Review by Josh Turner
+ Legitimately freaky.
+ No two games are the same.
– Major framerate issues.
– Extremely long load times.
– Very short game.
– Ghosts can be easily fooled/avoided.
We live in an age where smart phones are an extension of our being. You have an app for finding food, love, hotels, movies, etc. You name it it’s always at your fingertips. So what if you where stuck in an abandoned hospital that’s haunted, and all you had with you was your smart phone?
That’s the core mechanic of Daylight, and it is an interesting enough primness to catch my attention, and keep a keen eye out for it’s release. So now that that day has finally come, how does it fare in a market that’s over saturated with survival horror titles?
Something you will notice about this game as soon as it boots up for the first time is the insanely long load times. Now granted, part of this is due to a system that they have in place where each time you start your game, it is a different unique world. (How unique I am not sure of, I only did one run through of this title) Still it is extremely painful to sit through a three minute load screen in today’s next gen world.
As the game opens, you awake on the floor of a abandoned hospital to a mans voice that is calling out to you through your cell phone. He speaks in short cryptic, nonsensical sentences. The message he is trying to relay to you quickly become clear. You are trapped, and there are malevolent spirits all around you that wants nothing more than to kill you.
Your only tool is your smart phone which you use as your flashlight, map, and connection to the outside world. One question I did have while I was playing through this title is why during any point of this game, did Sarah not try calling the cops… Or a priest for that matter. Besides this information, the rest of the story, or back story in all reality is told through notes found throughout the levels. This for the most part, makes it very difficult to follow the story seeing that unless you explore every inch of every level, you’ll never know the full story. Because there are some fairly large parts of the story that is touched on very little, or not at all. Also, even though this voice is directing, not at one point in the game does Sarah try to speak back to him, nor does he reveal any real information until the very end of this game.
Much like other very popular survival horror titles, Daylight features a system where you have no weapons, your only way to defend thy self if via flares that you find along your journey. These flares when activated will burn any spirit that is chasing after you, and will provide an extra amount of light to help you find your way through the maze. You can only hold four at a time, and they can be quite tricky to find for the most part so you do have to make sure that you use them only in situations where there is no way out.
Something I noticed however is that the spirits in this game are almost to easy to avoid, once you learn how too. I remembered from watching a trailer for this game, that it stated “Don’t look back or they’ll get you” now under a hypothetical, crazy, half brained idea. I decided to stop running from said ghosts, or using flares, but instead looking away from whichever way they were coming from, and attempting to pay them no mind. Turns out my plan works; nearly every time from that point out, unless I had to turn around or if one popped in front of me, I was able to avoid them altogether, and not die once.
Now granted, before I found this out I did have a few run in’s, nearly died, a yelped out loud a few times. This game does build quite the tense atmosphere for the most part, and if you do get jumped by ghosts, they are quite the hideous mothers. One of the things admittedly that built more tension for me is the fact that Sarah has a tendency to speak to these entity’s, which is breaking the number one rule of anything horror related. Never acknowledge the prescience of whatever is after you. However she thinks it’s a great idea to entertain this thing by speaking to it every few minutes, which leaves me sitting over hear screaming at my tv to shut up.
The overall goal of the game though feel stolen straight from Slenderman. Gather (x) amount of notes, which each note the spirits will more frequently pop up. You are gathering these notes however to unlock the sypher, which is a item associated with the past of the building, once you get said item you then proceed to the exit. Rinse, wash, repeat. For about three hours that is.
This game, even though entertaining is extremely short clocking in right around the three hour marker on normal difficultly. Gratefully this game is only $15, but still I do feel a little let down. With only four primary zones, (Hospital, sewer, forest, lobby) it feels like the game was very quickly thrown together.
The game is presented in one seamless fashion though which does make it feel more like one long level, or a movie for that fact. When you do move to different zones, it is very clear that the game is loading due to the amount of framerate lag there is. Overall this game runs around 50 frames at all points, but when you get into a new section get ready for it to drop down to the 20’s or less.
One of the things that is a real bummer about this game is how the levels are just so bland. They are you standard dark rooms that you would expect out of any survival horror game, not just in the aspect of rooms, but also every environment. Forest are a bland dark green, with creepy leafless trees. Hospital has a bunch of equipment thrown around, as well as flashing lights. Which really just gives you a feeling of, “been there, done that”
I can’t say to much for the characters animations, or how they look as they rarely spend anytime on the screen due to you either running, or burning them with flares. The little glimpses you do get of them is your average, Grudge esq scary lady with long black hair, and blacked eyes. The character themselves though are modeled nicely enough to be pleasant to the eyes, no matter how mortifying they look As for your character… Sarah does have some very manly, man hands; that much can be said
For the environments, as I noted before not only are they very run of the mill in design, but they tend to be very low resolution in animation. This is most notable in the forest level, as the trucks of the trees are extremely jagged, as the ground underneath is a very flat black and green. How this is designed to be a run on a PS4, and not a PS3, or even my Vita for that point is beyond me.
Lastly, something they did do right for the most, sound design. The oppressing prescience that is relayed throughout the levels is perfectly complimented by the heavy breathing of Sarah, as well of the whispers of the deceased constantly throughout the world. When you finally find the Sypher, the noises that it emits make you stop momentarily and question if this item is really here to save you, or bid you more harm.
Not going to lie. I was looking forward to this game, and once I got my hands on the finished product I was disappointed. Even before the game even truly started I was running into issues that made me question my purchase.
What could have been an interesting adventure falls short into the land of mediocrity. The inclusion of a mobile device like a cell phone could have brought a whole new way to make players interact with the environments they are in, yet they decided to play it safe and use it as a flashlight.
Even though this game does a good job at painting a brutal picture where it becomes exceedingly easy to become unnerved at, the faults in this game quickly catch up to it making it where the ghosts which at one point seemed to be the girl from The Ring, now seem like nothing else than Slimer from Ghostbusters.
For every one positive this game did like sound design, or atmosphere, there are double the negatives to be found.
I give Daylight for the PS4… A 5.5 out of 10.