Daymare for DOS

I found today’s game whilst playing random shareware I found on my F19 CD. Daymare is a dungeon crawler made by Jim Todd, originally it was made for the Atari ST, but was later ported to DOS in 1992. It was released as shareware with a sequel eventually being made.

The graphics are in VGA and are reasonable for the most part. It’s not as pretty as a more professionally made game such as Eye of the Beholder, but the dungeon is rendered quite well and the other artwork works well enough. There wasn’t any sound to speak of.

At first when I started playing the game I didn’t have much idea about how to play. It’s controlled entirely by the mouse so it wasn’t too difficult to figure stuff out, even though much of what you need to know isn’t in the instructions. There is a cluster of controls arranged in a grid of 8 buttons, and a section for storing and equipping items. Basic movement and attacking were easy to figure out.

Using items was a bit trickier, but I did figure out how to do it. For food items you pick them up with your mouse and click the item on the mouth. Most food items disappear, but the vials of water leave an empty vial after consumption. You can fill these empty vials at a well such as the one found in the starting area. Other items, such as the scrolls and the bag of holding need to be in the right hand slot of your inventory, clicking the diamond (with out starting a spell) uses the item.

Spells are cast by clicking the symbols around the diamond in the correct sequence for the spell, then clicking the diamond. The spells are revealed by hints left throughout the level, such as a readable item that tells you the softens spell. Signs and other text around the levels will provide other hints.

The game starts you out in a little courtyard with a few items around on the ground. You’ll find some water vials, some treasure, healing scrolls and a weapon. The treasure seemed pointless at first, but I found out that you gain experience (and levels) by putting it in the well. The water vials are quite useful as they restore some health in addition to thirst. Since they can be reused they are one of the easiest ways of restoring health. You’ll still need to find food to fill your hunger.

The first enemies I encountered were some worms and attack dogs that were tougher than they looked. It really helps to use the softens spell, as it increases your resistance to physical damage. You’re quite vulnerable at level 1, so I died a few times before I leveled up, but after that I only died if I had bad luck or went somewhere I wasn’t ready for yet.

I’ve played for a few hours so far and feel like I’ve only really scratched the surface. So far I’ve explored most of the first level and managed to find the bag of holding in a hidden section. There is a locked door I haven’t found any keys for yet and a section that kills me quickly, so I’m guessing there are some parts I’ll have to come back to when I’ve leveled up and found some keys.

I quite enjoyed playing Daymare once I got over the initial hurdles. There are a few quality of life issues, such as only having one save slot, not having an auto map and being forced to quit the game every time you die. However I still think it’s worth a download and play. I found the sequel on the authors website, however this version wasn’t available there, if you want to give it a try you can find it on dosgames.com.

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8 Responses to “Daymare for DOS”

  1. 1 fgw3blogger
    June 16, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    You’ll find an automap spell if you explore thoroughly.

    I don’ think the spell is called “softens”, and I don’t even think it has a name. The reason I say this is that most spell books only have one set of symbols, while the ‘softens” book has two sets. What I think is that it’s meant to say is that (I’ll use numbers for the spell symbols, 1-4 for top row, 5-8 for bottom row) [1] softens (as in reduces damage of) [1,5] (which is a long-distance physical attack spell).

    If you are having trouble finding the automap spell, and the lack of it is making the game too unfun, it’s *spoilers*








    • June 16, 2020 at 4:31 pm

      I named the spell softens as that is what is written on the tablet that shows the spell symbols, it is a bit of a weird name but it’s all I got from the game. As for automap, I’ll try the spell, but I suspect that it won’t work on this version as I think that’s a feature that was added to the sequel. I’ll get back to you on that.

      • 3 fgw3blogger
        June 16, 2020 at 9:50 pm

        That’s fair. That’s what I did at first as well. I only mention it because I remember the game becoming easier when I realized the book was showing two spells, and I remember wishing I had seen softens as a verb beforehand. Then again, I was very young when I first played, so it’s entirely possible that my not thinking to try out the second set of symbols after the first symbol already had a softens effect was due to my inexperience, and is not an oversight other players would make.

    • June 16, 2020 at 9:22 pm

      Ok so I tried out the “automap” spell. On this version it displays a map for about 5 seconds with only your immediate surroundings on it (not much more than what you can see) it wasn’t particularly useful in finding your way around. I know the sequel has a better automap function than this, so perhaps it is the sequel that you were thinking of.

      • 5 fgw3blogger
        June 16, 2020 at 9:36 pm

        At the earliest level and reason where you can cast the automap spell, it is almost completely useless because of how quickly it disappears. It lasts longer as your level and reason increase. I don’t remember when it becomes useful, but I know that at 12 Reason and level 21, it lasts longer than my play sessions do. I don’t have a time frame on hand yet though.

        • 6 fgw3blogger
          June 16, 2020 at 9:42 pm

          Also, if you’re using an emulator, lower the speed. Before I did that, I felt (but did not accurately measure) that the automap and buffs wore off much more quickly than when I first played.

          • June 16, 2020 at 11:15 pm

            Ah I see, so you have to wait until quite a bit later before it’s useful, as I didn’t have time to get much further than the first dungeon level it wouldn’t have worked all that well. Does it also affect the range/size of the map? It was quite small.

            Before I played I looked for material online and didn’t find much, but what I did find indicated that this one didn’t have an automap but the sequel does. I’d say it’s fairly likely that many people would have had a similar experience to me depending on how long they played. How far in would you normally find it?

            I’m using Dosbox, running about 5000 cycles which is about a 486 level of machine, which I’m hoping should be fine.

            I don’t think missing the automap is game breaking, it just makes it harder to navigate, which was more of a time sink than anything else. I eventually got to know where I was roughly by knowing the area, by then I’d been all over the first level fairly thoroughly.

            • 8 fgw3blogger
              June 17, 2020 at 6:33 am

              The size is unaffected.

              I have it listed as the 16th spell in my list of 30 spells. The game is quite a bit non-linear, so the best I can say is that you’ll find it around the middle of the game. It’s been too long since I played through it, despite it being a former obsession of mine, so I don’t even know in what general location (dungeons, class stairs, central stairs) it is.

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