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E3 2013: Daylight
Coming from Zombie Studios, Daylight is a ‘procedurally generated psychological thriller’ game. What draws my attention more than many other games of similar genres is that Daylight relies on simplicities. There are no complicated elements coming into play. It’s the most basic of set-ups you can get and I think that’s what makes it so scary.
You play as a woman who has woken up inside a seemingly abandoned hospital. You have a cell phone with you, but no service. It pretty much operates as a small light and compass. You have no idea how you got here or where here even is. The hospital is in sorry condition, with tables and chairs in disarray, but no seeming cause. This is all about your mental game – the lack of blood or bodies, of any indication of what has happened just adds to the atmosphere.
Once you step out of that initial room, the game will randomly generate your paths. No two times playing through will be the same. You’ll be able to find items such as glow sticks and flares, which you can carry around (on time limits of course) for additional light. A nifty element is the ability to throw these items down a hallway or staircase to light up your path. As I played through, I noticed that windows outside were boarded over, while there were some sections with limited power (aka a flickering light at the end of a corridor).
There is more in the hospital than just you. In the course of several times playing the demo, I came across only a creeper. I freaked, mostly because I saw it but then tried to attribute it to being my shadow as I checked out a bathroom. Some elements are ‘jump out in your face’ style, but most of it is very subtle; playing with your mind. The bulk of the game is played with ambient sounds (aka the sound of your footsteps), but occasionally you’ll find areas with music. Those generally creeped me out, so I’d turn around and go a different route.
Now we all know I’m a coward when it comes to scary games. But let me try to set up just how well this game managed to freak me out. Keep in mind this is happening on the E3 show floor, so even with awesome headphones there’s generally still a lot of noise coming from the other booths.
Daylight plays mind games with you. I’d almost prefer the jumping out at you sort of thing that games like Resident Evil and Dead Space have done. Then I can at least be semi-prepared for when things happen. They play on the limited power and small light of your cell phone. It was very slow moving for me to get anywhere because of (extreme) caution. I jumped just hearing my character say ‘I need to get out of here’ because I was so tense. I tried to have some control, so there was no screaming involved but lots of nervous twitching and jumping anytime I even thought something happened.
Finding that creeper? That required a pause while I put my hand over my heart and realized it was racing. Without a doubt, I’m a coward when it comes to these kinds of games (I admit that without shame). The first play on the demo freaked me out so much I didn’t wear the headphones for the next two. Yet I still jumped anytime something happened and was shaking from the nervous tension of expecting something to happen.
So if you like these kinds of suspense games, you’ll definitely want to pick up Daylight when it makes its appearance early 2014 on PC and PS4. Want to hear a little more straight from Zombie Games? Check out this interview I did after playing on the show floor.