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Found 7 results

  1. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Daylight

    Developer: Zombie Studios Publisher: Zombie Studios, Atlus Platform: PC (Steam), PS4 (PSN) Release Date: April 29, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature This review is based on the PS4 version of the game Horror games have been around for a great many years, but as of late, they“ve seen a huge resurgence. The basic trend has been to move away from the action-style horror of modern series and attempt to distill horror to its most basic elements. Zombie Studios“ Daylight was announced as fitting squarely in the refreshed survival horror genre. Horror is a very temperamental thing which places Daylight in a precarious situation because it offers little else. The storyline of Daylight is incredibly simple at the onset. All you know is that you“re a woman named Sarah with a smartphone trapped in a dark, abandoned building. There are flourishes that make it seem like a hospital, but also bars and cells that would be at home in a prison. With both haunted hospitals and prisons being excellent settings for horror tales, it seems like a perfect setting. Although initially you are completely unaware of anything, your phone constantly maps the area as it is explored, effectively limiting the fear of the “unknown” so you don“t get lost. Gameplay is incredibly simple and focuses on one pattern. Players must explore the stage for a required amount of notes, find a special item, and take that item to a glowing sigil somewhere else. If you can do that about five times in a row then the game will be over. Of course, it“s not that simple. Along the way you“ll come face to face with a resident spirit that is severely unhappy with your presence. Sometimes she“ll appear with a burst of flames around her, just to add insult to injury. Staring at her for too long strains Sarah“s mental fortitude - possibly leading to a game over. This is where another element of gameplay comes in, although it“s very slight. Although the player has no weapons in an obvious sense, she can utilize flares scattered about the hospital to repel the ghost. There are also caches of glowsticks to be found. Although these have no impact on the spirit, they are useful for lighting up incredibly dark hallways. Oh, and they also cast interactable objects with a strange glow. In cabinets and lockers you“ll tend to find more light sources, letters, or nothing at all. Sometimes the cabinets will wiggle at you which is apparently meant to be spooky. Actually, a whole lot of Daylight focuses on the act of scaring rather than actually being scary. No matter how tough someone is, a good jump scare will make them jolt no matter what. Jump scares are exactly what the game aims for, by making sure to have that ghost meander about the hospital, always ready to scream when you turn around. Then there are all the rather lacking scares that come from the environment (boxes falling, drawers opening and shutting themselves, etc). The game never does anything to draw you in and take out your mental defenses. Instead, it is content with just trying to “boo” its way to terrorize. This seems to be an unfortunate result of the game“s randomly-generated nature. In theory it sounds extremely cool to have a horror game that always changes stages up. The concept leads one to imagine incredibly creepy atmospheres that will never grow stale because they“re never the same. Daylight definitely has a good deal of variety per stage upon replay, but it still can“t manage to create tension. Instead, you may go an entire stage without ever seeing the ghost while other times she“ll keep popping up in a very short time span. In the latter case, even the most jumpy players will eventually become desensitized. Randomness also taints the progression of story along the way. Each stage requires the collection of a certain amount of notes but there are far more available than you actually need. The overabundance helps the player from getting stuck for too long. However, it means there is not one well-crafted storyline to experience. Instead, there are scatterings of story threads but none of them are all that interesting. Because of the excess of papers, this also means that many feel repetitive. The writing itself is alright, but storytelling was definitely harmed by having to accommodate for a wealth of very similar text. On PS4, the text is also often hard to read due to being small and written with iffy color choices. Then there are the little things that just make the atmosphere too ridiculous to take seriously. For one, the voice of a Vincent Price-esque man pipes up through Sarah“s smartphone from time to time, spouting fragments of wisdom. What he“s hinting at is always fairly transparent, although if you don“t catch it, the game makes sure to spell it out in the final five seconds. Then there is Sarah herself who states the obvious randomly. She is understandably frightened, but her cries of “this is too much!” over tiny events are taken as silly rather than inspiring empathy. For all that Daylight manages to get wrong, it“s not completely without merit. The atmosphere in and of itself can be creepy if you let yourself slowly meander through it and manage to have the ghost randomized such that she doesn“t continually pester you. The game is about as far from psychologically scarring you as it can get which places it more in the category of haunted houses. Haunted houses are fun because you know what you“re in for when visiting. The same holds true for this game. Go into Daylight with a mindset of getting jump scares left and right for about an hour and you won“t be disappointed. Pros: + Good game to play with scaredy cats + Randomized areas have a great deal of variation Cons: - Storytelling is impinged due to the randomness of note-finding - Prioritizes (mostly non-frightening) jump scares over all else - Very short experience that doesn“t demand repeated playthroughs Overall Score: 5 (out of 10) Average If you“re a fan of tame haunted houses and would like to recreate the experience at home then Daylight should suffice.
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Daylight Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  3. Marcus Estrada

