Daylight PS4 Review: take a note and run

  • Posted May 1st, 2014 at 13:34 EDT by Alex Machado

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Daylight tries hard to scare you with its soundscape and atmosphere, but unfortunately it treads an all too familiar haunting ground that leaves you sitting impassively in your seat rather than at the edge of it.

We like

  • Unnerving sound design
  • Atmospheric lighting
  • Shadow entities are unpredictable

We dislike

  • Familiar and uninspired story
  • Note collecting is disengaging
  • Procedurally generated levels are ineffective

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

Where Daylight truly shines brightest is in its atmospheric presentation, though in truth, I mean awfully dim here. Graphically, the game lacks horsepower and doesn’t take full advantage of the PS4’s hardware, let alone the Unreal Engine 4, displaying washed out textures that are just borderline next-gen. The visual polish does remain consistent throughout, from the rusted walls to the begrimed windows, but it’s the thin spread lighting that carries the mood more than anything else. The story equally distributes your journey through different locations, ranging from a prison to a fog engulfed forest, which at least keeps the scenery from getting too stale. The game’s performance is also a bit finicky, sporting occasional frame rate drops and unacceptably long loading times. The highlight is easily the sound landscape, which is filled with dread and tension, always leaving you with the feeling that you’re being watched and followed. Every whimper, moan, and footstep that echoes through the space is skillfully executed, albeit repeated and recognizable by the time you reach the final chapter of the game. 

As for the game’s ghastly creeper, well, do expect that it will test your ability to survive the horror – at least initially. The game successfully generates its menacing phantasms, identified as Shadows, on a random basis. Its AI is highly unpredictable, revealing itself whenever it feels the need to scare the pants off of you. It’ll pop up in front of you, around the corner, or even behind you, and sometimes without warning. My only qualm is how easy it is to maneuver around it, and it’s a shame that the novelty quickly wears off because of this one fatal flaw. Even so, spend too much time staring at its balefully gaping mouth and pair of eyes and you’ll be dead in mere seconds.

On the survival spectrum of things, the game doesn’t take enough risks to make things hard for you. For the most part your inventory consists of glow sticks and flares. The purpose of the glow stick is to highlight where an item or remnant can be found, while flares are used to keep the big, bad ghosts away. I rarely found myself using flares, even to get myself out of a rock and a hard place with Shadows because of how easy it was to dash around them. The sheer darkness of the atmosphere also lost its mystery midway through the game, and this is because your cell phone never runs out of battery and is always providing you with a source of light. Admittedly, it got to a point in the campaign where I no longer felt threatened or challenged. 

Zombie Studios did little right to make this a thrill ride worthy of a horror addict’s admission, and it certainly didn’t take enough risks to make it something memorable. The game doesn’t succeed in moving the genre forward with its cheap scare tactics, but it does showcase the amount of attention that is finally being applied to this rapidly growing breed of games. At moments it packs a real punch, and at moments it leaves you wishing that it packed more. Daylight tries hard to scare you with its soundscape and atmosphere, but unfortunately it treads an all too familiar haunting ground that leaves you sitting impassively in your seat rather than at the edge of it.

Alex is a Staff Writer for PSU and a performance major at Florida International University. Perhaps one day he'll find a cure for his uncanny obsession with making Kerotan frog noises. Not that he cares though. But if you do, feel free to advise him on Twitter.
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