Ambition Is A Double Edged Sword
Daylight is a procedurally generated horror title, and the first game to be released running on the Unreal 4 engine, whose claim to fame comes in the form of randomized environments and scary encounters. The phrase "procedurally generated" is something that can go very right, or very wrong, and in recent years we've seen quite a few games through multiple genres bridge that gap from the lowest lows, to the highest highs. What Daylight aims to do, is use it so that each and every playthrough is like playing it for the first time all over again. Does it accomplish that? In some aspects, yes. In others, the game can feel like you've been there and done that long before the final credits roll.
Thrown into the role of a woman named Sarah, you find yourself traversing the derelict halls of a mysterious facility with no knowledge of how you arrived, no knowledge of why you're pushing forward, and no knowledge of the mysterious man who serves as a rather vague voice of both understanding comfort and curious intent that reaches out to you through your smartphone. All you know is that Sarah wants to get out, and the main entrance is sealed shut.
In these first moments, you are presented with the main way the narrative of the game is delivered. At times it shines, especially in the beginning as you begin to find notes and memos left behind by staff and patients alike. In the lobby as I got my bearings on the game, I walked from note to note as I shakily battled a questionable frame rate where I was dipping down to about twenty two frames per second. While the notes were interesting to read, that first room was not a promising first impression and I sincerely have no idea what caused the poor performance other than what I can only assume is the result of poor optimization on the part of the developers.
Those frame rate issues did subside and once I left that room I was able to play the game smoothly, but for whatever reason there are about five sections of the game where it becomes an eyesore to press onward because of how choppy it gets, which is a shame because those segments take place in the only consistent areas that exist in the game. That is to say, the frame rate gets choppy in the places that are predetermined to exist and not the product of procedural generation. Luckily, those segments have quite a bit of randomized fun in between that more than make up for the teeth-grinding annoyance of poor fps.
Was It This Way? That Way? Have I Been Here Before?
As I guided Sarah out of the lobby, aided with nothing but emergency flares and all the glow sticks I could carry (which could've been more, if Sarah were a fan of raves) I began to experience firsthand what the game's procedural generation had to offer. As I went through a series of dark hallways, hearing creepy things going bump in the night and catching brief glimpses of things just out of the corner of my eye, I both admired and frowned at how the game handled itself. It ensured I would have a labyrinth to work through, and it kept me on edge as I noticed that the frights within became increasingly more aggressive the longer I took to find the eight remnants I needed to proceed.
Environmental Procedural Generation Works Wonderfully, A Good Mix Of Creepy Moments, Jump Scares, And Edge Of Your Seat Moments
The procedural generation on everything else often over saturates the scares, frame rate issues at key moments dull the experience