Daylight ReviewGuest_Jim_* - May 14, 2014
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At its core, the gameplay of Daylight is simple to the point of being minimalistic. You can walk and run, interact with only some objects, climb some barriers, clumsily analyze a map, pull out special light sources, and throw those light sources. Despite the limited number of actions, there is some depth to them, but also some issues.
I previously mentioned how loud your footsteps are and how that does not make sense to me. Running is appropriately loud, and it also causes your hands to move appropriately too. This has the effect of impairing your vision of the cellphone and map in your hand. Sadly, running only has limited utility. First and foremost, it helps you get where you are going faster and that is how I primarily used it. Next, I used it to chase down the Shadows when I had a flare out, or otherwise quickly move about to get full use out of a flare or glow stick. Rarely would I use it to actually run for my life.
There were definitely times when I had no flares and a Shadow appeared, so I would turn and run, but really, the mechanic of the Shadows spawning is one that is easy to adapt to. Generally, Shadows will not appear in front of you, though it can happen, so you can put off them being a threat to you until you let them be. You do know when they are near, as the phone will start showing strange symbols and there is a characteristic noise to their presence as well. At these times you can just stand still for them to pass (really, this is a valid strategy) or just keep walking without turning around. Running does not help in these cases, but it should not hurt.
Really the Shadows become very manageable and even fun. What I mean is that running around with a flare out, chasing down the Shadows and causing them to burn away is quite enjoyable. That is not to say they lose their menacing qualities, but that they can be dealt with.
Most of the time the interactions you are allowed in the game are fine, but in one circumstance they are frustrating. There are caches of glow sticks and flares within the game, allowing you to restock by just walking about and clicking a bunch, at least in theory. The flare caches are contained within boxes that can be opened and closed, but the interaction of grabbing flares and closing the box is triggered the same way. The only way I found to be sure you are grabbing flares is to press yourself against the box, so the door is effectively off the screen, and spam-click to hopefully catch the zone where you will actually be picking up the flares. Not an ideal design.
The map system is definitely something that could have been designed better in my opinion. You do always have the map visible on the phone, but if you want a closer look, you just hit the key and wait for the phone to be brought up to your face. For some reason that waiting involves the phone being moved out of frame and then being brought up in front of your eyes, instead of just bringing it directly to your eyes. I am unsure why the additional motion exists. It may be to cover for those times you may be holding a light source in the other hand, so you can put it down, but then such consideration is missing when you are climbing an object, with at least a flare out. It is not unreasonable that the flare is set down to climb, but the sound of it burning ends while you are climbing and immediately returns when you pick the flare back up. I am pretty sure flares do not stop burning just because you are not holding them.
The glow sticks are a nice and useful mechanic, but honestly, I found myself rarely using them. They do highlight objects of interest, but once you know what you are looking for (desks, suitcases, boxes, etc.) they somewhat lose their purpose, behind lighting the area up a little better. The flares never lose their use, but it can be hard to find more, so you may want to be conservative with using them. One thing I do not understand about them is why you have the option to throw them. I really do not know what the purpose of that mechanic is, especially as you are not allowed to pick them back up. Why throw a glow stick when you need to walk over to whatever it reveals? Why throw a flare when you can just run at the Shadow?
One last mechanic to speak of that I found quite annoying, is the saving system. I understand that you do not want someone to be abusing a save system, but to not allow any manual saving is something I take issue with. You do not know the next time you are going to hit a checkpoint, which could be far away, and when you are busy and have to stop playing, you want to know your progress has been saved. Daylight offers nothing to allow that. If they really want to avoid save abusing, then they should just have the game always saved to the same file, so you cannot jump back in time to an earlier point.
I completed the game in about two hours, which is quite short, but then the game's ability to randomly generate the world can multiply that time. Also, I am not sure how much longer it could be without running into a lack of story and a lack of interest from the player.
The game is enjoyable, but is not without issues. The lack of manual saving mechanically hurts it while some of the other issues just seem to reveal a lack of good design.