What started off as a tech demo of a fan-made remake of the critically-acclaimed nineties title Resident Evil 2 eventually blossomed into what is essentially a love letter to the survival-horror genre. Developed by Invader Studios and published by Destructive Creations and All In! Games, Daymare: 1998 emulates the aforementioned series quite well. While it’s a tad rough around the edges, what it has on offer is bound to impress.
H.A.D.E.S., a mysterious black ops team sent by the government, is tasked with infiltrating a secret research station in order to acquire a deadly biological weapon capable of turning people into zombies. However, after an unexpected plot twist, the weapons are deployed, thus infecting a quaint little town and the local populace. The game alternates from the perspective of three different playable characters. There are so many familiar tropes to be found, from evil pharmaceutical companies to secret underground facilities, and it’s all wrapped within a pretty interesting plot. Its five chapters are no doubt sizeable; you’ll be getting well over eight hours of playtime from it.
The levels are fairly streamlined and linear, but they’re well-designed and contain the occasion puzzle here and there, most of which aren’t too daunting. There’s a section where you need to rush through the streets coated in toxic gas, founding temporary solace in civilian homes. Meanwhile, another chapter has you backtracking and exploring through a hospital, which feels a lot more spacious and open. You don’t need to explore every nook and cranny, but there are three-digit lockers and hackable doors that hold valuable treats inside.
Daymare: 1998 is a good-looking game, from the nasty-looking monsters to its gloomy and well designed set pieces. The soundtrack may not be as memorable as a Resident Evil OST, yet it’s fittingly atmospheric and . While its visuals are impressive, the same can’t be said about a few of the stiff animations, which are more apparent in the cutscenes, or its ragdoll enemies. While the voice acting around the board is good stuff, there are a few corny performances that sound a bit out of place.
There are plenty of flesh-eating zombies to look out for here, and they’re a big threat. Some of them can be found hidden around corners, ready to be bumped into without warning, which feels cheap. Button-mashing will help shake them off. They can be stunned temporarily if you don’t have the ammo or patience. There aren’t too many different zombie types, but the meaner ones are annoying bullet-sponges. Thankfully, there’s just enough ammo and health supplies to keep you going, along with some less useful consumables that replenish your stamina or allow you to detect items from afar. Some goodies can be combined and crafted, or even stored at save points.
There are a few neat that have been thrown into the mix, too. There are different ammo types to use with your guns, which partially makes up for the fact that there are few weapons on offer. Save points allow you to exchange batches of items for others. While fiddling around with the map or inventory screen, in the form of a wrist-mounted gadget known as a D.I.D., won’t pause the game but still allows you to walk around. You can even perform quick reloads that’ll make you load your weapon faster, while simultaneously dropping your clip on the floor to be retrieved later, which is useful when you’re in a tight spot with little time to prepare yourself. Plus, the game will autosave on occasions, though considering how spacious these can be, they might end up thrusting you in an awkward position with low ammo or health, and no way of backtracking to reclaim some of your stored inventory.
Daymare: 1998 pays homage to the survival horror games of yesteryear, while adding a few unique features of its own. The end result is bloody good stuff. While bullet-sponge enemies, iffy cutscene animations and the limited weapons on offer doesn’t do the game any favours, it still stands strong as a very satisfying shooter that doesn’t skimp out on putting up a challenge. This one’s well worth a crack if you can’t get enough of fighting off the living dead.