Review: Daymare 1998 (PS4)

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This is not the “Shall We Dance?” number from The King and I, by the way. Halp!!

DaymereWhile it’s not trying to completely reinvent the wheel (I mean, come on, look at the title!), a few very cool modern elements seep into Invader Studios’ and publisher Destructive Creations’ homage to Capcom’s much beloved Resident Evil series as well as genre films of the 90’s, Daymare 1998 ($39.99) that make it work despite the game sometimes working against the player. Assorted undead-like creeps, puzzles galore, and plenty of tense thrills are all here for those who like the survival horror genre, and while boss fights against too bullet-spongy enemies can be a pain, overall, I found the game quite nostalgic and appealing, warts and all.

First and foremost, some of the controls are needlessly complicated. There’s a basic walk (Left Analog) and light jog (L1) for its heroes, but running flat out requires stamina and pressing/holding two buttons and you can only sprint for a brief time before that stamina depletes. Reloading has what, three modes? Granted, there’s a neat touch of realism in the optional the need to load ammo into clips, then clips into guns. But it also adds a bit too much tension in areas with multiple monsters lurking and the need to switch weapons out in a fast way (there’s a human-like delay here and not a game-like rapid switch). Oddly, boss fights just cough up spare ammo clips for you because trying to search for empty clips and spare ammo during them would be too brutal.

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“Knock-Knock…” Uh, there’s no door, pal – just some room to RUN LIKE HELL.

The Dick Tracy-style system device worn on one wrist is nice looking and all, but can get a little too complicated if you don’t take time to check out all the things you can do with item combinations and get with the crafting. Being very methodical helps here, as well as realizing the game’s throwback nature means it’s going to feel a bit intentionally dated in some aspects, like the arcane save system (there’s no save anywhere feature). Well, if you hoard too much, there are also item boxes located in the darndest places that can force a bit of paranoid backtracking if you suddenly realize you might need space for something extra along your route or need to drop items but want to store them. Okay, perhaps that’s more my hoarding nature in games, but you know what I mean.

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Preview- Daymare: 1998 Keeps The Old School Zombie Thing Alive

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So yeah, I’ve been playing Invader Studios’ (with aid from Destructive Creations and All In! Games) fun and scary Daymere: 1998 on STEAM for a short while and it’s pretty darn good (and thankfully, also coming to PS4 and Xbox One gamers at some point), although the story and character models could use a little polishing up. The game is so far, a decent enough mimic/response to Capcom’s much praised classic Resident Evil 2 so much so that it looks and feels at times like a newer entry, but intentionally filled with a certain old-school style that make it feel purposely nostalgic.

Here’s a game trailer to peruse:

While the human character models need a bit of work, the assorted undead are all appropriately creepy and the scares are timed to make you jump out of your skin when you’re caught off guard. There’s some method to the madness on display, as the game certainly gets the feelings of fright going on a few fronts. Granted, yes, it does start off initially slow as you get your bearings and yes, the UI could be a lot more intuitive. The game also has a few intentionally draggy moments in spots. But when you’re least expecting it (or because you will be), the tension is definitely there in the quietest of spaces when you think you can take a breather. Overall, it all blends into a horror-fest that’s pretty enjoyable, warts and all.

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The hammy voice acting is well done (funny how that works, right?) and I liked that some animations are a bit clunky, but these elements both fit the era in question. In it’s current form, it’s good, but a few patches away from greatness, I think. That and the game is in need of critical response that appreciates what’s going on here rather than attempting to bash the game for its particular weaknesses where an homage is clearly intended. As a fan of some horror games, this one’s not a bad way to whittle away a few hours on a rainy weekend with. Hey, I like this one a lot, stuff that needs work and all. The overall spirit is what’s important in a project like this and that’s going on in spades here.

-GW