I’d say the survival horror genre has been making a comeback in recent memory, and I’m talking about true survival horror by the way. Games where you manage resources, learn how to survive tough scenarios through pure wit, and navigating complex worlds. Otherwise, games with actual gameplay instead throwing a cheap scripted jumpscare at you. Within the last two years we’ve received some of the best survival horror has to offer from both the AAA industry and the indie scene. The Resident Evil remakes have been a hit, well maybe besides Resident Evil 3, and looks like Resident Evil 4 Remake is gonna end up being a Game of The Year contender. Silent Hill 2 is being remade as well and we’re also seeing the return of Alone In The Dark. Last year’s Signalis was a psychological trip into personal grief and learning to let go, Faith: The Unholy Trinity was unsettling, Amnesia: The Bunker made people afraid of war for different reasons, and Dredge is the scariest game to take place out in the ocean since Subnautica. You have Tormented Souls, the upcoming Conscript, Lost In Vivo, The Evil Within 2, Darkwood and much more proving people want to go back to survival horror roots. No more hiding behind boxes, lockers, and being stripped of anything that would be considered engaging gameplay. Just pure fun. There’s one survival horror title I’ve been meaning to check out for awhile. What is considered a survival horror legend and one of the few great things EA have put out. That game is Dead Space, a sci-fi horror masterpiece from 2008 and has maintained a following since conception.
3 years prior to the release of Dead Space, landmark Resident Evil 4 came out and revolutionized the gaming industry. Helping create staples like the over the shoulder third person camera we see in a lot of video games, cinematic action and presentation, and much more. Resident Evil 4 is a masterpiece and of course many developers decided to take influence from it. One of which was Glen Schofield, who wanted to make his own Resident Evil 4 but with a sci-fi twist. He decided to take influence from films such as Event Horizon and Solaris, and create a horror experience that took place in the depths of space. No one is out there to help you in that cold empty vacuum, and it’s just you against whatever eldritch beings throw themselves at you next. Those were the main inspirations for Dead Space, and EA provided the fundings to make this dream come true. A team of experienced individuals named EA Redwood Shores, later renamed Visceral Games, worked on this and it goes. Remember when big development teams in the industry meant high quality products? Those were good times. Anyways, Dead Space surprisingly ends up becoming a critical success and Electronic Arts tries pushing it to become their next blockbuster series. They made two sequels, a handful of spinoffs, and an animated film but maybe they pushed the series a little too far. Dead Space 2 was considered a fantastic sequel but the shift towards a more action horror focus created worry for some. Then Dead Space became an action shooter full of microtransactions and Visceral Games was shut down a few years later.
They were a team of passionate people and EA forced them to make things they didn’t want to make. Before they got shut down they were working on a fourth Dead Space, a Star Wars game, and a sequel to Dante’s Inferno, and it’s said we’ll never see these properties ever again because EA decided to pull the plug on a dying studio they were responsible for killing. Ten years have passed since the last game and we haven’t seen a game capture the sense Dead Space had since. Well there was a team of former developers who tried making a spiritual successor, but we saw how that turned out. Dead Space has been resting peacefully within its grave, but EA decided to dig it up and bring it back to life. Motive Studio, responsible for Star Wars; Squadron, were put in charge of making a remake to survival horror cult classic. They were given all the time in the world to make sure the remake looked top notch, and they did as they made use of next gen tech. When they announced Dead Space would be getting a remake a ton of fans had mixed feelings. It’s not that the remake looked bad, but that Dead Space t didn’t need to be remade. The original aged feel and still plays well today, but I guess this is better than receiving no Dead Space. The remake comes out and despite the PC version having a list of technical problems the game ends up being a success. It was the same game fans remembered from 2008, but a couple of changes and quality of life improvements that made it feel like an extraordinary new experience. It was a proper return for Dead Space and I think there was a rumor saying Motive Studio may end up remaking the second game. Dead Space is still a masterpiece in 2023, and even though I don’t think it will end up being GOTY I do expect to see on a lot of GOTY lists.
