Daymare 1998 was released on the gaming market in 2019. It was a game designed by the relatively unknown developer Invader Studios; as it would later be found out, that software company was allegedly working on concepts for the then-upcoming Resident Evil 2 Remake, but Capcom, who approached Invader Studios, wasn’t satisfied with what was offered and opted for its own Division 1 developing team, which is deserving for the creation of the most popular fighting game franchise, Street Fighter; the game that rocks not only an ordinary gamers’ world but also competitive gaming (and betting) realm.
Namely, this year’s sixth installment of the title is the most popular fighting eSports, squeezing its way to the markets of the best-rated bookmakers for eSports betting here.
Already after the playable demo, it was clear as day that Daymare 1998 wanted to be similar in many ways to the ultra-popular AAA title Resident Evil. And, as such, it achieved moderate success. Some gamers, especially fans of RE and the survival horror genre will say that the game was underrated, which is a statement that carries a huge chunk of truth.
But this year in July, a sequel Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle was released to the market for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S, and PlayStation 5 platforms. What did the sequel bring us, did we get another clone of Resident Evil that we did (or didn’t) want or did we get a largely independent game, you’ll find out in the following review.
How Did It All Begin?
As this article’s introduction stated, Italian company Invader Studios launched their debut game, Daymare 1998, in 2019. The game’s development had an unusual beginning as a Resident Evil 2 re-release. As we all know, Capcom started working on their own updated re-release of the second Resident Evil sequel soon after, and instead of seeing this as a total failure, Invader decided to take the work they had already done on their re-release and turn it into their own game, resulting in Daymare 1998.
After a few years, they started working on a sequel, which they basically created as a separate game, which brings us to Daymare 1994: Sandcastle, a sort of prequel to the original game.
At First Glance: The New Daymare Is Even More Reminiscent of Resident Evil 2 Remake
If you thought that Daymare 1998 was similar to a re-release of the second installment of Capcom’s survival horror, you have yet to play Daymare 1994: Sandcastle. The game is so reminiscent of the re-release of RE2 that in certain situations you may wonder: are you going through corridors that you’ve already passed through while playing RE2 Remake (in case you played that game) or is this a new game after all? Right off the bat, things look similar to RE2 in the way the game looks and how the controls work.
But the similarities don’t stop there; as you play the game, you’ll come across more and more of these. The inventory, some of the conversations, and even the files you find are very reminiscent of the RE games. If you ask us, we don’t think this is a bad thing, especially since we’re quite biased and because we’ve loved Resident Evil since 1996. So with that in mind, we give every game that at least resembles a bit some of the REs a chance.
We gave it to this one too. The programming team realized that RE2 Remake was a great success, so they also wanted to “take a bite” of that success. But for some people, such exaggerated similarities will get on their nerves, which is also understandable.
This is because when you pay around 30 euros for a game designed by a team that still belongs to the “indie” group, then you still expect an original product as much as possible. In many ways, Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle isn’t so. But honestly, if you like the survival horror genre, we don’t think this should be (too) big of a problem for you.
All the Elements Needed for a Good Survival Horror Are Present
As in the previous version, the player controls a surviving playable character, while exploring a dark environment full of undead zombies. Along the way, of course, in the manner of a true survival horror, you’ll check every room in search of precious resources, while solving puzzles along the way. The main enemies during your adventure are of course zombies, which differ from normal zombies in several interesting ways.
For example, any non-zombie variety is electrified. He can use this electricity to quickly escape from your sight, but also for other special powers such as teleportation. This is made even more difficult by the fact that killing zombies may not actually mean they are dead, since the electricity that comes out of one slain zombie can go into another nearby dead body. This puts extra emphasis on killing zombies carefully and on saving ammo since you won’t be able to kill every zombie you come across.
You quickly learn about Sandcastle’s primary firearm, the Frost Grip, a self-charging missile that lets you freeze zombies, when you first play the game. You can break a zombie into thousands of shards once it has been frozen, but remember that the ammunition that makes the zombie freezable is naturally depleted. As you advance through the game, you can upgrade your Frost Grip using disposable terminals, which makes Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle (kind of) reminiscent of Dead Space, another fantastic action-horror game that was rereleased this year.
What will become clear to you very quickly is that you’ll need to learn as soon as possible how to handle these weapons as well as possible, since they’ll become very important to you in order to play the game effectively. This becomes very evident when stronger and bigger zombies and bosses come. In such situations, it will quickly become clear to you that even a few seconds of inattention means the difference between life and death.
A Small Number of Weapons and Relatively Easy Puzzles Add to the Horror Atmosphere
You start with a primarily automatic rifle and shotgun armament, save from the Frost Grip. However, if you take the time to investigate and break into certain closed sections, you’ll discover that these types of weapons are capable of upgrades, which is always a pleasant possibility. Some things that were present in Daymare 1998 will be present here as well, which may appeal to a lot of new players. Since Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a survival horror, it means that the game has a certain number of both optional and mandatory puzzles.
Overall, most of the puzzles seem quite simpler this time around compared to the last game, which is…. Well, both good and bad, depending on how much you enjoy solving puzzles. We didn’t mind that most of the puzzles were simpler compared to Daymare 1998.
Some Enemies Can Pose as a Real Challenge
In contrast to the very easy problems, fighting non-zombies can occasionally become quite tough and challenging. Although you can preserve ammunition by using your shot (Frost Finisher), resources are limited. Sadly, there isn’t much explanation on how to utilize this kick, which is unfortunate because it can come in handy in an array of dire and challenging circumstances.
Sandcastle introduced some very awkward enemies, one of the most awkward for us being the hovering zombie. This enemy appears later in the game and to make matters worse, he’ll pester you multiple times throughout the game, and each time the fight will be slightly more difficult than the last time. We don’t want to reveal too much but we have to say a few things: this enemy can call weaker enemies to join him, can strengthen them, teleport, can approach you the way only he wants, in “stealth” mode, after which he can finish you off with one attack, which is very nasty and a bit unfair.
The enemy in itself wouldn’t be so overwhelming if it didn’t have that particular “stealth” attack, which makes the fight against him almost completely unfair. It happened to us several times that he managed to finish us off just before we dealt him a fatal blow, and then it seemed to us as if the game was cheating as if he was behaving in the sense of: “No, you won’t!” Maybe we’re exaggerating, but in any case, we think they could’ve programmed this enemy better.
Have you played Resident Evil 4 or Resident Evil 4 Remake? If you have, you’re familiar with Doctor Salvador, a very dangerous enemy who carries a chainsaw. Although he has dangerous attacks in his own right, you’ll know very well when he’s near; he won’t be able to talk to you silently (unless you’re really paying attention). It’s a pity that the developers didn’t copy RE games by good regarding this (and some other enemies) because no matter how good and interesting the game is, unfair battles in which it seems as if the game is cheating can quickly take away your desire to play.
All in All…
…Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a pretty good copy of the Resident Evil games. In most segments.
Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is in many ways a copy of mostly recent Resident Evil titles. We haven’t said anything about the story because we simply don’t want to spoil anything. But what we can say is that the story is nothing spectacular and this will surely be one of the weakest segments of this game for many players. However, we still think that the game has more pros than cons.
If you’re interested in a good survival-horror title, with good though not overly challenging puzzles, mostly good combat elements, and an emphasis on survival and exploration, give this game a shot. Although it’s not Resident Evil 2 Remake, it’s an overall good survival-horror title, the likes of which there aren’t many in the last 10 years or so.