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Daylight: next-gen survival-horror?

By Darren Price, Thu 1 May 2014
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Pitched in the press release as a procedurally generated survival horror game, I couldn’t resist putting my hand up to take look at Daylight on PC.

It was probably not a good idea, as I’m still getting the night terrors after only scratching the surface of the strangely similar Outlast. Like Outlast, Daylight has you wandering around an old hospital.

Unlike Outlast, Daylight just has you wake up, with no clues as to how you got there. It's just you and the light from your mobile phone.

Playing as Sarah - a woman with a secret if there ever was one, you must navigate through the labyrinthine game-world with only the occasional guidance from a mysterious voice on the telephone.

The same phone lights your way ahead, but for a better look, you can also use glow-sticks to illuminate your surrounds and discover more clues as to what exactly is going on. By collecting items that were once important to you, Sarah can unlock each level and move onto the next.

As you’d expect, you are not exactly alone, with the game doing its best to scare you; first with items moving by themselves and progressing to ghostly apparitions coming after you.

The game creates the procedurally-generated environment on the fly; meaning a different floor plan each time. I’d like to say that it is a new experience with every play-though, but it isn’t. Whilst the layout may be different each time, the levels are painfully similar- with generic components just interlocked in different orders.

Daylight runs on Epic’s Unreal 4 engine, however, I can’t really say that it makes terribly good use of what should be a very capable graphics engine. Daylight looks OK, but that’s about it.

Scary creature

The PC version does have a Real3D mode which I couldn’t wait to try. For the most part wandering the halls and corridors looks pretty good in 3D. I paused for a moment to just watch some ripped ceiling paper fluttering in the breeze as it hung down towards me. I felt as if I could reach out and touch it. Sad, but true.

Unfortunately, it seems that nobody actually tested the game in 3D as there are some massive stereoscopic fails that really should’ve been sorted out before release. Markings on the walls and floors stick out and some of it seems to go into the floor. The result is a pair of eyes battling to find a focal point. Cue the headache.

And it’s a shame. Because in a game whereby exploring and finding stuff is a big part of the proceedings, the ability to notice things standing out it the 3D environment adds an extra layer to the game.

Daylight is an intriguing yet simple idea executed by a very small group of developers. Whilst I take my hat off to them for producing an interesting game, even at the bargain US$15 asking price it’s only just worth the price of admission.

Daylight is out now on PC and PlayStation 4.


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