Daymare 1994: Sandcastle
Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a third-person story-driven survival horror game prequel to the critically acclaimed Daymare: 1998.
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Product Price: $34.99
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With its new Resident Evil Remakes, Capcom has single-handedly revived the genre of third-person survival horror. This newfound success of Capcom has inspired numerous other studios to try their hand at this genre. With their 2019 title ‘Daymare: 1998‘, Invader Studios debuted their first title in this genre. And now with Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, they are back to tie up the loose ends they once left behind.
Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a prequel to the survival horror game Daymare: 1998, developed by Invader Studios and published by Leonardo Interactive and 4Divinity. The game was released on August 30, 2023, for PC, PS4 and PS5.
Back to 1994
The game follows the story of Dalila Reyes, a former government spy who works for a special unit called H.A.D.E.S. (Hexacore Advanced Division for Extraction and Search). Reyes is sent to investigate a secret military research facility called Sandcastle, where a mysterious experiment has gone wrong and unleashed a horde of deadly creatures.
The game’s plot is set in 1994, four years before the events of Daymare: 1998. The game reveals the origins of some of the characters and enemies from the previous game, as well as some of the secrets behind Hexacore, the shady corporation that is behind the Sandcastle project. The game also pays homage to some of the iconic horror movies and games of the 90s, such as Alien, The Thing, Terminator, and Doom.
The game’s themes are mainly focused on horror, sci-fi, and conspiracy. The game explores the dangers of scientific experimentation, the corruption of power, and the consequences of playing God. The game also touches on some ethical and moral dilemmas, such as loyalty, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption.
Overall, 1994 Sandcastle’s story is intriguing, with a few twists and turns. The voice acting is also pretty good given the scope and adds to the immersion and atmosphere of the game. The game also has multiple endings, depending on the player’s choices and actions throughout the game. However, in the end, these endings may not appear that much significant and may often be quite disappointing. Also, questionable design choices and technical issues can hamper your experience quite a bit. Overall, it just takes a lot of patience to sit through it all, and can be an apparent snoozefest.
Trying Too Hard to Be Resident Evil
The game is a third-person shooter with survival horror elements, similar to the classic Resident Evil games. The player has to explore the dark and claustrophobic corridors of Sandcastle, solving puzzles, finding clues, collecting resources, and fighting against various enemies. The game features a revamped interface that allows the player to manage their inventory, ammo, and health items directly from the screen, without pausing the game.
Compared to its predecessor, the game also introduces a new device called the Scanner, which can analyze parts of the environment and reveal hidden items, documents, and puzzles. These interactions open the paths to the game’s multiple endings, depending on which players will be able to make their own choices and take actions throughout the game.
While it tries to deliver a challenging survival horror experience by bringing in a good balance of action and survival, it is held back by its clunky controls, choppy animations, inconsistent AI, and uninspired puzzles that are a bit too easy to solve at times. Most of these were prevalent in its 2019 sequel as well, and the same seems to be the case here.
Alone in the Dark
Despite its rather dated and clunky gameplay, Daymare 1994 Sandcastle manages to strike the right balance as far as visuals and background score go. Its soundtrack does a great job of establishing an eerie atmosphere. The overall visual presentation is also nice, except for the lacklustre facial animations and character models, especially in the case of its protagonist Dalila. Some of the environmental assets also suffer from low poly textures that may break the immersion of its survival horror.
In terms of performance, Daymare 1994 Sandcastle is a great port on PS5 which manages to maintain a 60 fps experience at all times. There were no noticeable frame drops during my playthrough. The only prevalent issue was its low brightness, which may need some fine-tuning if played on HDR displays as the in-game settings do not support HDR.
Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a decent yet deeply flawed survival horror that suffers greatly suffers to its clunky controls, inconsistent AI, and uninspired puzzles. The game has some improvements over its predecessor, but it still suffers from some technical issues and design flaws that prevent it from reaching its full potential. The game is worth playing for its story, atmosphere, and nostalgia factor, but it may not appeal to everyone.
FINAL RATING: 60/100
Daymare 1994 Sandcastle (PS5) ReviewDaymare 1994 Sandcastle (PS5) Review
- Intriguing Story
- Good Voice Acting
- Great Visuals
- Clunky Controls and Choppy Animations
- Inconsistent Enemy AI
- Obscure Design Choices
- Uninspired Puzzles
- Dated Facial Animations and Character Models