The survival games have not aged well over the years in the gaming community. Developers have come to point where they have stopped putting their sweat in bringing out new ideas and they have diverted their focus on paying tribute to the older classic survival titles and presenting them with modern-day graphics and gameplays.
Similar things could be said about Daymare 1998, the only difference is that the year in the title is not just a coincidence.
Daymare 1998 has quite a long history to it, and it surprises me that the developers could still not make the game stand up to the mark after such a long run. The game was announced back in 2015, and after staying in production for 4 years, the game made its way out for the PC master race, leaving the PlayStation 4 fanatics drooling all over the PC gamers. About a year later, Invader has decided to release the game for PlayStation 4 as well. PlayStation 4 folks got their part of the treat on 28th April 2020, and if you talk about my first impression on the game, I am ashamed to have waited this long for this title. It was not even worth the wait.
In this review, we will talk about how the game follows a typical survival horror game trajectory, what are the shortcomings of the game, and if the graphics and gameplay coincide with modern-day standards or not. If you have made it this far into the review you would have had a hint of what’s going to unfold ahead, so proceed at your own risk.
Even before we spawn into the game, cutscenes give us a pretty good idea of how similar the game is to the Resident Evil titles. It also reminded me of a bit of F.E.A.R when I got control of Samual. When I said the game is a tribute to most of the old survival horror games, I meant it.
Talking a bit of the storyline of the game, the game features a chemical gas outbreak in a laboratory that has turned everyone in the locality into zombies. Throughout the game, you will be fighting nothing but different forms of zombies. You wanna know their biggest weapon? Will they bite you, turning you into one of their own? They will throw up on you. Bless me a moment to remind you that you are playing a horror game and its meant to have your soul crawl out of your body. Anyways after the gas breaks out, H.A.D.E.S will send in a three-member team to clean up the mess. Your basic objective will be to take down all the employees, who would have turned into zombies by the time you arrive, get rid of all the evidence of any gas that was present, and encapsulate a sample of the dangerous chemical.
As already mentioned, there would be three characters during the gameplay and you will be controlling each one of them turn by turn. There is liev, Raven, and Samual. Liev and Raven are extremely similar-looking characters and there is not much of a difference between their gameplays either. Samual, however, is the character that made the game slightly interesting. Samual has a problem, and he suffers from hallucinations. You will see these hallucinations coming from a mile away as the screen will start flashing red. the blood-red screen will not be your biggest worry, as Samual will start imagining the zombies when the hallucinations hit him and you will end up wasting your ammo. This is not something I would call scary at all costs, but it is an appreciable feature of the game.
After the cutscene, once you spawn into the game, you will have the camera hugging you from behind. At first, I thought the camera angle would ease up a bit as I start walking, but it doesn’t and it will stay uptight with you as proceed through the game. At the developer’s end, this was to enhance the element of suspense in the game, and to some extent, they have succeeded, but it is generally frustrating. As you enter your first dark alleyway the game will give you an option to turn on your flashlight. They did not even let the slightest details from the Resident Evil series get past them. Since the camera is right up against your shoulder, your view of the surroundings is minimized and you would often find yourself attacked by a zombie around the corner, and you would not even see it coming. Dark corners are not the only places you will find the zombies. There will be times when you pass through a bunch of dead zombies and the next thing you know is someone will approach you from your blind angle and choke you. they don’t even make a tiniest noise as they wake up from the dead.
The graphics in the game are not very well off either. Zombies seem like decaying potatoes with a pair of eyes and mouth. the camera is usually behind you and you don’t get to see the features of your character very often, but when you do, you will notice that they are not that different from each other. The darkness in the game is outrageous! It is so out of bounds that it will have your pupils expand to the size of a black hole even when the screen is on full brightness. Darkness is a very common aspect in the horror games, but when you combine it with poor graphics, it creates a lethal combo.
I won’t say the game is lacking features. It has a handful of features that are lacking in other games of the era with a similar genre, except that they are entirely useless. The inventory is flooded with stimulants that boost your stamina, health, and accuracy while fighting the zombies, but all that zombies need is a shotgun bullet. The additional features just increase the complexity of the inventory when the game can proceed without them.
The ammo that you pick up during the game, cannot be loaded instantly into the weapon. This becomes a slight issue when the zombie is throwing up all over you. the ammo is present in the ammo boxes, and to load that into the gun you need bullet clips. It becomes quite a lengthy process moving into the inventory, combining the ammo with bullet clips and then loading them.
The thing that the survival game developers, Invader in this particular scenario, need to get through their head is that zombies are not scary and a sudden burst of loud noises in the background to startle the player is only frustrating. Other game developers have started using zombies in action games, rather than survival games. Zombies are not something to be scared of, it is something the gamers run after to blow off some steam. And if I take a little detour, Hollywood has been long using zombies in their comedy action movies. We have had enough of these zombie thrillers. They all have similar gameplay and storylines.
With the remakes of Resident Evil titles already out in the stores, I don’t see much of an impact that Daymare 1998 could create in the community. The game would have made more sense if it was released a little earlier, let’s say, umm……. during Late 2000s?