Procedurally generated nightmares.
Following the successful release of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, developers have learned that the best way to produce scares is by removing power from the player. Zombie Studios has decided to borrow some of the formula that made Amnesia such a horrifying game to produce a title that will test the mettle of any horror fan.
Beginning Daylight, you’re put in control of a young woman who has just awakened in an abandoned hospital. She has no idea why she’s there, but she quickly notices that it’s not the ideal place to be. Notes, scattered around the building, offer subtle hints at the backstory, make her ever more uncomfortable with her situation. But figuring out why she’s there quickly becomes less important as she traverses unwelcoming hallways littered with broken wheelchairs, overturned furniture, and dim lighting to realize that surviving such a predicament is the ultimate goal.
It wasn’t long after I began playing that I encountered my first ghost. The moment was unforgettable. I was rushing down a hallway and made the mistake of becoming frozen in fear the moment I saw the ghost’s transparent figure make eye contact with me. It quickly charged toward me and ended my life before I could react to the QTE commands on-screen.
While ghosts are a diabolical hazard, they only drive a minor portion of the fear. The environmental effects, visual and acoustic, are truly unsettling. I could hear the creaking of wooden floors and uninviting noises that reminded me that I didn’t belong. Doors sometimes barricaded themselves before I could touch the doorknob, making me feel trapped. Becoming lost only amplified my fear. But I pressed on as standing still did me no good.
After starting up a new game I quickly learned what makes Daylight different than any other horror game on the market: its procedurally generated levels. My second and subsequent playthroughs generated completely different map layouts. The familiarity of my first time playing was immediately replaced with something that looked foreign. It was as if I was beginning the game again for my first time.
During my second time through, I made it far enough to find flares, one of the only tools in the game. Typically, the only defense against merciless ghosts is running away, and making a wrong turn while running away is a death sentence so remembering which direction you came from is a key to survival, along with quick reaction speed.
Taking inspiration from Amnesia, Daylight is a game that will challenge players like myself to find the bravery to travel from start to finish. It’s no easy task given there are deadly ghosts and randomized hallways, but if you’re into horror games you’ll be compelled to find a way. Look out for Daylight when it releases on PC and PS4 during Q1 2014.