I’m actually really excited to talk about the Dead Space Remake right now. As I stated earlier, I have been planning to play this game for a really long time now. Originally I planned to buy the original version and play it on my Xbox One, but then an announcement for the remake dropped and I decided to wait and see if the remake would be the superior version. This is my first time playing Dead Space, so I don’t know what changes they made between the original and the new one. Instead of making comparisons I plan to cover this as a first time playthrough, so what do I think about Dead Space? This game…. is one of the best survival horror games I’ve ever played. There’s so much it does right and at no point during the twelve hour playthrough did the game get stale. It always found ways to challenge me, feel tense, and push towards the next objective. The Dead Space Remake is masterful and I hope it stands alongside Resident Evil 4 Remake for setting a new benchmark for what remakes should be. Today we’re talking about why I love Dead Space and why it deserves your attention.
It’s the 26th century and mankind has figured out how to efficiently travel across the stars… how many times have I told a tale like this? Anyways, you follow Issac Clark, one of many engineers who works for the United Spacefaring Guild. You and a team of specialists are assigned to a small vessel named the USG Kellion and fly off to a spaceship known as USG Ishimura which has gone quiet. It was a thriving ship full of scientists who researched whatever was collected from a mining colony on a planet below, but something happened and communication was lost. Issac and his friends think there is nothing to worry about, but they end up crash landing on the ship when there’s a docking error. Issac and friends scout ahead to see what is wrong, and they discover that the ship is abandoned. Issac activates the power and suddenly a grotesque monster appears which tears apart one of his teammates. Issac is separated from Hammod and Daniels, and is forced to run away from the alien threat. He manages to get to safety and find a tool that is capable of fighting back against the monsters. These creatures are known as Necromorphs, and they are born from the bodies of the deceased. The monsters you have been facing are the now mutated bodies of the crew, and it has something to deal with the research they’ve been digging up. The Ishimura is still under powered and a good chunk of the ship is inaccessible, but due to his engineering skills and knowledge Issac must slowly put the ship back together. Navigate the halls, fight the Necromorph onslaught, and attempt to contact help and escape the Ishimura. He’s also here for another reason though. His girlfriend, Nicole, is one of the many scientists assigned to the Ishimura. When the ship went quiet she too went quiet, and Issac has been meaning to go contact her since then. He hopes that he can find her atop this derelict vessel and that once found the both of them can escape together. Find her, and once done they can be whole again.
If you played any of the recent Resident Evil remakes, mainly 2-4, then you’ll feel at home here with Dead Space. You venture through the Ishimura fighting Necromorphs, collecting anything of value, and pursuing whatever current objective you may have. Necromorphs are a lot different than your standard zombie though. Instead of having a humanoid body they instead stretched out and were unproportioned. Shooting the head won’t put them down as they are already dead and it will deal little to no damage. Instead, the game gives you a clear message right out of the gate by having a huge blood written sign saying “Shoot The Limbs.” So the core combat loop focuses around severing the limbs of foes and smashing their bodies when they are on the ground. You can shoot the legs off a standard Necromorph so they are just crawling along the floor, and then you can shoot the arms which will fully kill them. You can even shoot the arms first if you dare so choose to, as that will eliminate their main way of attacking and possibly decrease how much damage they deal. Necromoprhs come in a variety of flavors and it’ll change up the ways you approach combat. Some will wear and force you to attack the exposed limbs instead. Some have these red glowing sacks that explode once they get close to you, and you want to shoot the sacks from a distance. There’s these tiny Necromorphs that scurry along walls and sprout tentacles that shoot at you, so you want to shoot off the tentacles. Necromorphs that shoot projectiles, create more Necromoprhs to fight, and there’s one that’s mounted to the wall and instantly kills you if you attempt to fight it up close. Just shoot off enough of their limbs and they’ll remain dead. Won't get back up like Resident Evil 2 Remake zombies.
