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Daylight Review

Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Zombie Studios
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
April 29, 2014

To create an effective horror experience, the developer must generate a believable, freaky atmosphere in which the player quickly becomes immersed. It’s all about the atmosphere and ambiance. It’s the sound in the darkness you can’t identify, it’s the creeping, terrifying sensation that something is stalking you, it’s the feeling you get when you’re hopelessly outmatched. Whatever is out there, it wants you dead, and you can’t stop it. This is a driving theme behind previous successes like Outlast .

Unfortunately, the same attempt falls flat on its face in Daylight .

One of the first games to take advantage of the new Unreal Engine 4, the game doesn’t look too bad. Strangely, though, it doesn’t look good, either. You won’t be impressed with the detail and design, and there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the special effects. Most of the time, you’re just wandering around in a dark, uninteresting environment. Even when it tries to scare the hell out of you, the lackluster visual presentation doesn’t quite do its job. Still, the graphics are definitely the best part of this disappointing production.

The sound isn't atrocious, thanks to some effects that satisfy the aforementioned ambiance requirement. You’ll hear slamming doors and screams somewhere in the distance and every once in a while, they might actually make you jump. But the soundtrack isn’t anything special and as such, the overall audio presentation falls well shy of expectations. It just doesn’t do a good job of raising the hair on the backs of our necks; at no point do we believe anything we see or hear. We’re just along for the ride and rather than freaking us out, it bores us. And the lagging technical elements are at least partially responsible.

Those who helped bring you F.E.A.R. and Condemned worked on Daylight , which is why its failure is so confusing. Perhaps they got too enamored with the idea of using a smartphone in a horror game, because that’s this adventure’s defining characteristic. It doesn’t really work, either. Most of the time, you’re just annoyed at the inherent limitations of your only tool, and you’re left wondering if the quest has a point besides illuminating dark hallways. Well, sadly, it really doesn’t. There are some legitimately frightening moments, but even those quickly lose their luster.

Sure, the darkness is always scary, basically by default. Some nasty thing that’s always chasing you adds to the tension and urgency, so perhaps you’ll enjoy this aspect of the quest. After all, the cornerstones of a great horror experience are here; they’re not elaborate or intricate but hey, they don’t have to be. Give us a darkened building, a bunch of creepy sounds, otherworldly specters that want to hurt us, and a background story that is so twisted and sordid, it’s almost hard to believe. What’s hard to believe is that Zombie Studios didn’t deliver on any of this. Well, there are a few creepy sounds.