As a kid, I was terrified of movies like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm street. Then I realized that no matter how many times I watched either movie, monsters like Freddy and Jason would always do the exact same thing, so there was no need to be afraid of what I already knew. That's why the idea of Zombie Studios' procedurally generated suspense game Daylight is so interesting; it challenges the very idea of horror games as we know them and tries to do something very daring. Unfortunately all of that potential is squandered away by boring gameplay, an unoriginal story and a slew of technical problems. Daylight may have a great premise but it does almost nothing with it.
"There's almost nothing original about Daylight..."
You play as Sarah, a woman who wakes up in a spooky hospital. With nothing but your cell-phone, (complete with creepy narrator on the other end) it's up to you to navigate the creepy corridors and find newspaper clippings and notes to unravel the mystery of the hospital. Sound familiar? It should, because it's the story for nearly every horror game that's come out in the last ten-years. There's almost nothing original about Daylight and it borrows unapologetically from a genre that's already growing stale.
What's worse is that Daylight does almost nothing with the story it presents. You're spending an whole lot of time collecting these notes and clippings and if you're paying attention to them, they hint at an interesting story but unfortunately it's all but abandoned throughout the course of the game. Not only does it make a lot of the game feel unfinished, it also brings to light a rather unfortunate truth – you're wasting a lot of time in Daylight doing trivial things that don't matter at all.
That's all more forgivable if the game actually delivers on the promise of being scary though right? Unfortunately Daylight fails to deliver even on this. It plays the part well, and send you down creepy corridors with supernatural elements thrown in, but its all so hackneyed and predictable that even the unscripted nature of the game can't help it. There were a few moments that had some genuine thrills to them, but they're so few and far between, lost in a mix of terribly created maps and unremarkable set piece moments.
"...struggling to care about what happens in the game..."
As you get further into the game the enemies will get tougher and you'll have to use split-second jerk reactions to be successful but even then I found myself struggling to care about what happens in the game and to Sarah since Zombie Studios failed to make anything even remotely interesting. She wasn't a character I cared about, she was just a girl running around a hallway using glowsticks.
Daylight is also marred by a slew of technical problems that all but bring the game to a grinding halt. During my time with both the PC and PS4 versions of the game I experienced heavy lag and some pretty obvious glitches that prevented me from going any further in the game unless I restarted my last save. It's interesting that these glitches happened even on a higher end PC/next-gen console since the graphics were so subpar to begin with.
With Daylight, Zombie Studios had the potential for a real sleeper hit, but it's squandered away by technical issues and boring gameplay. You'll spend more time running through hallways in the dark and finding notes left on the walls to read than actual enjoying any of the real scares that are hidden in the later portion of the game. Daylight is nothing but a disappointment and wasted potential.
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