With no offense to the developers, the similarities that Daymare: 1998 shares with the old Resident Evil games are immediately obvious. Not only does Daymare: 1998 share that characteristic, over the shoulder, claustrophobic view of that franchise, but also the core gameplay elements that defined the hardcore horror survival genre back in the day. Things such as the aiming system, inventory management, exploration, and movement, are the key things that solidify these types of games within their own category, and these are the elements that can both make you love or hate a game like this.
The game takes place in the small town of Keen Sight, in the aftermath of some mysterious accident that started turning people into mindless zombies on a secret research facility. The player will have the chance to play as three different characters, with each providing a different perspective of the events that unfold around them as the infection spreads through the city and its surroundings.
During your stay on Keen Sight, you’ll get to explore zombie-infested woods and streets, secret research facilities, and the local hospital, all while facing an ever more challenging series of zombies. Daymare: 1998 is not a run and gun zombie game like I’ve already mentioned, the closest games to it are the first two Resident Evil games, and this is reflected in the layout and pace of the levels.
There are no open-ended areas, most missions and levels are pretty linear, but sometimes there is a fair degree of backtracking as you engage in some fetch-like quest to progress to the next area. Nonetheless, exploration is rewarded but, for the most part, it’s not necessary, if you make your shots count and manage to avoid the infected onslaught.
Very much like the old-school survival horror experience, Daymare: 1998’s gameplay is extremely methodical and slow-paced. Players are rewarded for taking their time and properly aiming their shots at zombies’ heads and making each of their shots count. This is mostly due to a few major factors, how tough enemies can be, limited inventory space, and ammunition scarcity. With limited inventory space, inventory management is vital, to ensure that you always have the necessary ammunition or enhancing drugs that you might require at any given time.
While Daymare: 1998 shooting is fairly standard, involving no recoil control at all, the game takes a rather interesting approach as far as reloading your weapons go, which some people might frown at. For weapons that use magazines (pistols and the SMG), you can quickly reload another magazine by dropping the previous one to the ground, or you can slowly reload it and place it back in your inventory. Furthermore, you also find ammunition in the form of ammo boxes, which means that have to manually insert the bullets into each magazine before being able to reload. This is a rather slow process, especially given the time it takes to open up your inventory, but I was able to quickly get the hang of it and quickly reload even while enemies were chasing me. With all that said, the game suffers from a severe lack of weapon variety, as it only really grants you access to a shotgun, an SMG, and a couple of pistols of both heavy and standard caliber.
Despite being limited in some aspects, like different types of enemies and that of weapon variety, Daymare: 1998 provides a good mixture of puzzle-solving, exploration, combat, and bosses. Puzzles were actually a big surprise for me, mostly because they’re all unique, and for someone who tends to steer away from puzzle games, I can say that Invader Studios really nailed it. Unfortunately, bosses are also one of the weakest points of the game, as they’re very limited in terms of design. Apart from a specific boss encounter, kiting gets the job done, there are no special mechanics or ways to approach these bosses, which is a shame.
As far as looks go, Daymare: 1998 is not quite the looker, but I’d say that I didn’t feel like the graphics really impacted my immersion during my playthrough. The narrow hallways and tight indoor spaces do a decent job in setting the scene, but the eerie ambience is propelled further thanks to the sound design, which a lot of times can result in extremely unsettling moments. I also feel obligated to mention the fact that despite my PC barely going over the minimum recommended system specifications, I was able to run the game without a single hitch, even while running almost maxed-out settings.
Daymare: 1998 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and honestly, the game doesn’t really excel in any other aspect other than invoking that feeling of what a true old-school survival horror game should feel like. This is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, as Daymare: 1998 is good enough for what it is. It took me a little over 8 hours to beat the game, which felt pretty reasonable, as it didn’t feel like the game was dragging itself. Nonetheless, there’s no real replay value other than going after any collectibles you might have missed on your first run. With that in mind, and despite enjoying my time with it, I wouldn’t really recommend this game, unless you’re a hardcore fan of the old-school horror survival genre.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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DAYMARE: 1998 Review
Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 6/10
Daymare: 1998 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and honestly, the game doesn’t really excel in any other aspect other than invoking that feeling of what a true old-school survival horror game should feel like.