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Midway-esque double-A horror shooter Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is out now

Former Resi modders strike twice

Player character and special agent Dalila confronting an electric zombie in a dark corridor in Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle.
Image credit: Leonardo Interactive

Appropriately for third-person shooters featuring icky electric zombies, Invader's Daymare series has crept up on me. The second game, Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, launches today. It casts you as Dalila Reyes, a special agent of Hexacore Advanced Division for Extraction and Search, aka H.A.D.E.S., and - wait a minute, I know this vibe! That annoying acronym? The washed-out, cadaver-on-concrete set dressing? The gimmicky ice-gun and scanner mode puzzles? The not-so-subtle undertones of Monolith and Midway? Characters with big glowy gadgets on their backs, so you can track them through poorly-lit warehouses?

For all the 90s setting, this looks to me like a homage to shooters of the early/mid noughties, when every action game took place in an office block, prison or garage, featured some kind of paranormal auxiliary ability, and owed a few cinematic chromosomes to the Matrix. Get a load of that trailer.

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Frantic combing of the RPS archives reveals that Sin reported on the first game Daymare: 1998 - yes, this is a prequel - back in 2019, deeming it "a bit on the fiddly side" but a good time on the whole. Daymare: 1998 started out as a fan remake of Resident Evil 2, but Capcom obviously had other ideas. I haven't had a chance to play Sandcastle, but it feels like its own distinct breed of over-the-shoulder spec ops shuffler, with a concentrated and confident sense of double-A naffness. I mean that entirely as a compliment - I love this kind of thing, though I reckon Trepang2 has stolen Daymare's thunder a little. There's a Steam demo if you're interested.

I have a pet theory that retro-themed game development is entering the era of the "post-boomer shooter". The 90s are out, the noughties are in. Unreal Engine 3 rather than id Tech 1. Bullet time rather than rocket-jumping. Big beats rather than heavy metal. Tactical shotguns rather than sawn-offs. What catchy designation shall we give this altogether slicker, chillier customer? Here's some music to help you think about it.

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