Horror video games are having one thing of a renaissance in current instances, with the profitable remake of Resident Evil 2 Remake, in addition to the stellar Resident Evil 7 Biohazard taking the franchise again to its roots, and even EA testing the waters with its unbelievable remake of the unique Useless Area. Even the indie area has seen some enjoyable horror titles, like final yr’s great Signalis. Developer Invader Studios is hoping to be part of this horror renaissance with the follow-up to its 2019 launch Daymare 1998—Daymare 1994: Sandcastle.
As its identify would possibly recommend, Daymare 1994: Sandcastle acts as a kind of prequel to its predecessor, giving us a have a look at what precisely was occurring on the planet 4 years earlier than the occasions of Daymare 1998. The story takes place within the eponymous yr of 1994, with a trio of H.A.D.E.S. brokers heading out to Space 51 on a routine mission that goes horribly fallacious.
“Daymare 1994: Sandcastle acts as a kind of prequel to its predecessor.”
In the case of gameplay, Daymare 1994: Sandcastle wears its influences proper on its sleeves. That includes an over-the-shoulder perspective, the sport appears like a basic tackle Resident Evil 2 Remake components. The digital camera angle goes a good distance in serving to the sport set up its tone and ambiance, since your discipline of view is basically funneled to focus nearly solely on what’s proper in entrance of you. One other wonderful concept that the sport borrows from Resident Evil 2 Remake is the power to do a fast 180-degree flip, which helps fairly a bit in tense fight encounters.
Talking of which, Daymare 1994: Sandcastle actually options fairly a little bit of fight. After a gradual build-up throughout the recreation’s prologue the place you’re basically studying the way to execute a few of the recreation’s puzzle fixing and exploration mechanics, Daymare 1994 rapidly begins amping up the frequency with which you’ll be stepping into fights towards the sport’s many nightmarish enemies. That is the place the sport gives up a primary impression that doesn’t actually hold-up the additional you get into the sport. The place the gradual opening would point out an expertise extra targeted on exploration and ambiance, it as a substitute rapidly devolves into continually preventing issues off.
The fight itself, whereas fairly a little bit of enjoyable when you get into the circulation of switching between your weapons on time and making use of your Frost Grip capability, suffers from a definite lack of selection within the gear accessible to you. The place different action-oriented horror titles would give you loads of instruments to no less than have enjoyable when you’re operating on your life from monstrous creatures, Daymare 1994: Sandcastle as a substitute incorporates a surprisingly restricted arsenal.
“The place the gradual opening would point out an expertise extra targeted on exploration and ambiance, it as a substitute rapidly devolves into continually preventing issues off.”
The sport reveals an incapability to stability out its slower, tense moments with the heart-pounding motion that many of the recreation basically turns into. Whereas that is under no circumstances a nasty factor, the pacing fairly undoubtedly suffers due to these selections. If the sport is meant to be an out-and-out motion recreation, it ought to undoubtedly lean into these concepts additional than the gradual, plodding setup elements of the prologue. In the case of horror, the sport doesn’t actually efficiently pul off something that could be even remotely scary.
Most of Daymare 1994: Sandcastle revolves round poorly achieved bounce scares, which is an actual disgrace contemplating how properly the sport can handle to look spooky from a distance no less than. The awful corridors of Space 51, lit up solely by flashing purple lights and a few lamps that haven’t had their bulbs blow out can provide up fairly a placing picture. Sadly, all of the ambiance can’t actually assist salvage the sport’s makes an attempt at horror when each second nook you flip round can have a monster lurking there. Whereas early-game makes an attempt at some bounce scares can work fairly properly—a fuse field blowing up within the prologue involves thoughts—attempting to make use of nothing however bounce scares can solely actually get you up to now, and in the end, it falls to the motion gameplay to assist uplift the sport.
Sadly, Daymare 1994: Sandcastle additionally falters fairly a bit with its fight. Whereas visuals of weapons look respectable, and the enemies look fantastically monstrous, there are smaller points that mix collectively to kind a much bigger drawback. For instance, many enemies simply gained’t react to getting hit by your bullets. Positive, sturdy monsters shouldn’t essentially be taking a lot injury out of your SMG, however no less than a minor stagger animation would have been significantly better than what we now have now. There’s additionally the truth that you solely actually have entry to 2 weapons throughout your complete playthrough: an SMG and a shotgun. That’s proper, you gained’t get another weapons to mess around with.
“Sadly, all of the ambiance can’t actually assist salvage the sport’s makes an attempt at horror.”
Because of its poor makes an attempt at horror whereas attempting to concentrate on motion gameplay, Daymare 1994: Sandcastle suffers fairly a bit from poor pacing points. Whereas I first thought that these pacing points would largely be restricted to the sport’s opening hours the place it’s nonetheless attempting to introduce its premise and characters for you, even the mid-game interval nonetheless confirmed fairly a number of issues with how Daymare 1994 paces out its fight encounters with the slower, extra exploration-focused puzzle parts.
The premise of the sport is surprisingly enjoyable, and grounds for a reasonably wonderful journey due to the heavy thriller vibes it provides off. H.A.D.E.S. agent and protagonist Dalila Reyes is a enjoyable character, and regardless of the title that includes extremely goofy writing, the interactions between her and her fellow brokers can vary from enjoyable to entertainingly nonsensical. The premise for the sport begins off easy, however as is the case with nearly any horror recreation on the market, issues rapidly get sophisticated as soon as Reyes begins exploring deeper into the bowels of Space 51.
There’s even a contrived, surprisingly-futuristic PDA—referred to as the D.I.D.—that you should use as the last word instrument, since not solely does it allow you to handle your stock and monitor your collected paperwork, however you may as well use a regular USB cable to hack nearly any highly-classified authorities pc you discover. Nothing within the recreation ever feels prefer it’s meant to be taken too severely.
“The premise for the sport begins off easy, however as is the case with nearly any horror recreation on the market, issues rapidly get sophisticated.”
Daymare 1994: Sandcastle’s greatest success, other than the enjoyable vibes of its story, is how properly it manages to seize its time interval. Other than the ultra-futuristic D.I.D., computer systems on the planet of Daymare 1994 are beige, blocky issues with large keys on the keyboards, and a complete lot of dials subsequent to screens giving off the comfortable interlaced glow of old-school CRT screens. There’s fairly a little bit of appeal to be present in exploring a ruined authorities workplace full of these old-timey computer systems, though you’re most likely simply going to get jumped by one other monster.
The sport isn’t freed from technical points in its visuals both. Whereas the sport itself feels and performs competently, cutscenes had been surprisingly jittery, and the thought of lip syncing for dialogue could as properly be an idea as alien as a number of of the monsters you find yourself preventing. Even when taking part in on High quality mode on the PS5, textures had been surprisingly low-resolution, and even a map pinned to a wall was little greater than a blurry, blocky mess. The place it’d fail on technical ranges, nevertheless, Daymare 1994: Sandcastle succeeds in its inventive intentions by presenting some actually handsome tableaus to punctuate the important thing moments of your exploration by way of Space 51.
Daymare 1994: Sandcastle is way from the right recreation. Plagued with technical issues in addition to points with elementary design, it manages to be a mean recreation due to its considerably competent fight system. Positive, its story gained’t be taking dwelling any awards, and also you would possibly solely actually have two weapons to mess around with, however the recreation nonetheless manages to be okay in a pulpy sort of means.
This recreation was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.