There’s a variety of weapons to pick up throughout the game and they’re all used to dismember your foes. The first weapon you unlock is the Plasma Cutter and it’s one of the most reliable in the game. In fact, just like the original there’s an achievement for those willing to beat the game using the Plasma Cutter alone. A fire a small yet linear projectile, and it can be changed to shoot in either a horizontal direction or a vertical direction. Great for shooting the limbs off enemies in specific ways. You have the Pulse Rifle which is basically your assault rifle and its alt-fire is a remote mine which detonates when enemies get close to it. However, these remote mines work very similarly to a grenade launcher and can be used to blow up any Necromorphs bunched up together. The flamethrower to light up foes up close, the Line Gun to incinerate them from a long distance, the Force Gun to blast them into pieces with a loud sound. One of my favorite weapons is the Ripper which speedily spins a buzzsaw in front of you. However, you have to be close to an enemy when using it to get maximum amounts of damage, so it’s a risk reward weapon for those wanting to use it. All the weapons are viable and can be upgraded along with your high tech suit at workbenches. Throughout the game you pick up Power Nodes and they can be spent to upgrade one of the various stats for your suit and weapons. For your suit that would include leveling up maximum health, amount of air in your oxygen tank, how much energy you have for Stasis, and the power of using Kinesis. Oh yeah, you also have two powers to use throughout the game. Stasis to slow down objects including Necromorphs and this can be really useful during group encounters. You only have so much Stasis energy though, and it can only be refilled using either energy refills or finding a station to refill it. Then you have Kinesis which allows you to levitate an object and throw it. You’ll need this to solve a lot of the puzzles in the game, but if there are environmental objects such as explosive canisters and javelins you can use these against your foes. It’s about using your whatever tools and resources you have available at the right time, and boy are resources sparse. I mean this is a survival horror game.
You want to loot every container and time you find in the game, because sometimes ammo and health packs are hard to come by. You can pick up loot dropped from defeated enemies, but often the item you get is random. There are times where you’ll have to buy items from the shop. You will pick up a ton of Chips throughout the game, that being your main currency. Chips can be spent to buy more ammo, health packs, and even upgrades for your suit and weapons. Some of which will open up more upgrade branches to spend Power Nodes on. You can even exchange the ammo and health packs you don’t need for more money, so there’s a nice system for getting more of what you want for the future. Explore more, solve puzzles, and eventually open up the tram stations for each sector of the Ishimura. The world is interconnected, but you want to use the tram stations to cut down backtracking and avoid run-ins with the Necromorphs. Do this and you’ll get closer to your goal. Fix the Ishimura, find Nicole, locate some form of an escape vessel, and get the hell out of here.
The Dead Space Remake is a must play for any survival horror fans out there. Again, I have no idea what it changes up from the original, but from what I and many others have experienced it is extremely faithful and the definitive way to experience this classic. Let’s get the big question out of the way first, “Should it downright replace the original?” Honestly, no. The remake is superior in a lot of ways, but the original version still has importance. The original has things the remake doesn’t have, and sometimes its faults should be looked at to see what can be improved in the future. The same could go for Resident Evil 4 and whether it too should replace the original. The answer is also a resounding “no” because the original had this campiness and humor to it that the remake does not have. The remake has superior and more mature storytelling, but the original is still important for how it tells a bonkers story in a funny yet really cool manner. Demon's Souls Remake is amazing, but I've seen a lot of people complain about the art direction and what Bluepoint changed from the original. Some of which is not good. Finally the remake of Dead Space is sold for roughly around seventy dollars, and that’s a hard purchase to justify especially since the original goes for less than twenty dollars now. This discussion of whether remakes replacing the original version is pointless though, because after awhile remakes kind of become their own games and Dead Space Remake is masterful. Probably one of the best the survival horror genre is gonna get in a while. Let’s stop going over this topic and discuss what I love the most, and boy is there a lot to praise and learn from if you are a survival horror dev.
