The lights are on
From Zombie Studios, the developer that worked on the Saw games, is a new horror title that aims to scare with simplicity.
The art of scaring someone is hard to execute. Environments,
sound, and unpredictability all help spark tension, and Zombie Studios appears to be keeping all of that in mind with its new game Daylight. You explore an abandoned mental hospital,
but you're goal isn't as much to survive as it is to escape. The downloadable
title procedurally generates your starting point every time you enter the
hospital. The randomness of the level design creates a disquieting effect
because you never know what you'll find around the next corner. The only device
you have for navigation is your handy cell phone that acts as a compass, and
you must find a way out of the hospital before your cell phone battery dies.
With merely two hands in front of you and IGN's Jessica Chobot (also a writer for the game) voicing the lead female
character, who reacts to different sights as you try to
fumble around dark corners, things can go from calm to frantic in a heartbeat. You can walk around entirely in the darkness for an extra eeriness, or pick up glow sticks along the way to see more in the environment. The
whole concept is about exploration, as during your search for the exit, you'll
find patient records from the '40s providing insight into the lives of past
patients. Let's just say, something bad obviously happened here, and the
feeling of being closed in envelops you. For instance, as you see windows and
walk towards them, boards fly up, to further cement that you're locked in. Even
subtle movements like opening doors have a vulnerability to them, since it's
not merely a button press, but also requires holding down the trigger button
and actually moving the right stick.
Lights flicker through the hospital and darkness makes it
hard to spot your biggest adversary: ghosts. Ghosts are sneaky and catch you
off guard, similar to the way Parsec Productions' Slender does. Of course, these ghosts aren't nearly as scary as Slender Man, but they do a good job at
making you panic. Ghosts are deadly and your best strategy is to run away from
them. If they do catch you, you use the sticks to break free, but I noticed in
my demo that they aren't entirely easily to break away from once they get your
hands on you. It's pretty much a death sentence to get in their clutches.
The best attraction for Daylight I experienced in my
demo was when a ghost completely blindsided me. Trying to break free as fast as I
could, sent a frantic wave through me. But these moments are fleeting, since if
you get caught, it's game over. Next time you start, you generate in a completely
different area. I played a pre-Alpha build of Daylight,
so the kinks are still being worked out. If they can capitalize on the surprise
element, something might be here. I just wish it wasn't set in a mental
hospital because that common horror trope is getting old.
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.