Daylight First Impressions: Dear Odin where am I going?

daylight-video-game-logoHorror games these days are a dime a dozen. Everyone tries to make their own specific formula, trying to find that mystical combination that causes the most scares. Daylight is no different in this case, as it tries to combine exploration focused survival horror with randomly generated environments that change each time you play it.

Being developed by Zombie Studios, responsible for Blacklight: Retribution, and being published by Atlus, responsible for just about everything awesome out there, Daylight will throw its own name in the spooky hat. It’s already set to be released for PS4 and PC, but the main thing that caught my interest in particular is the fact that it’s the first horror game being developed for the VR tool Oculus Rift.

Now, I have played my fair share of horror games, but playing a first-person one where you can actually look at your surroundings, not knowing what could be jumping in front of your face at any moment? Sounds like a winning recipe to me.

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Daylight plants you into the shoes of an at-this-point-unnamed woman trying to figure out where she is and just what the hell happened. The area I was set to explore was an abandoned building that was supposed to be filled with creepy shit, armed with only a cell phone as my sole light source. Sadly, there was hardly anything present to even give me shivers, other than some shadows cast by random objects. Or maybe it was the insanely hot SoCal sun threatening to attack me the moment I stepped out into it that was preventing those shivers.

Anyway, my main objective at this point was to find a key to this weird ghost door. During the time I tried to get myself used to the controls, which seemed simple enough, but becomes a challenge when you have the Oculus headset on. This is because, while you are able to move your head in any direction and check out your surroundings, which is freaking brilliant, your actual camera control is still based on the right stick, like traditional console FPS controls. This means that you need to juggle using the right stick to actually change your character’s orientation AND your head moving freedom. This becomes very disorienting, especially if you’re someone like me and can only play FPS games with a keyboard and mouse (unless the Steam controller is able to rectify this).

This isn’t necessarily a fault with the game itself, but it’s something that definitely feels awkward and takes some getting used to. The Oculus headset was also causing me to suffer from slight nausea, again, something that may need to take some getting used to. Or maybe that was the low quality of the graphics that the version I was playing had causing it (the final version is supposed to have 1080p).

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If there was one thing that really got to me, it was the interaction with the environment. Being an exploration focused horror title, you need to interact with a lot of things, and a lot of those things in this case tend to be unresponsive or requiring insane precision in where you need to interact with them at. Doors can be picky in where you touch them at, and the key you eventually find, which is a creepy looking doll, required about five minutes of me positioning myself  and mashing the button trying to grab the silly thing. It’s not a good sign when interacting with the environment is such a key component in the game and it doesn’t work as well as it should.

The game is still early in development, so one can hope that all of these quirks can be ironed out before its release in 2014, as the game itself has a bit of potential, and that potential is increased with the unique possibilities of the Oculus. If they can make the controls less awkward and more responsive, then the PS4, and even the Oculus, may have a true killer ap on their hands.

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