Daymare 1998 tries to mix classic Resident Evil with modern horror like Dead Space, but is sabotaged by its own old-school obsession.

Daymare 1998 started as a fan remake of Resident Evil 2. Capcom quickly put a stop to it but encouraged Invader Studios to take all the hard work they did and turn it into an original IP; so they did.

The result is a mix of classic Resident Evil gameplay with modern elements inspired by the likes of Dead Space. As a fan of survival horror, I was very curious to see how the two eras of horror games combine in Daymare 1998. Not so well, is what I found out.

The ‘90s Called

Daymare 1998 feels a bit out of place in the year 2019. If you told me it’s a Resident Evil clone that came out in the late ‘90s or early 2000s, I wouldn’t question it for a second. I wouldn’t even bother googling it.

It has the same throwaway story most other games of its type have: a virus that turns people to zombies, a shady organization, and some conspiracy or another. To tell you the truth, I can barely remember who anyone is or what is going, and I’m still playing the game. I will admit that the story does throw some curveballs at you, and I was surprised more than once.

But the story isn’t the only thing Daymare copies from the cheese action-horror games of the 1990s. It also digs up the clunky 3D graphics and terrible, terrible dialogues. I’m not sure if it’s on purpose or not (part of me wants to believe that it is), but the voice acting is just as bad as the first Resident Evil games, with slightly broken English and cringe lines. It’s definitely reminiscent of the survival horror games of old, but these aren’t the parts I want to relive.

Still, it’s all very nostalgic, which is precisely what indie developer Invader Studios was going for. As a fan of these sorts of games, it all felt very familiar, in a good way. I had no problems getting into the groove of shooting zombies, carefully managing my resources, and solving weird puzzles.

Losing Controls

What I did have problems with are were the controls. They are simply terrible. I played Daymare with a mouse and keyboard, as I do most games that require pin-point accuracy for headshots, and it was just awful.

You can’t navigate in-game menus, like your inventory, with your mouse for some reason. You switch tabs by pressing 1-4, and the rest of the keys are even less intuitive. It makes dealing with your inventory and performing simple actions, like putting more bullets into your gun, a real hassle, and a slow hassle at that.

The worst part is that the keyboard keys can’t be remapped, so you’re stuck with these weird choices like Q to cancel and X to do a 180 turn (which I wasn’t aware I could do until two-thirds into the game).

It’s not only the keyboard controls that are weak, but it’s also how the game and your character controls. The game often needs multiple key presses to register a command, which can lead to a lot of frustration when you need to reload or melee a zombie in close quarters quickly. Even with the modern over-the-shoulder camera and freedom of movement, you can’t really do anything quickly in Daymare 1998. Your character is heavy, clumsy and unwieldy, and controls like more like a truck than a person.

This Tank Wasn’t Build for Combat

Control becomes a real issue in combat, especially when you’re trying to avoid it. You can usually sprint past zombies since they are quite slow (though sprinting requires you to hold down at least three buttons). But try and maneuver around faster enemies, and you’re in a pickle.

Most enemies deal a significant amount of damage, with a few killing you with as little as two hits. They can also take quite a lot of punishment before going down. So you’re constantly short on pretty much everything. It’s fine, this is a survival horror game, after all, but it doesn’t always feel fair. Zombies will hide around corners, some enemies can’t die and will get back up after a few seconds, and bosses are… well…

Daymare 1998 boss

Boss fights are probably my least favorite part of Daymare 1998. Their only purpose is to make sure you waste all your ammo and health items. These fights are clever or particularly challenging – they just take forever. All bosses are bullet sponges, and the only way to beat them is to run around in circles and shoot at them – a lot. It’s dull, uninspired and frankly rather frustrating. I think Daymare 1998 was the first time I ragequit a game in (checks when Metal Gear Rising came out) over five years.

Game Like It’s 1998

Daymare 1998 is a modern Resident Evil clone, but not a particularly good one. It’s a commendable effort by a small team that nails the vibe of early survival horror titles, but it still needs some more work before it reaches its full potential.

There’s a lot to like in Daymare. It has tons of references to 90’s games and movies (perhaps just a tad too many), it runs smoothly, and shooting zombies is always satisfying. If you’re a survival horror fan and want to play a game made by people with the same passion for the classics – go ahead.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the controls – they really are the stuff of nightmares.


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