Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle (PC) Preview

By Athanasios 21.02.2022

Review for Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle on PC

Daymare: 1998 is the creation of Italian indie developer Invader studios. It's a title that wears its influence proudly on its sleeve, with said influence being the 1998 Capcom classic, Resident Evil 2. While it was an honest love letter, rather than a cheap way to sell more copies, and end result received mixed reactions, with some regarding it to be very, very bad. A couple of years later, and the team returns to survival horror once more, with a prequel named Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle. Read on Cubed3's hands-on preview to learn all about it.

This follows brand new protagonist Dalila Reyes, the special H.A.D.E.S. agent tasked with infiltrating a top-secret government facility, where top-secret experiments are being made for the top-secret project with the codename 'Sandcastle.' Without beating around the bush, the story is, for now at least, as generic as possible. If you played any game where an E.V.I.L. organisation conducts bad science, and then, "oops!" bad things start to happen, then you know what to expect here. There are no interesting character interactions to speak of, and the documents or audio-logs left behind are the standard stuff expected from such a game and nothing more. There's no decent build up to anything, no real surprise, no nothing. It is, of course, extremely early to draw any conclusions, but what's on offer so far is ok at best.

Screenshot for Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle on PC

There's an even bigger problem here. This is devoid of any scares. It has a very bleak, gloomy atmosphere, but while it looks that's something is really, really wrong here, players will rarely feel threatened, especially in the way-too-silent silent moments, where no strange sounds are there to creep you out. The appearance of enemies is particularly tension-breaking, due to their far-from-frightening look, but mostly because they don't really ambush the main character, as they telegraph their arrival with a bright spark, and provide ample room and time to prepare before they get too close. And don't forget that these baddies are fast! Far from the creeping dead of Resident Evil.

The only interesting bit when it comes to combat is how there's a new tool available called the Frost Grip. This high-tech bracelet throws balls of ice, especially useful as enemies, upon their death, leave behind an electromagnetic force that gets transferred to the next in line, essentially boosting it, making it harder to go down, or even impervious to damage. The only thing left to do then is to freeze them up, and then smash them to icy bits in one hit. A neat mechanic to be perfectly honest, not to mention that it's also used in puzzles, with one example being a moment where Reyes had to decrease the temperature on some overheating tubes.

Screenshot for Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle on PC

The other half of the game is obviously the exploration and puzzle-solving. In this brief demo there isn't something out of the ordinary to talk about. It's the typical third-person adventure deal, with keys that open doors, and simple puzzles that revolve around playing with the features of a machine for, say, activating an elevator. Standard stuff, really. A neat scan button makes exploration much easier, as it highlights resources and interactive spots. It remains to be seen if it has other uses, or if it also "awakes" monsters if used too often, but it's a nice feature as the game is fairly dark, and the flashlight of our brunette heroine isn't exactly military grade. All in all, this is probably an upgrade from Daymare 1998 which didn't really try to do things differently. Sadly, the developer doesn't show any improvement on the technical and balancing front.

Screenshot for Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle on PC

Daymare: 1998 was far from a polished piece of software, and the same can be said about the prequel. The publisher provided Cubed3 with a list of known issues, but apart from one bug which made enemies disappear in a particular battle, nothing from this list was experienced. Having said that, this isn't without problems, with frame rate dropping down very easily (especially when using the machine gun for some strange reason), and with key presses that don't register being one of the most aggravating of the few flaws that made their appearance. In fact, there's a key that must be pressed when an enemy grabs Reyes in order for her to escape, but it never ever worked during the play-through for this preview.

The biggest problem, however, seems to be a lack of balancing in various aspects of the game. Reyes is a bit too slow compared to her foes, whether she is reloading a weapon or running away from danger - the latter is especially annoying, as it's more like quick walking. Damage needs some balancing too, especially when it comes to the machine gun, which for now is completely useless, unless used on frozen zombies, and the… ice powers recharge a bit too slow for a game where you are bound to be surrounded by more than three, running undead creeps. A couple of tweaks here and there and this can get much better, though, so keep an eye on it.

Screenshot for Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle on PC

Final Thoughts

Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle needs work, but it sure looks like an improvement over the original, with the biggest change being the fact that the heroine's arsenal consists of more than simple weapons, with her ice-throwing gizmo being used both for combat and puzzles. There wasn't much plot to experience in this short demo, and it's generally somewhat unpolished in terms of frame rate stability and overall balancing, but there's still hope for this Italian Resident Evil.




Leonardo Interactive


2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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