key review info
- Game: Daylight
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
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Daylight is a first-person survival horror video game from Zombie Studios, that follows the new-school thinking that games in this genre are supposed to offer you thrills and not the opportunity to become John Rambo.
As such, you wake up in an abandoned hospital, with no recollection of how you got there, who you are, and with no weapons, your only companion being a mysterious voice that urges you on to discover the secrets of the hospital.
You step into the shoes of Sarah, the game's protagonist, and you start running around the dark halls, with only a cell phone to serve as illumination, exploring the decrepit institution's dark past and trying to find a way to escape.
To help in your efforts, you'll stumble across some glow sticks and flares, which aside from providing a valuable light source, also serve other purposes.
The green glow sticks cast their light on various objects of interest, allowing you to more thoroughly explore the derelict hospital, and the flares cast away the denizens of the shadows, saving you from the nefarious phantoms that roam the deserted hallways.
Also scattered all around the premises, you'll find various notes, photographs and newspaper clippings, all of them serving to reveal the mysterious story behind the hospital and the events that your are witnessing.
Your only companion in your effort to escape is an eerie voice that taunts and teases you while revealing information that does not make any sense in the beginning, until you start piecing the morsels you find lying about.
The tiny fragments will provide insight into the lives of those who dwelt within the facility, casting a shady light on the nature of the dark events you are experiencing and on the fate that befell the patients and the guards.
The game is quite short, and you most likely won't be able to fully understand everything that is happening from the first playthrough.
The nice thing about having to complete Daylight more than once in order to get the full story is that it has procedurally generated levels, so when engaging in subsequent playthroughs, it will feel familiar, but not exactly the same, and you won't start going into a rut, knowing all its passages and dark dead ends by heart.
The procedurally generated world creates a different environment every time, from the hospital's layout to your visions and the things you encounter in your perilous adventure. Which is good news, because there are a lot of clues for you to find, and they contribute to the eerie atmosphere, as well as giving you the peace of mind of having understood everything that is going on.
While the gameplay is simplistic, with you mostly running around, reading stuff and, from time to time, collecting some esoteric items that allow you to open doors and progress to a different section of the prison / hospital, the game does a very good job of conveying a convincingly horrific atmosphere.
The visuals are great, there's a lot of detail, a lot of debris in the abandoned facility, peeling paint and run-down furniture, blocked doors and sofas and desks piled up in order to restrict access to some areas. It all looks like a genuinely abandoned location, one where many dark deeds were performed and their remnants still linger, an ideal setting for such an adventure in the horror genre.
The graphics are very good, and having to switch between the three different light sources and having your camera wobble while running (and you'll do a lot of running, not just for the sake of saving time), casting disquieting shadows everywhere, will make you seriously consider investing in a proper high-power flashlight.
Your main antagonists will be darkness and the creepy noises of the building, but from time to time you'll come face to face with the ethereal inhabitants of the hospital, which you'll have to get rid of by lighting a flare, as light is the over-arching motive that offers you a hope of redemption.
Although there are a couple of cheap thrills to be had, with spirits spawning right behind you in the classical manner that most horror titles abuse, Daylight knows how to pace itself and build up tension before throwing a nightmarish vision or having a ghost actually go after you, not just disturb the environment enough to give you the creeps.
They'll usually sneak up on you from behind, causing you to make sharp turns every time you hear a weird noise, questioning whether you are hearing things of whether there is a genuine strange presence near you.
In addition to this, the constant pursuit of freedom builds up your hopes, and when you start gleaming rays of moonlight through the cracks in the walls of an underground tunnel, you will feel a genuine rush, a feeling that you are getting closer to your goal.
The sounds in the game are very well made and very fitting, contributing immensely to the immersive quality of the entire experience, which will constantly keep you on your toes.
- Gets horror right
- Procedurally generated
- Solid visuals and sounds
- Highly atmospheric
- Very short
- Somewhat limiting
While Daylight is a bit on the stereotypical side, with you running circles inside an asylum where the good doctor wasn't actually that good, and the dementia that the patients were experiencing was more than just a figment of their imagination, it does a good job in the presentation department.
From the eerie voice that haunts you from a time long past, to the cries and moans of the protagonist and the unsettling noises coming from the next room, making you dread going forward and having to open the door, all the little details come together to deliver an engaging experience that is guaranteed to offer you at least a couple of thrills.
It explores a darker style of gameplay experience and doesn't get lost in meaningless complications, offering a raw and visceral experience that is supported by a captivating storyline, offering a palpable reason for the preternatural encounters and ending in a twist.
It offers just enough to keep you interested, while not ruining or taking over the part your imagination plays in horror stories by parading embodiments of the grotesque around until they feel like adorable puppies.