    Daylight Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  4. Marcus Estrada

    Daylight Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  5. Marcus Estrada

    Horror Game Daylight Coming to PS4

    If you tuned in to Spike TV last night then you probably already know the news, but for the rest of us, here's what was announced. During the pre-E3 episode of GameTrailers TV, Zombie Studios' Daylight was revealed as coming to PS4. We already knew it was heading to PC, but the console information is brand new. Daylight is a procedurally-generated horror game which means locations change each playthrough. Story tidbits are also jostled up each play but overall the team hopes to have a cohesive narrative for their game throughout. Of note, the story happens to be written by Jessica Chobot. The game itself was also finally announced as being published by Atlus, although Zombie Studios had previously stated they like to choose to be self-published with their titles. Here's the latest trailer for Daylight to see if it's something you're interested in: http://youtu.be/UlAZoe0QfgY
  6. Harrison Lee

    Review: Special Forces: Team X

    Developer: Zombie Studios Publisher: Microprose Software Platform: PC, Xbox 360 Release Date: February 6th, 2013 Rating: M (Mature) This review is based on the Steam version of the game The modern gaming market is overcrowded with modern warfare shooters. You can't scroll through a page on a store website without running into a Call of Duty or Battlefield-like shooter. Unfortunately, most of these games are 'me-too' cardboard cutouts that look the part of being fun but lack the substance. In this over-saturated game space, Zombie Studios made waves with the F2P FPS known as Blacklight: Retribution. It was slick, inventive, and awesome to play. Zombie is back at it again with a $15 budget third-person shooter, Special Forces: Team X. Can Special Forces rise above the ranks or will it be deemed unfit for duty? I have to hand it to Zombie and publisher Microprose; Special Forces looks darn cool. The cel-shaded visuals are reminiscent of comic books and have an art style that really pops. The character models are, for the most part, well done. The environments are solidly textured and look like the names but fail to stand out in any way. However, the visual effects (like the awesome explosions) stand out with their comic-like shapes and grand sizes. On equal par with the visuals is the audio design. Every weapon has a meaty sound, and the amusing grunts and one-liners from player avatars don't grow stale for the first few hours. There's little in the way of a musical score to speak of but the tracks that do exist are inoffensive, if anything. Unfortunately, the visuals and the audio were the highlights of my experience with Special Forces. Where the downloadable shooter starts to fall apart is in the actual gameplay. I commend Zombie for taking a chance by not including pre-defined maps. Instead of the traditional themed zones, Zombie decided to mix things up by allowing players to vote on three areas where a number of map pieces can be placed. You could have a junkyard, warehouse, and admin building paired together. If players want variation, they could mix them up or add in all-new pieces. It all sounds great on paper, but the maps rarely feel different despite the placement of map segments. I learned each section quickly and knew what to expect, removing the element of surprise Zombie was intending. The game modes are standard to the point of being bare-bones. You have TDM, Hot Zone, CTF, and one or two other shooter stand-bys. Throughout all of these game modes, teamwork is heavily encouraged by in-game prompts and loading screens. I still haven't figured out how teamwork bonuses work. To my understanding, there are team-centric perks but I don't know how they impact gameplay. Special Forces doesn't do a terribly great job of explaining these elements, making it difficult to actually work as a cohesive team. Since this is a third-person shooter, you can expect a cover system. But rather than the cover-all pieces you might expect, Zombie smartly balanced each cover part for flanking and explosives. Bullets can also hit you if a sliver of your body is exposed. It helps to make deaths quick and fast, encouraging blind fire, suppression, and constant movement. Unfortunately, it can be frustrating when you're randomly killed by sniper fire from unknown locations, but it does keep things relatively balanced. The unlock and perk systems are nothing to write home