Fighter Of The Nightmare!

HIGH Playing as a psychopath early on is enjoyable.

LOW The voice acting and script are laughable.

WTF Why are the sexy nurses from Silent Hill 2 in this game?

I’m a longtime fan of survival horror games, ever since the first Resident Evil. In fact, I picked up the recent Resident Evil 2 remake and had a blast, but I thought that something was off about it — something was missing. Was the improved script and voice acting to blame? Then came Daymare: 1998 , an homage to old-school survival horror. I thought going retro might scratch the itch that RE2 didn’t quite reach, but I should have been careful what I wished for…

Daymare: 1998 is an over-the-shoulder third person shooter developed by Invader Studios, based in Italy. It apes classic survivor horror conventions, mixing shooting and avoiding zombies with making progress by solving puzzles and picking up items. It’s pretty standard for the genre though the controls can feel loose at times — aiming feels imprecise and inaccurate, and the shooting is unresponsive thanks to some clear input lag.

The developers add a new twist to the classic survival horror formula with their reloading system. The player has empty clips that need to be loaded with bullets in the inventory menu, and then they use these clips to reload their gun during gameplay.

I assume this reloading mechanic is meant to add tension and ensure the player is preparing sufficiently, but it felt like needless busywork and became a frustrating layer in boss battles, which are generally extended wars of attrition. The inventory itself is slow to bring up, and cumbersome to navigate. Also, while it might be a nod to UI designs of the past, the green-on-black color scheme is an eyesore that makes reading maps a strain.

Despite this roughness, the early signs were good. Daymare‘s introduction cutscene featured a voiceover from someone called the Cleaner sharing nonsense about plans and pawns over an image of a chessboard. It then cut to a military team in a helicopter on their way to a mission. The dialogue is on-the-nose with characters bluntly stating their backgrounds — it sounded ridiculous, and I assumed that the developers were aware of this and paying homage to the genre’s past by being intentionally awful. It was hilarious!

This carried on when taking control of the main character Liev. He’s best described as psychopathic, and this also added to what felt was an intentionally schlocky vibe. Playing as a bad guy rarely happens in survival horror so I was intrigued, but some inexplicable things occur, resulting in a character switch part way through chapter two.

…It is at this point where Daymare: 1998 starts going downhill as the pace slows to a crawl and remains that way the rest of the campaign.

There is a good sense of escalation up to this point, but the second character cools it off by starting with no weapons and an extended, drawn-out setup. It feels like a typical game introduction, but Daymare: 1998 already had an introduction in the first chapter, why repeat it? Later, a third character is introduced and makes their way through a linear city environment that is again repeated.

The settings themselves turn boring thanks to cliched horror levels like a hospital and a sewer. The hospital setting in particular felt like a slog to get through — it was too long, and easy to get lost in by being a dark environment with little variation, and missing key items resulted in an antagonizing backtrack.

Rather than simply giving it a pass as homage, these things instead suggest that the developers lack fresh ideas. For example, the hospital boasts a variation of the sexy zombie nurses that first appeared in Silent Hill 2. Their appearance in subsequent Silent Hill games made little sense, and they make even less sense in Daymare

The graphics are a mixed bag. When standing still, things look perfectly fine and sharp, with reasonably detailed backgrounds making good use of lighting. However, there’s some odd-looking motion blur and jaggies around the characters when they move, and faces are poorly constructed — their weird angular shapes and lack of expression are unnatural. The zombies are poorly animated with odd jerking motions and their grab range is much larger than it appears, not matching the visual cues.

While Daymare: 1998 suffers from several issues, this project is also hurt by the recent Resident Evil 2 and 3. Daymare was originally conceived as a fan-made Resident Evil 2 remake that likely would have been received as a treat by fans craving classic RE. However, Capcom actually remaking the source material that Daymare is based on makes it feel painfully redundant, even aside from its problems.

I was hoping that Daymare: 1998‘s intentionally schlocky feel and cheesy voice acting it would result in an enjoyably old-school experience that Capcom’s re-releases don’t quite nail, but the technical issues, dull action and lack of fresh ideas mean it’s never more than a pale imitation of the real thing.

Rating: 3 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Invader Studios and published by Destructive Creations and All In! Games.  It is currently available on PC, PS4 and XBO and reviewed on the PS4 Pro. This game was reviewed with code provided by the publisher. Approximately 13 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Language. The official ESRB description reads as follows: This is a third-person survival horror game in which players assume the role of human characters trying to survive a zombie outbreak. As players explore a research facility, they use pistols, machine guns, and shotguns to kill zombies and mutated creatures. Some attacks result in decapitation and/or dismemberment of enemy creatures, which is often accompanied by large blood-splatter effects. Cutscenes depict additional acts of intense violence: a man’s arm ripped from his body; a man’s head ripped open; a woman’s neck snapped. The words “f**k,” “c*ck,” and “sh*t” are heard in the game.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes. Navigating the inventory and the maps may be a struggle for those with eyesight problems, as words and icons are unclear on green and black backgrounds.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game uses audio cues to inform the player of zombie locations. Without these cues there is little indication of enemy positions outside the periphery, and with the unrealistic grab ranges and the extended vomiting animations, this lack of cues could result in a frustrating experience for players with hearing issues. The game comes with subtitles which are reasonably clear but quite small and can’t be resized.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.

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2 years ago

Absolute shame! Had high hopes for this game and was really looking forward to some over the top acting with a sprinkle of zombie action, might consider playing the first chapter but I doubt I’ll be buying it solely for that reason! Looks like the RE remakes will be on the cards!
Thanks for the solid review, keep them coming!