and gore. Think the "Friday the 13th" franchise.
Daylight comes from an American studio. Zombie Games, based out of Seattle, Washington, has been around for two decades. Their claims to fame are multiple installations of both the Spec Ops and Saw franchises. Saw in particular was better than it had a right to be. My curiosity going into the game was whether or not Daylight would be able to set itself apart from previous survival horror franchises and the tropes that come with them, or if it would fall flat as a bad copy of the best the genre has to offer.
The game is ambitious, providing a constantly changing world to roam about in. The setting is an abandoned hospital, but this is just the coat of paint that's been slapped onto a maze. I don't say that with any disdain. Few things are as unsettling in life as being unable to retrace your own steps. No matter how many times Daylight is played, it will offer a new experience. Daylight scores points for that. The developers were also very ambitious about the types of scares that they included.
Instead of events triggered by landmarks in the game like the infamous (and scary as hell) dogs jumping through the window in the hallway of the original Resident Evil, Daylight goes with procedurally generated scares. What does that mean? In theory, it means that tension builds as you play, and eventually you get a payoff when you presumably least expect it. In reality, the tension builds and then passes pretty quickly. The game is more about figuring out the maze than about surviving or horror.
On the PS4, the game got a little buggy. Movements weren't particularly smooth at times and loading caused a bit of a lag. As relatively small as the game is, that's not a good thing. The release date was pushed back once to make the game "scarier" but I would greatly prefer adjusted release dates make a game "better." There's room for Daylight to grow, or at least to serve as a blueprint for the next evolution of horror games. This iteration simply fell a little flat.
The old saying goes, "Shoot for the moon; if you miss you'll be among the stars." Daylight is an example of how missing the moon can simply leave you drifting in the cold, empty void of outer space. It's not a terrible game, but it's not one that I'm anxious to play through again.
I've seen worse on current gen systems, but I've seen much better.
The majority of the game is based on moving around, and there are times when that doesn't work very well.
They tried to be creepy. I'll give them some credit for effort.
I'll play through it again eventually, after a long break.
It's short, but if you're into games with mazes, it's certainly not terrible. Just a mediocre game overall.