about. You can equip your soldier with different grenades, weapons, and gear. None of it seems to have a significant impact on the experience, however. The body armor selections are only cosmetic. Most people also tend to use the same M-14's and M4's. This negates the feeling of progression when the new weapons and attachments are actually less useful than the earlier items. Technically speaking, Special Forces has a solid foundation with a number of glitches. I experienced a stat reset to level 1 for no reason. I had to unlock all of my gear back up to level 4. The much-touted attack dogs are also broken; their AI routines are awful and serve only to annoy and expose the player. I also spawned in with the spectator cam still on, meaning I couldn't shoot or interact. I had to die just to rejoin the game. Other visual glitches, like scopes attaching sideways, popped up throughout my playtime. The shooting, while meaty, feels hit-or-miss at times. I was often missing my own head with a single hostile shot after pumping an entire magazine at an enemy. More often than not, I was frustrated at the relatively high number of deaths to kills I was earning. I hate to say this, but Special Forces: Team X just isn't good. It's limited map selections, pointless unlocks, broken AI companion dogs, and numerous glitches prevent what could have been a great shooter from reaching my high expectations. As it is, Special Forces feels a little unfinished and needs some serious patching and updating. It could also stand to have bots or some sort of singleplayer option to introduce new players to the game's fast pace and intense action. The game has high aspirations but seldom reaches those lofty heights. Can Special Forces be fixed? Probably, but I can't speak to post-launch support until it truly happens. In its current state, the game is mediocre fare with a number of frustrating glitches and a few odd design choices. There are smart ideas, like the map selection, buried beneath problematic game design. Until the game is further updated with more content and necessary bug fixes, hold off on picking up this budget shooter. Pros: + Great visual and art style + Good audio work and voice overs + Has a solid mechanical foundation Cons: - Very buggy - No bots or active training - Weird unlock/customization system - Bad attack dog AI Overall Score: 5 (out of 10) Average Special Forces: Team X has a number of great ideas and a budget price tag but misses the execution step.
  7. If there's one thing that many developers are looking toward right now it is horror games. Sure, there are still all those big budget shooters, but smaller developers seem to be having fun dipping into the horror genre. Zombie Studios is one such group who has the dubious distinction of having created the Saw games. At DICE they gave the first details about their upcoming title Daylight. The game begins as the lead character wakes up inside an unfamiliar building. Using her cell phone to light the way, she will explore the surroundings. However, these rooms will not remain static. Rooms are generated on the fly making each experience a new one. Items will be scattered about the environment which tell parts of an overall story. Daylight's head writer, Jessica Chobot (yes, the one you're thinking of), had this to say about story elements in the game: “We have so much content story-wise that it hopefully, whether the person manages to succeed to the end or not, will be an experience that they want to capture more of the story so they have to go back and replay, because each time you might be getting different story elements. And over the course of that time, depending on how long you decide to play and what you find, it opens up the concept of the world a little more, the backstory, what your involvement is in it, how you find yourself here and whatnot. So instead of finding the same item over and over again and saying ”I“m not going to bother reading this piece of paper because I“ve seen it a thousand times,“ it“s different every time.” Zombie Studios is really hedging their bets on the experience being captivating as apparently one play through will take only half an hour. If the world is littered with creepy happenings and a compelling backstory then that may just be enough. Granted, the hope is to make the game an episodic series, so that may excuse the length. For example, Kentucky Route Zero is around as long and is viewed quite favorably. Daylight is coming to Steam in 2013 and will be less than $20.
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