You know how it is, one creepy horror game set in an abandoned location comes out, then others follow! You’d be forgiven for believing that Daylight is a me too type game after the success of Outlast on PC and PS4, after all, from the outside it does look very similar, but it is actually quite different.
Daylight begins with very little set, dropping you to an environment with no knowledge as to what you are there for, or what you are meant to even be doing. You are basically told “here is a device, use it to follow a map and to light the way” and that is it. So you do what come naturally and start to move.
It is only as you start moving around the environment that the story starts to unfold bit by bit, but never actually giving you an outright reason as to why you are where you are, or why you are in this position. It drip feeds you little snippets of information, via clues left around the building and the creepy voice that guides you.
It is a very interesting concept, that uses the idea of the unknown to completely unsettle you and because it is so miserly with the information and back story, you find yourself creeping around, literally not knowing what is around the next corner, or through the next door.
Part of this, it that the world is procedurally generated, which means even if you go back for another play through, you won’t know what is coming. It isn’t a new idea and there are plenty of games that do that sort of thing, but in a game where you want to keep the player right on the edge, it works exceptionally well.
And it does keep you on edge, played in the dark, with headphones on the atmosphere created is one of the most creepiest you will find. This is largely in part to the sound design, as you hear footsteps, wails, voices and more throughout your stay. It doesn’t matter who you are, if played in the right environment, it is hard not to be drawn in and feel completely uneasy as you play.
If you decide to play using PS4’s streaming services, then this is one of those games that has the interactive parts almost spot on. Anyone watching can type in certain key phrases to the streaming chat window, that will have an automatic effect on the game. Such as if someone types the word ‘feet’ you will start to hear footsteps. The idea is to allow those watching to try and make your experience all the more harrowing. The issue here, is that being a single player game, it can soon become tiresome when you have a crowd of people doing the same thing over and over, to the point where you switch off the interactivity and play it without.
Essentially in Daylight you are trying to survive and escape and unlike other survival horror games, you have no weapons whatsoever, leaving totally exposed to the dangers around. The most you have are some flares, which can warn off the bad entities which stalk you and is a really interesting concept and one that deserves to be explored further in the genre. Just knowing that at best you can put off the inevitable, rather than battle it really does change the fear factor.
Daylight also takes its cues from Dungeon Crawler type games, as you only start to unveil more of the map as you move further into the game. Going through a set of doors, or down a new hallway will then reveal where you are, only when you have hit a dead end, will that be marked on the map. The game forces you to explore and has a genuine sense of feeling lost and helpless. For the most part hearing the noise around you but never quite knowing from where or whom they are coming from really adds to that sense of fear also.
There are puzzles of sorts in certain areas, which mainly consist of using your glow-sticks to uncover clues, or find items that can be used to get to new areas, or be taken to places to unlock new areas, nothing that is really complex and designed mainly to get you moving and push you in the direction the game wants you to go.
The game is short too, as it can be finished in 2-3 hours for the most part, with the idea being that you’d go back and play numerous times. The issue here, is that unless you are a trophy hunter, there really isn’t any real need to go back it is a game that blows its load on that initial run. The scares only work the first time and all the effects that draw you in become tiresome on another play through. That is fine though, as it is a cheap price and there is nothing wrong with short games as long as they offer up an experience.
With the procedural generation of levels the idea is that you would want to go back time and time again, knowing that every new game will be different and the concept is a sound one, but as mentioned above, despite never knowing what is around the corner, the fact you finished it once, means that all that atmosphere, the scare tactics and even the story lose their edge on a second and third attempt. Which is a shame, but don’t let that take away from the first go though, as that is where Daylight is at its best.
Daylight does offer an experience and just about doesn’t outstay its welcome, it offers a ton of atmosphere and a feeling of helplessness that other games in the genre have been unable to do. A far from essential purchase, but one that will keep you entertained for an evening alone.