Daymare: 1998 is a game a lot of gamers, especially fans of the Resident Evil series will be drawn towards. The game has several notable similarities to the Resident Evil games, such as the themes, the similar setting and more.
As such, Daymare: 1998 was initially planned as a reboot of Resident Evil 2, titled Resident Evil 2 Reborn until Invader Studios was forced to shut it down by demands of Capcom. Though this was tragic, they moved onto their next albeit similar project is now known as Daymare: 1998, a survival horror game with similarities to Resident Evil 2 that brings some of the good aspects from it while also including the worse ones.
In Daymare: 1998, you’ll take control of three central characters in different moments and chapters in the game. Specifically, you play as two agents from the Hexacore Advanced Division for Extraction and Search (H.A.D.E.S.) agent Liev and Raven, and Sam, a forest ranger as they unfold a virus outbreak that happened in the town of Keen Sight, Idaho.
The first similarity between Resident Evil and Daymare starts with H.A.D.E.S. As you play through the game, you’ll begin to realize you aren’t the good guys, as Hexacore Biotechnologies is the main orchestrator of the virus outbreak. The H.A.D.E.S. agents aren’t there to save people but rather follow orders and survive the outbreak themselves.
While Daymare has an interesting setting and characters, the writing isn’t up to par with its potential. The plot is quite hard to follow and the dialogue between the characters can be confusing at the start and tells its story in a frantic and jumbled manner.
You’ll often sit through a dialogue between characters and have no idea what they’re talking about. What’s worse is that these characters are voiced atrociously. Granted, Daymare: 1998 aims to have the same aesthetic and feel of retro horror movies and games, but there’s a difference between poorly executed funny dialogue and downright cringe-inducing dialogue.
Then we have the game’s poor visuals and stiff animations, but this can be excused due to the limited budget the Devs had to work with. And while that may be the case, it still doesn’t forgive how slow the characters move when executing an action, such as the game’s dreadful reload system that forces you slowly load in a full clip, or quickly swap in another clip at the loss of the previous one. Either way, the game will force you to keep track of all the magazines, and it just didn’t seem necessary to me.
While Daymare’s menu system can be applauded for its unique integration and how it makes players feel on edge at every given situation, sadly, the game will often force you to struggle between sorting out your inventory and dealing with the many zombies around.
In terms of gameplay, the execution is quite mixed. There are a lot of things Daymare does well. First, there’s the over the shoulder camera that’s perfect for the survival horror genre, i.e., Resident Evil 2, then there’s the limited supply of ammo and the high-level zombies the game will throw at you.
The game doesn’t hold back on the difficulty when it needs to, as it does its job in making the player feel unease, which is great. It’s just too bad that the movement is often clunky, and the animations are stiff, which results in movements and actions feeling sluggish.
Other things the game does well include the surprisingly detailed and aesthetically pleasing environmental design. You’ll see locations such as hospitals, neighboring towns, and backyards that most Resident Evil fans will be accustomed to. There’s also a lot of nods and references to the Resident Evil games fans will enjoy. Coupled with this is the ambiance soundtrack that enhances every uncomfortable situation giving the game a more eerie vibe. Then there’s the U.I. and menu system as mentioned earlier, which is designed impressively and feels unique from other games in the genre.
Daymare 1998 Review – Verdict
Overall, Daymare: 1998 is filled with ups and downs, most of which is due to its tight budget and a smaller team. It is a game specifically made for Resident Evil fans looking for a challenge. And while some of its issues can be fixed with patches and updates, such as some of its janky controls and movements, some like the voice acting cannot. Regardless, it’s still a great attempt at a 90s retro survival horror game that deserves at least a try.
[Editor’s Note: Daymare: 1998 was reviewed on Xbox One platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]