Zombie Studios, the developer behind the PC version of SAW, Blacklight Retribution and Blacklight Tango Down, revealed during the DICE 2013 summit this week that it is currently developing what seems to be the first 3rd-party game to use Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4.
Called Daylight, it will be a survival horror title to be released for $20 or less on Valve's Steam platform some time in 2013. It will take an episodic approach, or rather arrive as individual chapters, meaning the first available game will be Chapter 1 and the sequels will be labeled accordingly.
According to IGN, the player takes the role of an unnamed female protagonist without a weapon. Instead, a smartphone will be at hand serving as the only means of artificial illumination in a dark, procedurally-generated environment. She'll creep down the halls and investigate randomly generated rooms, keeping the experience sinisterly fresh. The overall story will only be revealed through the clues she discovers.
"We don’t give any backstory on the player," said Zombie creative director and studio head Jared Gerritzen. "She literally just wakes up and you need to find your way through, but there’s a lot of story elements. The way the story unfolds is we have all these elements where you can pick up documents and case files, but also your phone gets possessed and it plays recordings from the past."
Jessica Chobot, the game's writer, said that it's not a hack-and-slash horror title. Instead players are more like a rat in a cage which in this case is a dark asylum. The goal is to find the way out, and the playtime will be around 25 to 30 minutes. But the game is designed to generate different experiences for different players, and replayability to get all the clues for the story. Each time through will be a completely different experience.
"It’s all very subtle," Chobot said. "It’s all very implied and it kind of leaves the player to their own devices."
Daylight will not be the first game to use Epic's Unreal Engine 4. Epic Games' own Fortnite takes the crown as the "first ever" title to use the new engine. It's a co-op sandbox survival game where players must explore, scavenge gear, build fortified structures and fight off waves of enemies. Players team up to gather and build by day, and defend their fort against the creatures of the night.
Set to officially launch this year, Unreal Engine 4 made its debut at the 2012 Game Developers Conference via the Elemental demo. The engine throws out static lighting in favor of real-time global illumination using voxel cone tracing. This allows light to shine onto things correctly without having to pre-compute effects such as light casting down on the carpet and reflecting onto the walls, dust floating in the air, perfect shadows and so on.