Invader studios started this project off as a fan made Resident Evil 2 remake in the unreal engine. Obviously, that plan had to get scrapped when Capcom made the actual official release for the Resident Evil 2 remake. One that did extraordinarily well sales wise. Obviously this affected Invader’s project but they did end up improvising. I have to say that Invader Studios winged it and struck some pretty solid gold. Daymare: 1998 is a great game. Obviously it’s not extraordinary or entirely original knowing the original basis of the game, but it’s pretty damn good.
It’s a time capsule back to the 90s of horror video games. This makes sense considering the game was meant to be a modern take on the original Resident Evil 2. That’s almost exactly what this game is. In every aspect besides graphics, the game is straight out of the 90s.
That part was made very evident to me as soon as the intro took place. One that captured the feeling of old action movie soldiers screaming orders perfectly. The cheesy dialogue and corny written lines just added to the atmosphere. A lot of people have commented on this saying the writing was just bad and corny but I actually think that was the intent behind it. Invader Studios wanted us to feel like we dropped into an old fashioned zombie movie. That’s almost exactly what this game was.
You get a choice of three characters to play as. An elite soldier, a helicopter pilot and a forest ranger. The game’s story is tailored in a way that the three’s paths do intertwine at different intervals. Remember Resident Evil 6? It was kind of like that. However, within the boundaries of gameplay itself, nothing really changes. I did wish it felt different to play as a ranger vs an elite soldier but it didn’t. The only unique traits had to do with how the characters reacted to what was happening. Other than that, same inventory, same variety of skills, etc.
Even this aspect of the game, down to how characters interacted, was nicely corny. The setting of the game is your average run of the mill zombie outbreak. One that overruns a small town that you’ve gotten yourself roped up into. This is another part where the different characters have different agendas. As the soldier, you’re here to investigate. As the pilot, you’re trying to escape, and as the ranger, you’re trying to help. If you’re a Leon Kennedy fan, I’d suggest going for the Ranger route. However, obviously, the optimal experience on a story standpoint is to do a playthrough of all three campaigns. There’s really no gain in it, however, besides getting the lore down. As I said above, the gameplay itself doesn’t change by much at all.
What’s the gameplay like, though? Let’s jump right into it. Daymare: 1998 plays as a survival horror game. Unlike most horror games out there, you aren’t defenseless. Fighting back is an option, though you have to be very conservative about that. This is where you can really see the Resident Evil vibes kicking in. Inventory management is very crucial. You aren’t going to find bullets pouring out of corpses like in your average action game. At most, you probably should fire under 150 bullets per playthrough.
This is also why another major part of the game is in exploration of the map. The maps and levels aren’t exactly big sandbox environments. Rather, they’re linear corridors and closed spaces with puzzles blocking access to new areas. Solving these puzzles is what actually opens the map more and more. Besides just expanding your playground, you also unlock shortcuts and connections between areas that originally needed you to circle around the whole building.
Besides looking for ways to unlock the puzzle and resources to defend yourself, another thing to keep an eye out for is lore. While there is a coherent story filled with cutscenes and scripted events, most of the game’s story is tucked away within the map itself. This is why you need to be on the lookout for dossiers, documents and other tidbits of information that unveil the cause of the outbreak in the first place. I feel like if you’re the nosy prying eye type, you should play as the soldier. His role, after all, was figuring out what the hell is going on.
The enemies of the game do vary a bit in ways that I won’t spoil though they are all reanimated corpses, aka zombies. You won’t find them in hordes, of course. Instead, you’re going to bump into one when turning the corner of a dimly lit corridor. The zombies aren’t runners either, rather stragglers that can only kill you if you’re not paying attention. I feel like their design and existence in the game is solely to create suspense, scares and to remind you why you’re in the game. Not once was I killed by them in my playthrough.
Daymare 1998 did a great job of creating suspense. That feeling of dread in your bones, coupled with the distant groaning of a hungry walker was deliciously terrifying. My recommendation is wearing some beefy headphones to play this game because the sound design was pretty dope. Also, there were other ways of creating suspense that Invader Studios utilized, such as having a timed level. One that really made players have to run towards the end of the mission as soon as they could.
The puzzle design of the game was nothing too special to be honest. Pick this up, attach it here, find the keys, go here, etc. The game made players rely on their own memory quite a lot when they found an object of interest. It resulted in a lot of oh yeah moments when you remembered what you were supposed to do. There was also a fun little hacking mini-game you needed to do for that extra ammo clip every now and then. While the game was easy, you only had as many attempts at it as the number of hacking cables you had. Everything in the game is scarce. so don’t let it go to waste at any point.
So yes, Daymare 1998 is a corny Resident Evil 2 clone in modern times. Does that make it a bad game? Not at all, in fact, I definitely recommend it. Can’t wait for a Leon Kennedy mod to get added. Looking at you PC community!