Invader Studios is rounding up work on Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, and it releases for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch on 30 August this year. In preparation for this upcoming release, we have compiled a list of 13 things that you need to know before you buy the game. We have a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in.
Daymare 1994 puts players in the shoes of Dalila Reyes, who is a government spy working for a top-secret unit called Hexacore Advanced Division for Extraction and Search (abbreviated as H.A.D.E.S.). As a member of this advanced military unit, Dalila gets sent to a secret research facility where all kinds of horrors lurk in the darkness. As is already evident from this narrative setup, Daymare 1994’s narrative will be sticking to survival horror tropes like failed experiments and government conspiracies for its story. And while elements of it might be pretty familiar to genre fans, the story might just be worth seeing through to the end.
Connections To Daymare 1998
For the uninitiated, Daymare 1994 is a prequel to the 2019 horror game Daymare 1998. The original didn’t have the best of critical reception as can be seen from a rather measly score of 53 on Metacritic, but elements of the gameplay were ripe to be built upon with a sequel – hence the prequel. Daymare 1994 obviously takes place 4 years before the events of the first game, and the events in this upcoming story will bridge the gap and provide the required context for what ends up happening in Daymare 1998. The developer also promises big comebacks in addition to new characters, so that’s pretty exciting to hear as well.
Inspired by Dead Space
If that wasn’t already obvious, the Daymare games are heavily inspired by the Dead Space franchise – and it carries elements of its inspirations like a badge of honor. Everything from the setting to the over-the-shoulder camera and sci-fi elements hearkens back to the glory days of Dead Space. Furthermore, the moment-to-moment gameplay also revolves around using whatever scant resources you have and carefully tiptoeing around the dark and murky facility that’s filled to the brim with enemies and jumpscares at every corner. As such, it’s going to be a pretty familiar experience for fans of survival horror games – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It’s almost impossible to talk about Dead Space without mentioning its impressive dismemberment mechanics, which was one of the prime pillars of its combat system. Of course, Daymare 1994 is also borrowing this particular mechanic for its own purposes – and players will be able to strategically shoot down enemies at limbs to weaken them, and ultimately render them harmless.
Our protagonist Dalila dons a super advanced H.A.D.E.S. suit which is fitted with all sorts of technical wizardry, but the scanner is set to be one of the most important tools in that suit of armor. Using the titular scanner, players will be able to assess every detail in the surroundings which will help in uncovering hidden collectibles, secret puzzles, and extra documents. It’s a pretty familiar mechanic, but players who want to complete the game to a 100% will have to pay a lot of attention to the scanner in the moment-to-moment gameplay.
As can be seen from the gameplay and trailer clippings, Daymare 1994 will feature claustrophobic levels where players will be funneled into dangerous situations with little wiggle room to spare. The facility is filled with long corridors lined with sparse lighting, which helps induce a sense of anxiety within the player. Of course, there are also contrasting areas that are comparatively more open-ended – but those seem to be pretty rare from what little we know at the moment.
Exploration will obviously be an important part of the experience, and the game will be relying on environmental puzzles to tickle your brain cells. As such, you might have to scour the environments in search of hidden keycards, use different items to solve puzzles or take part in minigames like hacking to open certain doors. We’re not expecting puzzles to be too complicated in nature, but they will have to be engaging on some level to remain a worthy distraction from the combat and story.
Over on the enemy side of things, Invader Studios promises that enemies in Daymare 1994 will be some of the most aggressive creatures that you have ever faced. Furthermore, the developers have also stated that enemies will also have “intelligent AI” – so you might have to dynamically alter your combat strategy if you wish to see the adventure through to the end.
Another important point worth noting in terms of enemies is that certain enemies might be able to transform into a deadlier version of themselves. While we don’t exactly know how it will work, transforming enemies definitely sounds exciting – and they should hopefully help in adding more spice to the combat system.
The Frost Grip
While players will have the option to choose from different weapons like pistols or shotguns, the Frost Grip will be one of the most important tools in your arsenal when it comes to dispatching the many enemies that roam the facility. This exotic gun essentially spews frost upon the enemy which freezes them in their tracks, and in turn allows you to easily shoot them down or dismember the limbs with relative ease.
Invader Studios has already confirmed that players will have the option to choose the difficulty to their liking. Newcomers to the survival horror genre might want to stick to the Rookie difficulty, and those who have some experience with such games or just crave a tougher challenge might want to bump the difficulty up to Veteran. We don’t know how the experience will exactly change with the difficulty, so we’ll have to wait and see.
As you might have already noticed, Daymare 1994 looks absolutely gorgeous from a visual standpoint. The game makes good use of Unreal Engine 4’s feature set to deliver a highly atmospheric experience, complete with all the graphical bells and whistles that one would expect from a current-gen release. There’s generous use of high-quality assets, and character models look reasonably sharp, but the lighting and reflections are what ultimately give this game an innately unsettling vibe which is pretty important for a survival horror experience like this one.
Thanks to the game being built on Unreal Engine 4, Daymare 1994 isn’t too demanding on the PC hardware side of things. As per the Steam page, you need a minimum of Core i5-4460, GeForce GTX 760, and 8 GB of RAM to run the game without any hitches. And even if you wish to crank the settings up to higher levels, you only need a Core i7 3770, GTX 1060, and 8 GB of RAM to do so. Most modern PCs and handhelds like the Steam Deck should be able to run the game without many issues, which is a great thing in our opinion.