Daymare 1998 first started as a fan made remake of Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 which was built Unreal Engine 3 in 2014. Due to the fact the IPs and assets belonged the Capcom, Rod Lima, the fan behind this potential remake, couldn’t release it to the public and used this largely to learn how to use the Unreal Engine. At this point we can assume that once Capcom got wind of the interest in this, they had the video taken down so they could start working on the real thing; which released in 2019. Which then led to the game having anything RE related linked to it removed and was switch to Daymare 1998.
Daymare 1998 is a story told through three different perspective where everything begins As Liev, an H.A.D.E.S. (Hexacore Advanced Division for Extraction and Search) agent who has been sent, along with his team, to investigate an incident which teased a potential breach of a biological weapon. Once the special security team arrives on the scene, staff have transformed into zombie-like creature that spit green acid. As Liev, along with helicopter pilot Raven, and forest ranger Samuel, players will need to survive this new horror.
Daymare 1998 is a third person survival horror game similar to the Resident Evil series; obvious considering its origin. The game will have players navigate through different areas avoiding and taking out zombies while trying to find health items and ammo to increase their survival rate. The game is a throwback to classic horror games where the ammo is scarce, health items even more so and a bit of backtracking hell. To help you, you have a useful little thing called a D.I.D.; a Pipboy like device on your wrist where you can access your health, map, manage your inventory and reload your weapons. The latter is quite problematic. Daymare 1998 doesn’t simply let you reload your pistol normally. You have to find magazine which you fill with bullets and then thanks to a simple button, you can quick reload. Otherwise, you need to go into your D.I.D. and combine your ammo and gun. Thankfully, the shotgun reloads normally one bullet at a time (or full when holding the reload button). Additionnally, the reloading mechanic during boss fights makes things a thousand times harder than it should which can leads to dying over and over.
The main problem here is that if you didn’t preset any ammo for quick reloads and you’re surrounded by enemies you’re a bit screwed. Going into the D.I.D. doesn’t stop the game, so trying to reload when enemies are barring down on you is nigh impossible. So you have to be ready all times. Additionally, don’t expect any hand holding. While other survival horror titles give you clues as to what to do next, this one gives you the bare minimum and you have to do as much exploring as possible. There are also hidden doors which can be found when your D.I.D. beeps when you’re near one, but it’s mostly randomly pressing the Action button to find and open the door.
The game mixes a bevy of ideas from 90’s survival horror genre such as Resident Evil and even Silent Hill at times; which is a nice nod considering Konami is pretty much not doing anything with it. Without spoiling anything, more Silent Hill-esque mechanic of the game can make you waste ammo, which is overall scarce. Now, as a 90’s survival ammo staple, the ammo is scarce, depending on the way you play, the game can feel unbalanced. For example, I finished chapter 2, with a bevy of ammo as I did my best dodging zombie and because the storyline felt like it was heading towards a tough boss battle but it never happened. And then you jump into another character’s story where he needs to walk around in tight areas filled with zombies, but with a single clip of ammo. While they don’t take that many shots to down, it’s best to save your ammo for bigger enemies and bosses.
And what happens if you run out of ammo? Well good luck trying to punch your way through a horde of enemies as there isn’t defensive items. Thankfully, if you stop and think, zombies can be avoided by baiting them in a certain area, then running around them. Unfortunately, tight nit areas with little to no space to move around, running out of ammo will be your doom. Running is another overly complicated mechanic. You walk, jog and run. Running and punching will drain your stamina (yes there’s a stamina bar); which adds a bit of a tense feeling but your stamina will refill when you walk or stop moving.
The presentation is unfortunately a big letdown. The game looks like a late Xbox 360 game; which is surprising considering that prior to the game’s console release, I kept seeing beautiful and creepy visuals from the PC version; salivating at the gory possibilities. Unfortunately, the game is a mess; still playable, but it’s full of glitches. The game stutters, has questionable hit detection; especially when you need to melee your way out of enemies. It also temporarily freezes at times and visuals sometimes don’t load properly, leaving you with a blurry mess on screen. Zombies look like fine, but don’t expect RE2 Remake quality here and character models are shiny à la Resident Evil Code Veronica’s introduction video. When characters talk, lips barely move and don’t synch at all with the text. Furthermore, the text in files you find and the D.I.D. is so freakin’ tiny, you need binoculars to read it from your couch. Audio wise, the score is an ambient and creepy, also tense at the wrong time just to prompt scares but it complements the game really well. The audio soundbytes are often out of sync; often you’ll fire your weapon and you’ll hear the gunshot 30 secondes later. Which is both sad and hilarious at the same time.
While far from perfect, Daymare 1998 is still a worthwhile trip and a great template for the birth of a new series (hopefully). It’s a clear homage to early 90s survival horror titles, but clearly rough the edges. Clunky pistol reloading mechanics, audio issues, sub-par visuals by today’s standards and a myriad of technical issues won’t stop you from enjoying this throwback. Definitely worth better than Resident Evil 3 Remake content wise and a smarter investment.
- Great homage to classic 90s horror games
- Genuinely scary
- Better than RE3R content wise
- Clunky reloading mechanics
- Audio is a mess
- Subpar visuals