Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle PC Review

Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a solid survival horror title, but not without its hang-ups.

By MChipmunks, Posted 11 Sep 2023

When Capcom released the remake of Resident Evil 2 back in 2019, it broke new ground for what was possible for video game remakes. Resident Evil 2 (2019) surpasses the original release by an immeasurable margin. The enhanced graphics were expected, but the gameplay was also drastically overhauled. Gone are the days of tank controls, and frankly, some things are best left in the past. Resident Evil 2 (2019) introduced a control system that was more immersive and intuitive for the modern gaming audience. Any game developer who is in the business of making survival horror titles should look to Resident Evil 2 (2019) as a blueprint for success.

Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, Survival Horror, Delila, Resident Evil, Woman, Gorgeous Visuals, PC

Enter, Daymare: 1998, a survival horror game developed by Invader Studios, a recently formed indie studio based in Olevano Romano, Lazio, Italy. The Daymare franchise has a rather interesting development history. Daymare: 1998 began its life as a fan remake of Resident Evil 2 (1998), predating that of the official remake, which would later release in 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. While the team at Invader Studios would get a cease and desist from Capcom, therein, the Daymare franchise was born. It was readily apparent that Daymare drew heavy inspiration from Resident Evil. The inventory system, third-person survival horror action, and enemy designs are just a few of the similarities between the two franchises.

Some Resident Evil veterans actually helped make Daymare a reality, including Resident Evil 3: Nemesis Director, Kazuhiro Aoyama who served as an Associate Producer on Daymare. Resident Evil artist, Satoshi Nakai, lent his talent in addition to the original voice actor of Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil 2, Paul Haddad. This would serve as Paul Haddad’s last role, and it’s fitting it is in a project related to Resident Evil. The Daymare franchise is currently planned as a trilogy. Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is the prequel to Daymare: 1998. You follow in the footsteps of former government spy turned H.A.D.E.S (Hexacore Advanced Division for Extraction and Search), agent, Delila Reyes, as she is thrust into a total nightmare.

Deep below the surface of the Nevada desert, lies a secret research lab where twisted experiments take place. Darkness and horror await Delila as she figures out the situation she finds herself in. On the surface, the production value for Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a vast improvement over its predecessor. When you aren’t looking at characters' faces, the graphics are fantastic running on my Nvidia 3060 RTX at max settings. I could not take the dialogue seriously as characters had such blank expressions, poorly done lip-syncing, and voice actors who lacked conviction in their performances.

Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, Zombies, Guns, Action, Survival Horror, PC, Gorgeous Visuals

I am not sure how much could have been done about this, considering Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a lower-budget title. The story isn’t exactly anything to write home about, regardless of the performance given, either. There were many moments that were entirely predictable, having played many survival horror games before it. Delila Reyes, along with the leader of H.A.D.E.S. and comrade Ivan Radek, and founder of H.A.D.E.S., Commander Foster, set out to recover a briefcase containing important data. Section 8, which is under the direct command of POTUS, is also after that briefcase and Foster hopes to secure it before they do with the help of Reyes and Radek.

As you assume the role of Reyes, she finds herself separated from the rest of the gang as she finds a way inside the top-secret research facility thanks to her exceptional hacking skills. As a result of restoring power to the entrance of the facility, the automatic security lockdown measures engaged, leaving no one coming in or going out. Thus, Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle officially begins. Right from the jump, you will notice you have a shotgun and a submachine gun. Get used to it, as these are the only two weapons you will use throughout the entirety of the game. This was a huge bummer, as increasing Reyes's repertoire would have made for much more engaging combat.

Descending deeper into the twisted lair of the research center, you will stumble upon these zombie-like creatures. I will give points of creativity, as it's floating electromagnetic pulses that reanimate dead staff and soldiers, something I personally have not seen in this genre. Early on, you will face blue-eyed zombies that can be killed by blasting their melons off. There will be another variant of the common zombie with glowing red eyes that cannot be killed simply by gunning them down. You will gain access to the frost grip, which serves as an integral part of the combat and puzzle-solving featured in Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle. You will be freezing zombies most of the time as they charge at you.

Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, Puzzle, Hacking, Survival Horror, PC

This is a big gripe I have with the combat. The enemies bum-rush you at an alarming pace that can be hard to deal with, especially in the middle of a heated encounter. Your frost grip is very slow and I found myself helpless in many situations due to how fast the enemies are. It isn’t a matter of your skill level, as I swapped between Story and Normal difficulties to test it out and found myself in the same situation, regardless of the difficulty setting. In a flash, you will find yourself in a QTE, mashing the button to remove enemies off of you. Unlike Resident Evil, you never use knives in Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, so you have to take damage even briefly. If you had a knife or grenade equipped in Resident Evil, you were able to quickly deal with an enemy on top of you without losing health.

There are only three enemy types that cycle throughout the entirety of Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, leaving combat scenarios feeling repetitive. You have your basic zombie, Sparkers, which are grotesque creatures that kill you instantly, and another type that teleports all around, spitting projectiles at you. Variety is the spice of life, after all. A few more enemy types would have jazzed up the combat a bit further. We can only hope the third Daymare game will feature a more robust lineup of fiendish foes. Only time will tell for now. The enemies that are present, drain your health very quickly.

That’s why it's important to pick up as many med kits as you can find. In the early game, med kits are thrown in your face at every possible moment, especially when you don’t need them. Unfortunately, you cannot save them in a box like you would in Resident Evil, so conserve them for when health pickups are at a minimum. The med kits, in particular, should have been spaced further apart, as you will be begging for them in the latter portion of the game. You don’t want to find yourself in an intense enemy encounter without them! Fortunately, you are given ammo at every possible corner. Since Delila is an IT tech wizard, she will be hacking terminals at various points throughout her journey.

Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, Sparkster, Grotesque, Gore, Survival Horror, PC

These become ridiculously hard at certain points, with a timer that does not give you enough time to finish some longer puzzles. To make matters worse, behind some of these terminals are upgrades for your frost grip and if you fail enough times, you are completely barred from obtaining those goodies within. Sure, you can load your game from various save points, but that can easily become tedious. Sprinkled in each chapter are alien bobbleheads for you to shoot and claim.

Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle features a lot of references to pop culture, such as Ghostbusters, Danganronpa and the bobbleheads are no different! Each bobblehead nets you a collectible coin in the extras section, featuring references to various famous aliens in pop culture. I don’t want to spoil them, but one of the coins is labeled “Xeno” so you draw the conclusion of what famous alien that coin could represent. These collectibles add slight replay value, as you may have skipped some if you didn’t have such a keen eye your first time through.

While Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a fairly linear game, the exclusion of a map is a questionable choice by the developers. There are various pickups throughout the facility that can be easily missed, and it would have been nice to know those locations so you aren’t blindly going all over the place. In a few instances, I found myself doing just that. The inventory system is in line with Resident Evil and is a welcome addition here as that system makes managing resources much easier. Once a key item has outlived its usefulness, the item will be automatically deleted from your inventory without you having to manually delete it, which is a welcome choice.


Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a short title that you can complete in less than 8 hours. This includes picking up all collectibles and shooting all bobbleheads. By the game’s end, you will be left with more questions than answers, which sets up for the finale of this trilogy. I didn’t mind Delila all that much and found her to be a somewhat enjoyable protagonist. She makes all sorts of nerdy references and even refers to her comrades as “troglodytes” which gave me a good laugh. Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is not shy on its use of F-Bombs, so expect plenty throughout the course of the game. Invasion Studios needs to work on crafting better dialogue, assets for faces, and direction for all the voice-over talent involved.

There is a solid game to be found beneath the rough spots. If Invasion Studios can work out these kinks, no doubt the next Daymare game will be a smash hit. For $29.99, it is fairly priced for the amount of content you receive here. As a newer studio with not a lot of funds to go around, Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is an improvement over the first title. I was able to tell the passion they had for Resident Evil throughout while still staying true to their own vision. This game is definitely worth a playthrough for those survival horror fans looking to scratch that itch with a new IP. Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is ultimately a triumph for the small but mighty team of developers, given this is only their second game. I hope the third game can improve upon some hang-ups of their sophomore effort.

Michael Nicolosi (@ChipmunksMikey)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Leonardo Interactive
Developer(s): Invader Studios
Genres: Survival Horror
Themes: Horror, Action, Single-Player
Release Date: 2023-08-30

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