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Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is an ice cold blast

Daymare, fighter of the nightmare, champion of the... sun?

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Daymare: 1998 was a creative, yet somewhat buggy love letter to 90s survival horror developed by Invader Studios and created with the help of Resident Evil 0 and RE Code: Veronica artist Satoshi Nakai.

Its prequel, Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, boasts many of the same attributes while also managing to feel fresh and new.

Those that found themselves captivated by the story of Daymare: 1998 will undoubtedly be delighted at the opportunity to dig even deeper into the events leading up to the first game. In Daymare: 1994, this comes in the form of the “Sandcastle” mission that H.A.D.E.S. agent Delila Reyes is tasked with sifting through.

The demo features a few small story beats for this here and there from intriguing files to collect to a chaotic, yet unexpectedly entertaining audio log. However, what the demo is primarily focused on are the game’s puzzles, enemies, and strategic combat scenarios.

Puzzles Aplenty

You'll find a number of fun 90s references as you explore the demo for Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle.

While shorter than I had anticipated, the demo for Daymare: 1994 does a stellar job at highlighting various gameplay aspects from putting out fires so Reyes can proceed to the next area, to freezing foes in their tracks with Frost Grip.

The puzzles in Daymare: 1994 are intricate, yet not frustratingly so to the point where you can’t work them out through a bit of trial and error. The demo allows you to toggle hints on and off which can be helpful, and areas where you need to go are subtly pointed out to you through the use of strategic lighting and map design.

You can also use your scanner, not only for data collection, but to give yourself hints as well. For example, I was stuck trying to open a door at one point, not realizing it needed a key card. After using the scanner, I was able to quickly track down the key card’s location.

I admit, I felt a little dumb when I realized the key card was a few feet away from the door, but hey, at least I remembered I could use the scanner to help me find it!

You can use your scanner to collect pieces of data, or get hints if you're stuck on a particular puzzle.

Another thing Daymare: 1994 does a great job at is keeping enemies away from you while you work to figure out the game’s puzzles. One example of this in the demo comes when Reyes is attempting to fix a set of elevators in an empty hangar bay in order to progress forward.

As I ran around trying to figure out where to go and which buttons to press, there weren’t any frustrating moments in regards to enemy interruption. Instead, enemies spawned in after various points of the puzzle had already been solved.

As long as you take care of enemies whenever you encounter them (as opposed to running past them and hoping for the best), you won’t have to worry about them coming up and whacking you from behind.

Ice, Ice Baby

You can use Frost Grip to freeze enemies in their tracks.

Speaking of which, combat is one of the biggest highlights of the demo. You’re given a shotgun and a machine gun to help keep you alive, along with limited quantities of ammo in a Resident Evil sort of way.

Exploration is encouraged as there are opportunities to find more ammo in the demo, and using Frost Grip is also worth your while as it can help you save ammo. We found ourselves primarily using the shotgun given how well it works when combined with Frost Grip. Specifically, with Frost Grip, you can freeze an enemy completely, then use your shotgun to blow them to pieces.

There are a variety of ways to eliminate threats in Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle.
There are a variety of different ways to eliminate threats in Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle.

One shot is usually all it takes once they’ve been frozen (there were a few situations where this wasn't the case), and with enemies frozen in place, you can walk right up to them and get a nice, satisfying headshot.

Of course, you can also shatter frozen enemies in other ways, like using a unique melee finisher that’s tied to Frost Grip if you prefer. At first, freezing enemies with Frost Grip feels a little overpowered as you can stop them in their tracks, then vanquish them with a single strike (or shotgun blast to the face).

However, once larger hordes of enemies start coming at you, there’s a nice element of tension that rises as you work to both freeze foes, keep them at a distance from you, and eliminate each one. If you’re low on ammo or you've used up your Frost Grip completely – Frost Grip recharges on its own, but slowly – this can make for a real challenge.

You're in for a real challenge when Daymare: 1994 sends a swarm of enemies your way.

The end of the demo really highlights these kinds of intense battles against enemy clusters, and I found myself looking forward to experiencing even more of this in Daymare: 1994 as opposed to fighting one or two enemies like you do towards the beginning of the game’s demo.

This final fight against a swarm of ambushing enemies really pulled me in, and I admit, I was a little sad to see the demo end on such an exciting note.

Give it a Go

The demo offers enough of a taste to get you excited for the release of Daymare: 1994, especially if you enjoy horror games with puzzle solving both as part of map navigation, and as part of combat.

If you’re itching to spend some time with Daymare: 1994, the demo will be available as part of Steam Next Fest, and is one you can complete fairly quickly.

If you loved the first game, it’d be a real atrocity to skip this demo while it’s available, so be sure to check it out, and keep an eye out for more information regarding the release date for Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle in the future! At the moment, Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is expected to release sometime in 2022. For more on Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, head over to the game’s official website.


These impressions are based upon an early PC demo of Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle supplied by the developer. 

Senior Editor

Morgan is a writer from the frozen wastelands of Maine who enjoys metal music, kpop, horror, and indie games. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 21, 2022 9:00 AM

    Morgan Shaver posted a new article, Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is an ice cold blast

    • rms legacy 10 years mercury super mega
      reply
      February 22, 2022 4:29 PM

      I just played through the demo, it's short but shows the tenor of the game. Looks decent, passable environment and texture-wise, voice-acting good, controls (m+kb) I have no serious complaints about. The combat introduces an interesting quirk with a freeze-ray secondary weapon, and fast-moving enemies that have to be frozen more or less solid to give you a chance to then shatter them with a normal weapon. And a few simple puzzles to solve along the way. If you like the RE2 remake, at perhaps a lower price point, give this one a look.

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