Extended Review: Daymare 1998

90s horror reimagined

Thanks to the folks at Destructive Creations and Just In Games, over the last week I’ve been spending some time with Daymare: 1998. Like all good stories, this title is set in and heavily influenced by the 90s. In particular, this takes the form of many slight nods and overt themes to honour the origins of the Resident Evil Series. It’s got some great ideas, and it has some good gameplay, but is another title which comes with its own unique issues.

The Basics

Daymare: 1998 is a third person action adventure which drills deeply down into 90s classic survival horror titles. Playing with a small selection of characters through your time with the title, you’ll need to uncover and escape from the secrets of Keen Sight. The title does really well on capturing that 90s survival horror spirit. Whether it’s staring at familiar typewriters, familiar fonts or well thought out puzzles, there’s a lot to like here. The action itself works fairly well, even though headshots are often not enough to drop our addled foes.

The atmospheric work brings a lot to the zombie infested table

It’s great to have a fresh story, characters and puzzles to run through which really keeps that classic feel. Combining bullets with magazines can be fiddly, but will be familiar to horror veterans. You’ll start the game in a secret testing facility, where you’ll start to uncover a fairly deep lore, as well as grabbing virus information. Moving on from there, you’ll need to explore the town of Keen Sight to unwrap the background of the town.

Every so often you’ll also come across files directing you to the real life Daymare website. I’m not sure how I feel about this all in all, as while it’s certainly a different way of bringing lore to players, it breaks the fourth wall substantially. There’s many times I’ve grabbed a file with real-world directions and ignored the extra story as a phone or computer wasn’t in easy reach.

Parent’s Eye View

Daymare: 1998 is rated by PEGI at 18, and by the ESRB as Mature 17+. These ratings are mostly down to violence within the title, as well as fear and bad language. Language within Daymare is rife, as you might expect from those trapped in a zombie apocalypse. Plenty of “upper level” language in the title which isn’t suitable for minors. The developers have done well to create a great survival horror atmosphere, and even as an adult there have been a few jump scares.

In terms of violence, it has everything you’d expect from a survival horror Resi clone. While shooting you’ll find blood and decapitation, and while under attack the details are up close and personal. Overall I’d say this is definitely not one for the younger members of the family, and probably not one to play in front of them either.

The style of story text will be instantly familiar to 90s horror lovers

The Run Down

Visuals – Lacking: In most areas the visuals are essentially ok, and I have to give props for the lighting which is well implemented. Character models for enemies seem a little lacking however, and while poor character animation in cut scenes is very in keeping with a Resident Evil homage, it’s not something we should be seeing these days.

Up close and personal, effects and edges do need some polish. While it doesn’t ruin the title, it is noticeable and feels fairly last gen.

Audio – Good: We could do with a little more in terms of epic cinematics but the audio is fairly good within Daymare. The only exception comes for Voice Acting, but that’s mostly due to the narrative rather than the actual voices themselves. Effects are well created and overall the audio does well to draw you in and immerse you in Keen Sight.

Narrative – Lacking This has been a really hard element to mark with Daymare. The background lore is actually really deep and rich, and you can spend some time finding deeper elements to the main story. In contrast to this, sadly the main story as told in the cut scenes I’ve found to be poor, and the scripts badly written. Starting the game laying as a singularly unlikable character hasn’t helped matters, and it’s not a story I have enjoyed overall.

The fourth wall breaking real world notes are another area where I’m quite torn on the narrative as well. It is a fairly unique system, and allows access to further story elements via a password used on their real life website. Overall, I’d really rather these elements were written in game, simply to allow easier access. Not everybody has a computer or device handy next to them while they’re playing. Even those that do, aren’t likely to want to be picking it up every few minutes to login and read new story elements.

Replay – Fair: Ultimately the replay value is fair for this style of game. There are plenty of notes and pickups around the different areas which you’ll need to grab if you want to understand the full story. The in depth and slow moving nature of the title does work against this slightly, as going back to pick up elements you missed the first time will require a separate play though, rather than being able to revisit the area.

Overall The Pixel Bandits Contagion level for Daymare: 1998 is Approach With Caution. Just like the Pollux virus itself, the title had some great ideas behind it, but is marred by flawed execution. The majority of the gameplay itself I can get on board with. I enjoy the homage to 90s survival horror, with limited ammunition and some solid feeling movement. The story has really been the downfall of this one for me, with poor scripting and some story arcs which are just a little baffling. Because of the script, the voice acting seems stilted and disjointed, and it hasn’t managed to fully pull me in.

Enemy animations could do with work, and betray otherwise solid gameplay
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