A Horror Game That Isn’t Slender: Daylight

By Adam Smith on March 25th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

I think it’s fair to say that horror games are in a slump, although that suggests the existence of a golden age of trouser-troubling titles at some point in the past. I’m not sure that’s the case, but when 99% of the entire genre involves walking through forests or factories, waiting for slenderman to appear and then shrugging, the frighteners have certainly become frightfully dull. At least A Machine For Pigs and Among The Sleep are waiting in the wings, and perhaps Daylight will offer a ray of hope as well. It’s “a procedurally generated psychological thriller” and the trailer doesn’t have any guns or slendermen in it.

It’s possible that the experience of a ‘procedurally generated psychological thriller’ is very much a case of walking forwards, opening a door and hearing a random sound effect or seeing a random glowing object. Sometimes the sound effects will be quite loud and the glowing objects will hover even though they are not helicopters or hovercrafts. Spooky.

Each time the player begins a new game, they experience a new world with new content and encounters; from the layout of the building and the things they seek to the events they encounter, it is never the same experience twice.

One of the things that will never change is the setting. It’s an abandoned hospital, of course, because that is where horror tends to live. Still, I’m keen to learn more.

If you haven’t visited the Machine For Pigs website recently, do take a look. There’s a horrid little story on the front page that contains the word ‘tussie-mussie’ and goes on to suggest orphan cannibalism.

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52 Comments »

  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    “do take a look”

    No, thank you.

    Good day, sir.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      I concur. Good day to you, Adam, indeed.

      • Adam Smith says:

        I just looked at it again. I really think you should take a peek. Everybody should. Show it to your friends.

        • Ross Angus says:

          I can only assume that Lord Custard would not visit the site, as he had written the aforementioned story. It is very much written in his style.

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          Oh very well… Since you asked so nicely, Adam! Some people say you can catch more flies with honey, but frankly, that just gets flies in your honey. I can’t abide it, they make lumps on my toast. Bah!

          I did read it, and I am heartily glad I did. Some fine chaps writing there. The writing bodes well for the game; It has a deft touch.

          Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some delicious-looking sausages to eat. Support your local butcher!

          • daemonofdecay says:

            I prefer buying my processed meat pruducts from faceless multi-national conglomerates that operate in countries far removed from food safety standards. The local butchers just don’t provide the same level of danger and mystery with every meal as I have come to expect.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            if the local butcher wouldn’t be sampling his own wares so much he wouldn’t be in danger of toppling over in the first place.

        • rxonarex says:

          uptil I saw the bank draft which said $8619, I did not believe that my friends brother woz like they say actually erning money in there spare time on-line.. there sisters neighbour has done this for under fourteen months and by now paid the dept on their villa and purchased a gorgeous Mitsubishi Evo. this is where I went… http://www.Fly38.COm/

  2. Komm says:

    I looked at the machine for pigs site.. and I think my soul just crapped itself..

    • maninahat says:

      It’s interesting, the theme is already fairly obvious by now, and I like how it is being treated less like a twist and more like the really ghastly idea it is.

    • Gargenville says:

      It seems to be written by a character who’s both in on the sinister goings-on and cares about the orphans though which (assuming they’re implying what I think they’re impying) is going to be a pretty awkward split to maintain for any length of time.

  3. Kitsunin says:

    Looks interesting…but what’s the point of the compass-phone? It looks distracting and just slightly out of place.

    • bfandreas says:

      I concur.
      A shotgun would propably feel much reassuring in circumstances like these. What with enemies creeping around and whatnot. We could even sell DLC that -wait for it- tapes the compass phone to the shotgun.

      Battle things that want to eat you with things that have crosshairs. Not apps for mobile phones that drain the juice out of the batteries in no time. What a silly thing to do.

    • maninahat says:

      It’s probably supposed to dramatically flicker at key moments. Haunted mansions are notorious for having terrible reception… which might explain why she doesn’t just use the phone to call for help.

    • UmmonTL says:

      Maybe they use a phone so that it can be used to display other stuff from time to time. Aliens motion tracker app ahoy…
      Still, it’s pretty silly since a compass app would only be reliable with a GPS signal is kind of a problem when you’re rummaging around a cellar. I like the different light sources you can hold in your left hand but having it raised while not holding anything looks quite silly as well.
      That bear dissolving a door immediately reminded me of a bad adventure-style puzzle, find key-object and rub on door object until it works. All in all I don’t think this trailer manages to build up a scary atmosphere.

  4. Dowr says:

    The horror genre has remained rubbish because people think shock scares are enough to induce fear, so that then becomes the minimal standard developers try to achieve; when in reality shock scares are nothing more than startling and cheap – It’s the same as walking up behind someone and shouting “Boo!”.

    Also, we keep calling games like Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space ‘Horror’ when they are really just shooters with a horror THEME.

    Hopefully this game, Daylight, will not fall into the same trap as mentioned above.

    • maninahat says:

      It isn’t just that. The problem is that people keep reusing the same, familiar cliches (haunted asylums, shadows, flickering screens etc.), when horror depends entirely on the unknown. When you re-use the same tropes and settings over and over again, the crucial element of horror is lost. It gets to the point where all you can do is “boo” to get a scare.