The combat loop is fun, challenging, and most well balanced. All the guns serve a purpose and what I like most about the weapons of Dead Space is that besides the Pulse Rifle each one feels like a tool the engineers of the Ishimura would use. The Act Man pointed this out during his review, but the Plasma Cutter feels like it would have been used to cut small wires while the Ripper feels like it would be used to cut up metal or thick surfaces. The Force Gun would be used to move debris, Flamethrower to melt surfaces, and the Line Gun for hard surfaces quickly. It feels badass to use these tools as lethal weapons and thankfully they are designed around that combat loop of weakening your foes. Cut off their limbs or at least rip them apart so that they are no longer a threat. The game does lean more heavily towards action than survival horror later on, but around this point the player should have a ton of gear and upgrades so it’s understandable why. All of the enemies are fun to fight and even when the game got challenging I would say it was fair. It’s fair to die due to a lack of skill and not knowing how to manage your stuff rather than throwing a random scripted event and you die because it horribly telegraphed it to you. One thing I see as both a pro and con though is the loot drop system. It’s based on what weapons you are carrying, and if you carry a ton of weapons then you have a decreased chance of getting what you need. That includes ammo for the guns you are either low on or like using most, or health packs you need for when you are low on health. The best way to get more of what you need is to stash weapons in storage. This may discourage switching between tools and experimenting, but honestly who wants to carry every weapon at once especially since you need inventory space for things such as health packs, extra ammunition, stasis recharges especially since some levels don't have recharge stations, and your weapons.
Still, the game is rather well balanced as I noticed whenever I was low on health the next loot drop was always a health pack. The game knows when to be generous and when to kick things into full gear which is what you want for a survival horror game. Graphically this game looks gorgeous and really shows what next generation consoles are capable of. The advanced lighting and detail made traversing the Ishimura ever so tense, and there were a lot of occasions where I was afraid of what lies behind a door and corner. The game even spawns more Necromorphs for when you backtrack through a hallway you’ve been through already, and it adds more tension to the game. You don’t know what will come at you and when, so you have to be well prepared and improve your survival skills. The game does a good job pushing you to using Stasis and Kinesis as there were often times enemies moved in bunches, moved too quickly, or there were objects in the environment I could use to my advantage. The puzzles are really well designed and even there were times I got confused I quickly figured out what to do. The puzzles all center around fixing the ship and it further increases the feeling of engineers doing badass things. I’m currently studying to be an engineer and being reminded of the things we can do is great. The controls are buttery smooth and one common complaint about the original is that Issac felt clunky. Personally, I understand why because of the suit he is wearing and trying to make the combat weighty as possible. Every blast of your guns, the stomp of your foot, and beating your foes senseless. They made it smooth here, but really nothing was lost as again combat is fun and packs weight. Not gonna lie, I had more fun with Dead Space than I had with any of the Resident Evil games. I might even like Dead Space more and that goes to show since this series fell off faster than the Resident Evil franchise.
The story and world building of Dead Space is still great. Every character is interesting, and you constantly want to know more about the world to discover what happened. The universe of this series is interesting, and it’s no wonder why Visceral Games built more upon humanity and their strife towards colonization in the future games. Issac Clarke is a likable protagonist, but one big change they made since the original is that he talks. Some fans obviously are not going to like this change as what made Issac great in the original is that we had to imagine the trauma he was going through. What he had to endure, and we get to see more of that in Dead Space 2. However, it works here and for a few key reasons. First is that Issac only talks when someone is talking to him, so at least he’s not spouting useless annoying things during gameplay. Second is that what he says actually contributes to the plot and develops him as a character. Last thing I love about the story is how it’s told in one shot. You know how the new God of War games are presented in such a way where the viewpoint of Kratos is never changed, or we have flash to different scenes? It’s like that here as well and I love it. I mean sometimes control is removed from the player and I hate those moments where we are locked in a room and have to hear a character ramble, but I like how the story is presented and the pacing is great. I like the interconnected level design, and how we have a choice of either taking the tram station or navigating the halls again. It adds that sense Prey (2017) had and its level design. There’re side quests and while I never felt the need to do them it’s nice, they offer you more reasons to explore and uncover secrets. The game has a ton of replay value and there's a new game plus mode that carries over all the upgrades you've unlocked and the money you've obtained. There's even an all-powerful suit lying for you once you enter new game plus and it's absolutely badass! Man, I've said badass a lot during this review. As you can tell by now Dead Space is a masterpiece and I have very few complaints. The only thing I’ll say is that the zero gravity sections suck despite being really cool, but otherwise this is a strong recommendation in my book. It’s seventy dollars but it’s one of few games worth that price. In the end I am going to give Dead Space Remake a 9.5/10 for excellence at best.
This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!