Daymare: 1998 started out life as a fan-made Resident Evil 2 remake, but it was shut down by Capcom, because as we know, they had plans for their very own remake, which went down as one of 2019’S best games.  However, Capcom lent small indie developer Invader Studios a helping hand with their professional insight and valuable experience, which resulted in 1990’s survival horror nostalgic title and the game in question, Daymare: 1998.  In-fact, we already reviewed this indie survival horror title when it initially released on PC and it’s fair to say that while our reviewer John Little found some positives from the game, it wasn’t the best overall experience and after spending many hours into the console port, I too share much of his sentiment.

In short, Daymare: 1998 is a throwback to survival horror titles of yesteryear and the developers do not shy away from that fact, but while its core experience embraces much of what that era had to offer, modernising such a title with a set direction, has resulted in issues that makes Daymare: 1998 feel rather dated, much of which is not in a good way.  While Daymare: 1998 pays homage to the likes of the original Resident Evil 2, it’s played in a third-person perspective and it does not have a fixed camera angle, but it takes added inspiration from Resident Evil 4 with its over-the-shoulder perspective.

In terms of plot, the story revolves around a mysterious special forces team by the name of H.A.D.E.S (Hexacore Advanced Division for Extraction and Search), clearly inspired by the Umbrella Security Service and one of the three playable characters Liev is pretty much a direct rip off Hunk, which I take no issue with, because this game is after all a homage to the likes of the old-school Resident Evil 2.  However, you are tasked with investigating an incident on a remote, but populated island with a small town that following a deadly security breach, a toxic gas has turned its inhabitants into blood thirsty monsters aka, zombies.  Without giving too much away, the other three playable characters in which their stories are entwined are Samuel Walker, a run-of-the mill man that works as a mountain ranger and suffers from a medical condition called “Daymare Syndrome” which gives him nightmarish hallucinations.  Finally we have Raven, a former NASA pilot, turned H.A.D.E.S operative.

It’s difficult to not be overly critical of this title, because I can clearly see what has been attempted by the small indie studio and the game has clearly been crafted with a lot of love and care for its genre.  So to be fair, I do not expect the same kind of level when compared to studios such as Capcom, but despite having a certain lovable charm, this console port still has a number of issues and even from what I’ve seen of PC Let’s Play videos, some of the bugs that were preset there, have made their way to this console port.  For example, zombies clipping through doors, in particular a section involving Samuel Walker attempting to get a mine cart working had a zombies arms clipping through the door as he enters the small building.  This bug was present in a PC Let’s Play video that I had previously watched, and the exact same thing happened to me.

I had also heard of reports involving the auto-save not saving when it clearly should.  For example, when I had finished the first chapter of the game, upon starting chapter 2, naturally I thought this would be an ideal time to stop playing and return from this checkpoint later in the day.  Before I had exited the game to the main menu via the pause screen, I made sure that the auto-save logo had disappeared before exiting, the game was clearly attempting to auto-save and with me leaving at the start of the new chapter I had no reason to believe that there would be no issues when I returned.  However, upon my return and naturally assuming I’d start off from the beginning of chapter two, I was in-fact thrown back at about 75% through the first chapter, before an obnoxious puzzle that required you to know the Greek alphabet, which wasn’t fun the first time, let alone the second time.

Some of the puzzles in Daymare: 1998 are fine, but some of them aren’t all that enjoyable, and feel more of a chore, so when the auto-save completely fails you and ignores the fact that you have finished the chapter and throws you back before something that already felt like a chore to begin with, it was certainly an enthusiasm killer.  In the games defence, since that time, the auto-save has been somewhat reliable and there are stations from about a couple of hours into the game where you can manually save your progress, but this save issue has left me little trust in the auto-save feature in Daymare: 1998 and every time I finish up a session, I’m worried how far the game will throw me back when I return.

Now I get that this is an old-school inspired survival horror game with old-school save mechanics, but if you have a somewhat unreliable auto-save that has seemingly made its way from the PC to console port, it would certainly be handy to add some kind of manual save from the main menu or at least via the inventory management gadget located on the characters wrist, which is also used to manage inventory items, player health, mission objectives and brings up a map of your current location.  Speaking of which, the inventory system isn’t the easiest on the eye or the easiest to manage and considering this seems to still be exactly the same from the PC version, I can’t see the inventory management being improved upon, though it would be handy to have more clear icons and text, just so that you know what you’ve got and exactly what items you might want to combine, such as health and ammo.  When navigating your inventory, the game will not pause, so you will be deliberately exposed, so make sure that there are no enemies nearby by before using the Hub.

In terms of other issues that I’ve experienced is the hit detection.  With a game that offers scarce ammo for being an old-school inspired survival horror, you really do have to make sure that every bullet counts.  Now I know I’m not a perfect shot, but I know for a fact that there have been plenty of moments when I should have got a clear headset and somehow, I totally miss.  This is even more of an issue when it happens at close range using a shotgun.  There have also been moments when I know for a fact that I should have missed the target, but for some reason, the game registered a headset, despite me shooting wide off the mark.  The game does also at times have awful dialogue and voice acting, for example, when Samuel Walker is in pursuit of another character that leads him to a nearby hospital, he says “He’s going there, and then he’ll be there”, well yeah, no shit Sherlock.  However, as a big Resident Evil fan and the original RE2 being my all-time favourite game, Daymare: 1998 was the very last voice-acting role for Paul Haddad, the original voice of Leon S. Kennedy, before he sadly passed away.

But what are the positives that Daymare: 1998 brings to the table?  Well, thankfully as I’ve already stated it does have a certain lovable charm in its favour being a game that is crafted with so much love for the genre.  The developers have also made good use of the worldly environments, created to a decent level of detail and atmosphere, despite some of the character models being quite poor.  The game also makes use of some impressive audio design and especially when using a headset, the environmental sounds certainly helps immerse you into the experience and you can get a sense of panic when you hear something lurking behind you.  If you’re willing to look for them, the game has quite a surprising depth of lore as revealed by the many documents found scattered throughout the game, many of which have nods to not only classic horror games, but movies too.

All in all, Daymare: 1998 may be considered an average survival horror game and if you’re going to get enjoyment from this title, you will have to look past many of its issues quite early on, but if you fail to find its charm, you’re likely to find Daymare: 1998 frustrating and a slog to get through.  However, in fairness, this is a retro inspired survival horror game crafted from a small independent studio, which tried to achieve something with a big budget feel, despite seemingly having limited resources.  That said, with this being Invader Studios very first retail release, it’s still an impressive achievement and if they can build and learn upon the foundations that Daymare: 1998 has set, then the studio could have a positive future in the industry and I look forward to seeing where this path takes them next.  Daymare: 1998 is far from a perfect game and it has its fair share of problems, which will hopefully be fixed in the near future via updates, but if you can discover its charm and see past its flaws, there’s still much to appreciate with Daymare: 1998.

You can read our PC review of Daymare: 1998 here.