      • Gargenville says:

        To be fair a lot of these horror games are coming out of tiny studios who chose to do a horror game because they’re relatively easy to make. They can’t all be Silent Hill 2.

        • maninahat says:

          That only justifies the setting to a limited extent. Is it really that much harder to pick an original setting or creep?

          Incidentally, I just had a great idea for a horror game: you’re a chicken/pig in a semi-automated, realistic abattoir. That’s it. Whether you escape or not, it’ll be utterly revolting, terrifying and thought provoking experience.

          • Ruffian says:

            I kinda get the feeling that this is somewhat how a machine for pigs will end up playing out.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      There are enough good games in the horror genre to discount any opinion of it being rubbish. The Penumbra series, Amnesia, Condemned: Criminal Origins, and Cryostasis all have a lot more to them than just “shock scares”.

      • Dowr says:

        Amnesia and Penumbra were the only good games you mentioned there, funny enough both are from the same developer.

        Cryostasis has a very good story but the gameplay is extremely clunky and loose and the survival elements die out a few hours into the games thanks to the copious amounts of ammo the game provides.

        Condemned is a horrible game.

  5. Llewyn says:

    Presumably it’s a key element of the horror in this one that not only do you have to walk around with hands held up in front of your face, they appear to belong to two different people.

    Also, I’m pleased to see that The Chinese Room seem to have come up with a practical use for orphans. This widespread natural resource has been wasted for far too long.

  6. RedViv says:

    i donnt get it where is teh BOX where the funni epople put there faces in ???

    *bang*

    Very sorry for that, this character shall never ever post again. I hope.

  7. Saarlaender39 says:

    I wanna be daylight in your eyes
    I wanna be sunlight only warmer
    I wanna be daylight in you eyes
    I wanna be love only stronger
    I wanna be daylight…

  8. golem09 says:

    With all of the HUD being put into the cellphone, a physical ingame object, this seems like it would be a relly nice fit for the Oculus.

  9. Muzman says:

    Use bear on doorway?

    • squareking says:

      Adventure logic!

      Also, whenever I walk around abandoned hospitals, I do have my left hand up and out at all times. I’m glad they’ve really embraced the realism factor.

  10. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Nah. Not convinced. Just another scary game, it seems. Cheap horror. Amnesia and the likes in which horror is something the author wishes to push up the spectator nose to varying degrees of success.

    I’d rather have a game that used horror as a narrative ploy. Much like a good horror book, I don’t care about feeling scared, I do care about experiencing a great horror story.

  11. Bluerps says:

    Another word for “tussie-mussie” is “nosegay”.

  12. x3m157 says:

    Procedurally generated horror, if done well, can be absolutely terrifying.
    So far the only game that has really scared me has been SCP-087-B.

  13. Jupiah says:

    The top rated comment on that youtube video made me laugh.

    “Please remove the left hand when its empty, looks stupid.
    Is she blind? is she a zombie? is she a mage?”

  14. SuperNashwanPower says:

    “waiting for slenderman to appear and then shrugging, the frighteners have certainly become frightfully dull”
    At last, someone with more clout than the comments section said it.

  15. sbs says:

    Guys wasnt there another procedural horror thing announced! It was in space! What was the name damn it!

  16. derbefrier says:

    Horror games never do anything for me. I tried Amnesia once. Played it for half an hour got bored and uninstalled it. I tried to get into it. I played it alone in the dark with no one around and I just got sleepy. I guess the horror genre in all forms is just something I’ll never get into.

  17. MiloticMaster says:

    I just hope they get their procedural right. The problem I have with procedural games like this is that their ‘procedural-ness’ becomes inconsistent/lazy and breaks me out of the immersion; and this sucks especially in horror games, cause when something works the first time, and then doesnt the second time, or things just feel palette swapped, I feel the gamey-ness at full force and the game isnt interesting anymore.
    How they can make the game both procedural and scary at the same time I’ll be interested to find out. But being able to cloak their procedural-ness within horror will be a challenge.

  18. Razumen says:

    Procedurally generated you say? Reminds me of Containment Breach: http://www.scpcbgame.com/

  19. GunFox says:

    No guns? No thanks.

    Horror is good when you are scared in spite of armament and capability.

    Making then entire selection of enemies invulnerable means that flight is always your only option. With running being your only option, you also know that it is always a viable option. Choosing when to desperately hold your ground and when you flee is an important psychological component of a good horror game. Silent Hill II understood this.

    Combat also allows for the concept of being stalked. If you are unarmed or otherwise incapable of defending yourself, then there is no story reason for the player character to be stalked. If the PC can’t fight, then the thing after them would just kill them outright in most cases. Whereas with games like Clive Barker’s undying, the first half of the game sees you stalked fairly heavily by the antagonists (Lizbeth in particular makes a show of it) and the resulting tension and fear are excellent. In non combat horror games, you just have the player character relying on stealth and hiding in order to stay alive, which can be nerve wracking, but isn’t actually that scary.

    • Farcelet says:

      No guns? No thanks.

      Horror is good when you are scared in spite of armament and capability.

      I hear in the olden days they had sharp sticks, or sticks that shot sharp sticks, or even sharp metal thingies – but possibly this was all a Hollywood invention and I am an idiot!

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