Daymare 1994 Sandcastle is an upcoming third-person survival horror game; and prior to the game’s launch on 30th August, we got the opportunity to speak with Michele Giannome, the co-founder of Invader Studios, the developers of the game.
As the prequel of Daymare 1998, players will step into the shoes of special agent Dalila Reyes, a former government spy now in service of a specialised task force to uncover the mysteries surrounding the most advanced experimental research centre in the United States of America.
[Interview is edited for clarity]
Unreal Engine 5
Daymare 1994 Sandcastle has been in development long before Unreal Engine 5 had been announced. We asked Michele is the team thought about switching over to Unreal Engine 5 instead of continuing with the current engine.
To which Michele replied by saying no, and that the team are really close to the finalisation of the project and that it was impossible to move everything top Unreal Engine 5. He continued by saying that it would have been a huge problem and that the game would’ve been broken.
“We of course are really interested in UE5, we’re still working on it for several other projects and it’s pretty stimulating and exciting to start a new production on it. But no, the game is completely on Unreal Engine 4 and we spent three years working on it just making it perfectly fittable for our game so it’s something that we’re considering for sure on our next project.”
Michele mentioned that the team had already pushed for the best they could and that they’re satisfied with the overall results, from both a visual stand point as well as any side of the production.
Ditching The Realistic Reloading System
Comparing to the previous title, we noticed that Daymare 1994 had removed the realistic reloading system to go for a more conventional one. We asked Michele what was decision behind the change.
Michele mentioned that the reason behind that was that the team wanted to have something different from the first game, which was a love letter to classic survival horror games. With Daymare 1994 Sandcastle, they wanted to have a new formula to the game, so they had decided to rework all the mechanics and gameplay, which resulted in the removal of the previous reloading system.
“In this game we just decided to go with something new, an evolution. We went with something unique and original and there was no space for this kind of mechanic because everything is faster and a bit more frenetic. We just focused on new features, and we decided to leave behind something else, like this feature in particular.”
Making Daymare 1994 Sandcastle More Action-based
The next question we asked Michele was whether the goal for this title to be more focused on action-based as compared to the previous title.
“Just a bit. We wanted to just extend the range of the audience, so the game is still a survival horror game of course. We wanted to have a lot of gore, a lot of scary situations.”
“At the same time we wanted to give something more to the people and make it a bit more fun and open to more fans, action fans. It’s all about balancing everything at the best, and trying to give all the players a really nice and enjoyable experience. It’s not easy, but it seems like with the demo people can already see that it’s working.”
Taking Feedback From The Demo
Daymare 1994 Sandcastle had an early demo where players could try out the game back in May and another one last year. We asked Michele if the team had taken note of any particular feedback during the demo period.
Michele mentioned that there were a lot of differences between the two demos, and that the team followed the feedback they got from the first demo.
From the feedback, the team took note on the game’s enemy variations, an update to one of the game’s unique mechanic in the Frost Grip, as well as the animation.
With Daymare 1994 Sandcastle, the interface for the game’s D.I.D system has been completely reworked, and is a lot easier to navigate around as compared the one in 1998. We asked Michele how did the team approach this rework to have this big of an improvement, all while keeping the uniqueness.
MIchele mentioned that was part of a new plan to make the game more enjoyable for more people. The D.I.D System in 1998 was also a unique concept, however it was a bit too slow for most people to navigate around.
“It was pretty complicated in some ways. We decided to study the new games released in the last few years, like the resident evil remakes and stuff like that, and we know this and that of course, all the inventory were pretty similar and really simple, easy to navigate, easy to just to view, to understand.”
Michele continued by saying that was the reason why the team had decided to give less space to the visual and original part of the inventory, to opt for a something easier to navigate.
As a creative, Michele said that it’s not easy to leave behind a concept that you love and go for something new and easier. However, at a certain point, you have to make that decision to make the game as best as possible for the players.
A Renaissance In Survival Horror Titles
Survival Horror titles are certainly going through a Renaissance, with both smaller and bigger titles getting a lot of hype. We asked Michele how the team felt knowing that there’s this healthy appetite for survival horror games.
“We’re players and survival horror fans before we’re developers. We love to play other games, all games, new games and we think to know where a game can be better or more enjoyable for our tastes is. We just follow this way and try to make something that it’s in our way. Of course, following thesis and answering to our needs as players.”
Michele continued on by saying that they would work on new ideas to be put in the game, which is similar to studying and doing research and development with other games, and mixing those new ideas to something original.
“Of course, that’s more or less the approach we have with the production of new games or our gains in general. It’s important that of course, there is a lot of fans, audience and we are happy to make our way in this genre with our games and try to convince more and more people about the genuinity of our products and titles.”
Balancing A Horror Atmosphere And Smooth Gameplay
One of the hardest parts for developing any Survival Horror game is to have smooth gameplay while keeping the horror atmosphere. We asked Michele how the team accomplished this for Daymare 1994.
Michele mentioned that it isn’t easy to balance everything. They have to take into account on when to have players fight against enemies, and when to scare the players.
“It’s just about pre-production working on all the sequence of the maps, all the flow of the game just making adjustments during the way and is not something that you can or better for us, is not something that you can decide from the beginning to the end and said “okay, this will be the whole game, already pass, or already decided everything” it’s impossible.”
“You have to work on a core design, a core flow and then make little adjustments also playing the game, having the right feelings and putting something new or removing something that can change our aim, or just the things that we want to pass to the people.”
Features To Look Forward For Daymare 1994
We asked Michele what features that fans could look forward to Daymare 1994 when the game comes out.
Michele said “Of course, the main features are the Frost Grip. This is a special device with a backpack that the people will use to freeze the enemies, to solve environmental puzzles. You can upgrade it and make it faster, stronger and better to kill several more enemies or more powerful enemies.”
Another feature that fans should look forward to would be that enemies are able to teleport from one point to another, making it impossible to know where an enemy would attack you from.
“Also the fact that there’s these electric energy that can bring back to life new enemies or corpses scattered in the areas or just make other enemies more powerful. It’s these two are probably the most important and unique features that make this game different from others from our point of view. ”
Favourite Survival Horror Game
One of the final question we asked Michele was what was his favourite survival horror game growing up.
To which, Michele answered by saying that his favourite was the original Resident Evil 3, as he considered to be the Golden Age of survival horror games. As with current titles, Michele said that the remake of Resident Evil 2 is a masterpiece.
Michele ended off the interview by thanking all the players that are planning on trying out Daymare 1994 Sandcastle, and he hopes that they will enjoy the game. Michele also hinted at a potential third chapter of the Daymare series in the future.
We would like to thank Michele Giannome for taking the time to answer our questions. Daymare 1994 Sandcastle is set to release on 30th August 2023 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.