In 2015, development of Resident Evil 2: Reborn, the fan-made remake of the classic survival-horror game, came crashing to a halt when the young development team in small-town Italy received a call from Capcom politely asking them to stop. Before long, Resident Evil 7 and later RE2: Remake were officially announced. Meanwhile, in Italy, Invader Studios rose from the ashes of the cancelled fan project, delivering their own title Daymare: 1998 on Steam in 2019.
As Daymare: 1998 heads to consoles in April, IGN Japan and IGN Italy visited the Invader Studios team in the small mountainside town of Olevano Romano, 45 km east of Rome, where they told us about the fallout of that fateful call from Capcom.
Invader Studios Tour
When the group of friends who were working on their fan remake – built from the ground up in Unreal Engine as an over-the-shoulder third-person action game – they knew the IP was not theirs to use. Rather than intending to monetize the project, they saw it as a way to hone their skills as game developers and maybe, just maybe, garner them some attention.
Which it did – after hundreds of thousands of YouTube plays, the team received a call from Capcom’s European marketing office. And that was the end of the project.
Showing Respect in the Industry
The team was invited to visit Capcom’s Osaka office, where they were shown top-secret early builds of the as-yet-unannounced Resident Evil 7 and – yep – Capcom’s own over-the-shoulder third-person action game remake of Resident Evil 2.
“They didn’t treat us like fans, but as professionals,” recalls Daymare Creative Director Michele Giannone. “That’s why they could show us materials that were not announced yet. They even asked for our feedback, and the fact that we are in the credits of the final Resident Evil 2 Remake game is a sign that we probably did something that helped with some of their decisions. There are some comparison videos on YouTube that show some of the ideas that we had, with the environments, the way we reimagined the RPD and the path of the player – maybe they got something from us.”
“It was good for them to show the community that they respect developers and a group of fans like us, so it was good publicity for them with the community,” says Daymare Art Director Tiziano Bucci.
If this seems unfair, the meeting actually helped to encourage the budding young developers to start their own company and create their own game from scratch. At the meeting in Osaka, feedback went both ways, and Capcom offered advice and contacts that would set Invader Studios on the path to Daymare, their first complete game release.
Daymare’s Survival-Horror Roots
“The rhythm of the game is deliberately very slow,” says Alessandro De Bianchi, Daymare’s director. “You can run, but you will die easily if you do. So you have to think about everything. We included reloading mechanics that are more realistic, because you have to load the ammo into the clip and then put the clip in the gun – and this makes you more anxious, because you have to always be prepared. You have to take your time and manage your items, because you don’t know what is in the next room.”
Mysterious environmental puzzles, too, impede your progress as you explore locations such as the dimly lit Aegis research facility, an eerie hospital and even a Japanese restaurant, Sakurama, forcing you to think laterally and, more than likely, pull your hair out in frustration.
The walls and shelves of Invader Studios’ small office itself are crowded with artwork and merchandise from Japanese series’ such as Resident Evil, The Evil Within, Bayonetta and Parasite Eve, along with a series of framed photos of the Invader team posing proudly with top developers from each of these series – Shinji Mikami, Hideki Kamiya, Kazuhiro Aoyama, Kenichi Iwao, and the modern Resident Evil team at Capcom.
Daymare: 1998 Screenshots
Ex-Capcom Staff Join the Crew
Something else that helped cast Daymare in the mold of classic survival-horror is the inclusion of ex-Capcom staff in the production credits.
The team were able to make contact with Kazuhiro Aoyama, who worked on the original Resident Evil as a planner and later directed Resident Evil 3 – and who agreed to become the “Producer Associate” on Daymare, Along with artist Satoshi Nakai, who brought his experience on Resident Evil: Code Veronica and Resident Evil 0 to the Invader Studios project as enemy creature designer.
“Thanks to our work on the Resident Evil 2 remake and also the first (prototype) level of Daymare, we got a lot of good contacts and good attention, so we managed to reach Aoyama and Nakai in 2016, during the preproduction of Daymare,” says Giannone. “They were really happy to collaborate with us. Aoyama in the early stages gave us tips and suggestions about game design, and Nakai gave us really good and original concepts for the enemies. So it has been a great collaboration with them. They are legends, so we are really proud.
As for Resident Evil 2 – well, the official remake came out in early 2019, as you know. And eagle-eyed players will have noticed that Invader Studios was included in the special thanks section of the end credits.
Rather than considering Capcom’s game a competitor, the team is happy to see a resurgence of interest in the genre they love.
“If Capcom wants to invest in these kinds of games, and then you also have The Last of Us Part II, and then Resident Evil 3 Remake, there is a lot of attention on this genre,” says Bucci. “And there are only a few games in this genre on the market. So when you finish Resident Evil 2 Remake, if you want to play more, you can choose Daymare. So it’s good for us and for the community that Capcom is making these kinds of games.”
Daymare: 1998 is out now on Steam and will release on April 28 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Daniel Robson is Chief Editor at IGN Japan, and Giovanni Marrelli is an editor at IGN Italy.