Daymare 1998 started as a Resident Evil 2 remake. No, not THAT Resident Evil 2 remake, but one that never saw the light of day. Developer Invader Studios wanted to see if they can create a classic survival horror game and thought recreating RE2 with modern features would be good exercise.
When Capcom learned about their project, they sent Invader Studios a “cease and desist,” but also invited them to Osaka to talk about their work. From that visit, Daymare 1998 was born.
In the level I got to try at Gamescom 2019, you are introduced to Sam, one of the game’s three playable protagonists. Sam is a Forest Ranger, so he knows his way around a gun. But his weapon skills aren’t what makes him an interesting hero – Sam has visions caused by “Daymare Syndrom.”
Daymare Syndrom is at the center of the game’s story and might be the result of a deadly virus outbreak. It causes anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. It also causes the dead to rise and eat the living.
The level opens with Sam returning home to find his wife murdered. He then proceeds to follow the ghostly images of the murderer and discovers he must reach the hospital, an environment horror fans should be familiar with. We are then introduced to the game’s main enemy – the zombie.
Daymare 1998 goes way back to the days of classic survival horror games like Resident Evil (not surprising considering its origins). However, it also borrows from more modern titles like Dead Space. For example, the game never pauses when you check your ammo or solve a puzzle, and you can even remove some HUD elements for a more immersive experience.
Combat also feels more modern, with an over-the-shoulder camera and the option to move around while you fire. It’s as straightforward as third-person combat comes: zombies shamble towards you, and you shoot them in the head.
I did feel like the game forced me into combat situations even when I tried to avoid them. Sam’s first level is very linear, so you are funneled down several paths filled with zombies. I chose to try and converse ammo by shooting them in the legs so they’ll fall down and I can run past them. But once I reached the end of the road, I was trapped within a small shed, with all the zombies I avoided now shuffling in an orderly line straight behind me. With nowhere to go, I had no choice but to use all my ammo to survive.
Despite that one incident, resource management does play a key role in Daymare 1998. Health items are rare, and you usually won’t have enough bullets to dispose of every zombie in a level. Plus, later levels are supposed to be less linear and more open, giving you more options.
Action and combat are only one part of the survival horror formula; the other one is the puzzles. Towards the end of the demo, I had to solve three of them to activate a cable car. I had to figure out the right button sequence through trial and error, turn on specific lights on a panel, and replace a fuse (there’s always a fuse).
While they were challenging, they weren’t particularly original, which is a problem that affects every aspect of Daymare 1998. It’s a classic survival horror game that pays homage to the greats and does so rather well. But the demo I played didn’t introduce anything that can set it apart from the likes of Resident Evil and Silent Hill.
Then again, the Gamescom 2019 demo showed a very earlier level in the game and was only meant to set the stage.
Daymare 1998 is a game for old-school fans. It’s a game for people who looked at the recent Resident Evil 2 Remake and wished it was just a tiny bit more true to its source. If you fit this description, be sure to follow the game’s Steam page and maybe wishlist it while you’re there.
Daymare 1998 is coming to PC on September 17, and to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at a later, still unknown date.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.