After its release back in late 2019, I was just waiting for my chance to sit down to Invader Studio’s Daymare 1998 after having read Mylène’s review. Designed like a classic Resident Evil with plenty of puzzles along trying to survive a zombie apocalypse, you’ll be switching between characters and environments as you try to survive the undead hungry for your flesh.
Daymare 1998 has a lot of great ideas but after seeing what it looks like on the PC, I’m not sure the transition over to the PS4 was one of the best that could have been done. Visually the graphics felt dated, blurry and the refresh rates often made it look laggy as you saw the pixels trying to keep up as you moved down a hallway. Playing on a PS4 Pro with a QLED TV, I’m not sure what else could have been done to try to boost the visuals, but noticing all of these aspects often removed me from the horror experience making it go from something that should have been at least atmospherically scary, to simply, oh, another zombie.
My whole team, my friends, my family and my partner all know how much of a chicken shit that I am when it comes to horror. While I don’t play them often, though my girlfriend wishes I played more so she could laugh at me, more anyways, a classic Resident Evil experience is always something that I’m on the lookout for and on that note Daymare 1998 delivers. The puzzles range from being eccentric with having to type in Greek symbols into a computer to figuring out the lock combination based off of books missing from a shelf. Other times the puzzle can just be you figuring out the right temperature for a cooling unit to make it open.
Like these classic horror games, there’s also the worry about what’s around the corner, how much ammo do you have left, how healthy are you? Will you survive one more hit? Can you survive long enough to run outside from one house to another to avoid what’s in the air as zombies are on fire and you simply don’t have the time to deal with them? And it’s here within these elements that Daymare really shined as it introduced elements that are often left untouched.
Moving around compared to a normal Third Person Action Shooter takes some time to get used to because of the fact that you can walk, jog and run. Walking is slow but it helps to better aim and not get caught as you’re moving around the corner. Jogging takes no stamina but requires that you hold down the L1 button to do so which helps move around a bit faster. Running requires holding down both the L1 button as well as clicking on L3 and it’ll take up your stamina which you’ll also need to melee an enemy that gets too close to you.
Shooting is pretty easy especially when you can adjust the sensitivity. You aim, you fire. Pistols, shotguns or other semi-somethings all feel easy enough to use and your crosshairs only help you figure out if you should be pulling the trigger or not. What impressed me the most was how ammo is handled. Inside your inventory you have ammo boxes that take up slots however unlike most titles, your ammo doesn’t directly go from those boxes to your gun. You have to actually reload your mags to be used in your weapons. Shotguns by comparisons are loaded cartridge by cartridge though. Only adding to the features is that if you really don’t have time to take out an empty mag and put it away because you’re about to be eaten, you can just drop the mag from your weapon to the floor and load up the new one. Once you’re done, you just pick it back up and add it back into your inventory. Just don’t forget about it!
Now while I can get away from the issues with the graphics, where I really had some issues with Daymare was in how “dead” a zombie could really be. From most of the lore, we know that if you shoot them in the head, they are dead. Well more dead… permanently dead? Anyways. In Daymare, sometimes just one shot to a zombie’s head, chest, shoulder will drop them to the ground and they’ll be out for the count. Sometimes, they’ll come back up and try to eat you again. It’s neat as a feature as with the corpses on the ground, you never know if one of them will be getting up to get to you.
Where things DO NOT WORK, is that some zombies, depending on background coding mechanics, will take five, ten or fifteen bullets TO THE HEAD to finally die. Pistols or shotguns with those large blasts don’t matter, they just don’t die and your ammo count is basically flushed down the tube and you’re a sitting duck for the rest. I honestly re-did multiple sections repeatedly just to make sure that they didn’t take up all of the ammo that I had leaving me with nothing else later. It’s not a new issue either as it could happen in the classic Resident Evils just like it happened in the brand new remake where I had the same issues. I’m sorry, but if a zombie takes a shotgun blast right, there shouldn’t be anything left.