When it comes to survival horror, the first thing that many will want to talk about are the classic titles that kicked it all off; the Resident Evil’s and the Silent Hill’s of this world. Of course, since that point, survival horror has come a long way, evolving a lot, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who appreciate the roots of where it all began. With DAYMARE: 1998, that’s what the focus is centred around.
For those that are unaware, DAYMARE: 1998 wasn’t always the game it is now. In fact, before the official rise of the Resident Evil 2 Remake, what is now DAYMARE: 1998 was originally titled Resident Evil 2 Reborn, but of course with a surge in popularity and Capcom cottoning onto the idea, there was always going to be little chance of this exciting project ever seeing the light of day. Fortunately, with a fine rebranding and a slightly new direction taken, the classic survival horror experience lasted long enough to make it to us and DAYMARE: 1998 is now available to the masses on PC via Steam – with an Xbox One release also expected later on.
DAYMARE: 1998 is a game that sticks with the tried and tested formula of players having to attend a small American country town – Keen Sight – after the outbreak of a virus which has turned the inhabitants into blood thirsty savages. The game is played from a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective, and if you’re a fan of Resident Evil then chances are you’re going to be a big fan of DAYMARE: 1998.
Right from the off, DAYMARE has it all. It has the dark and dreary corners that fill you with dread, it has the shadows that bounce off the wall, forcing you to double-check every corner twice, and it has that tense feeling that you get when you are fully aware you’re about to get set upon by a horde of bloodthirsty zombies.
It’s the simple things like this that many horror games of today are missing, yet with DAYMARE: 1998, the core focus is to go back to those classic roots. From the off you can see the clear resemblance to those classic Resident Evil and Silent Hill titles we are all so fond of.
As for the story, players take control of three different characters, each of which have a very different outlook on the outbreak. One is an H.A.D.E.S. operative who works for the Hexacore Biogenetics company who have caused the outbreak – essentially Umbrella for Resi fans out there – as well as a helicopter pilot and a forest ranger. Each character has a unique outlook on the events that are unfolding before them and different objectives to achieve. It makes a nice change to be able to experience such different levels of importance in a zombie outbreak rather than simply taking on the role of sole survivor or a spec ops agent.
Whilst the game clearly holds a lot of qualities from its days as the Resident Evil 2 remake fan project, the developer has certainly put in enough of an effort to ensure DAYMARE has its own unique feel with collectibles holding plenty of information tidbits that relate to this individual outbreak experience. There are enough slight changes to the overall experience that help it feel more like a heavily influenced spiritual successor rather than a straight up copy.
Some of the unique changes include simple things like requiring players to have a magazine in the quick slot in order to reload weapons, or forcing them to lose out on bullets in a magazine that’s been swapped out. For me it’s these sort of things that really make up the experience and can prove an important part of the gameplay, with some occasions forcing players into tactical thinking should they suddenly find themselves overrun with swarms of incoming enemies. Of course, this isn’t an entirely original mechanic, but it is an interesting one that helps keep the resource management as intense as ever.
Equally health has its own way of becoming a huge deal, with you being able to overdose on medication should you use too many healing items within a short space of time, which can then lead to adverse effects rather than health increasing benefits.
One area that could do with a little spring clean however is in the shooting and whilst DAYMARE: 1998 is certainly a welcome viral outbreak experience, shooting feels stiff to say the least with enemies barely flinching in reaction to a bullet being sunk into their decaying bodies. Now I know they are zombies, I get it, but even in titles such as the Resident Evil 2 remake that has already made its arrival there is still a reaction to bullets and weapons making contact. DAYMARE doesn’t feel quite so involved in that respect.
I’ll be honest though, I can’t talk negatively about DAYMARE for long and this is certainly a game that has seen impressive attention to detail applied in terms of visuals, especially when it comes to locations, enemies, weapons and the general look and feel of things. When mixed with the accomplished sound design that really pins on that feeling of dread, there is plenty to be shouting about during your time with DAYMARE: 1998.
At present whilst there will be few that dare argue against Resident Evil 2 on Xbox One for being the best classic horror adventure, DAYMARE: 1998’s upcoming arrival is sure to be one that will at the very least set a stern challenge. It has character, it has scares and it has atmosphere, and with plenty of puzzles that require clever thinking, this is without a doubt the best non-Resident Evil, Resident Evil game you’ll find anytime soon.
Many thanks go out to Destructive Creations for providing access to DAYMARE:1998 on Steam.