Okay allow me to drool for a few moments...
Right I am ready now. I am just going to say that I love the Dead Space franchise, I was not really into horror games and yet I could not get enough of this series. I have played all the games (except the one on ipad because I don't have an ipad) and own both of the films. I actually went out a bought a Wii just so that I could play Dead Space Extraction because that the time it was not available for any other console.
There are other media for this franchise which includes comics, novels and films. I have never really known a game to have spawned so many spin-off materials. Before anyone sends me an angry email, I said I have never known a game to spawn so many spin-offs I am not saying that there haven't been any others.
Anyway, I have already reviewed Dead Space Downfall and Aftermath so check out the TAC Reviews...Films section for my opinions on that.
Here I am going to be looking at the Dead Space games. I played the first 3 as well as Ignition using the PS3 versions, and initially played Dead Space Extraction on the Wii version. I am going to put them in the order in which I played them rather than the chronological order in which they take place.
If you aren't sure about the canon, the events of Dead Space Extraction happened first, then Dead Space, followed by Dead Space Ignition, then Dead Space 2 with DLC Severed happening at the same time with the next game being Dead Space 3 and finally Awakened concluding the series.
In this section you'll find reviews for:
Dead Space Extraction
Dead Space 2
Dead Space 2: Severed
Dead Space Ignition
Dead Space 3 + Carver's Missions
Dead Space 3 Awakened
The Death of Dead Space
Dead Space (remake)
Okay, if you are still with me then crack on with the reviews...
Date Posted: 06/01/15
Released in 2008 by Visceral Games and follows an engineer named Isaac Clarke as he travels to a mining ship the USG Ishimura to investigate a communications blackout as well as respond to a message from his girlfriend/wife/ex-girlfriend/ex-wife...okay I am not sure about that particular point.
Whilst I spend a lot of time sitting around lazily watching films or tv shows, I have also dipped by toes into computer games. Now whilst I am not a PC gamer, mainly because I cannot really be asked, I tend to favour the PS3 versions of games over the Xbox 360. In all honesty both consoles have their pros and cons but that is a review for another day, today I am going to review the first game in the franchise… Dead Space
The premise of the game is an engineer named Isaac Clarke goes to the USG Ishimura with four other members of an emergency maintenance team to respond to a communications blackout. After boarding the ship they are attacked by bizarre creatures that kill two of the crew separating Isaac from the other survivors and he must fight through a ship full of twisted monstrosities whilst trying to repair the ship and escape alive.
Isaac is a silent protagonist and spends the majority of the game being ordered by his two supporting characters to various locations to repair various systems. Now I assume Isaac doesn’t speak because if he did he might have suggested to his superiors that sending a 5 man team to investigate a mysterious communications power blackout on a vast mining ship might not be enough. Presumably in the Dead Space universe there are still pirates, hijackers, terrorists and so on which could have taken the ship by force so sending a larger force might have been a better idea. He might also demand that his two shipmates actually get off their lazy asses and help him, rather than sending him into hostile territory time and time again to fix things, but I digress.
Isaac’s motivation for coming to the mining ship is to find his girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, fiancé, or possibly ex-fiancé, the game is a little vague on this point so we don’t know exactly what Isaac’s relationship with Nicole actually is. Now as the game unfolds and Isaac travels deeper and deeper into the doomed ship he eventually finds Nicole alive and well, in the first encounter a chasm separates them, but why Isaac doesn’t pull off this helmet to talk to her is anyone’s guess. When they do eventually meet face to face Isaac doesn’t react to her presence at all. Now if it was me, and I had travelled through a mining ship full of walking nightmares in order to be reunited with the woman I love, and I finally found her I would wrap my tenticles around her tight enough to risk breaking her in half, but Isaac behaves as though she is nothing more than a drinking fountain. I have no idea why the game makers decided to make Isaac a silent character but I feel an opportunity was certainly missed to show how he interacts with Nicole, especially in light of what happens at the end and in later games.
During the game Isaac must use improvised mining tools to fight back against the monsters, and the method by which the creatures are killed makes a change. The game coins the phrase: strategic dismemberment, this means that the only way to kill the monsters is to cut off their limbs rather than simply shooting them in the head or a big pulsing weak point somewhere on their body. The armoured engineering suit can be upgraded with more health, and the weapons can also be upgraded with more ammo and damage. By the end of the game most players should have been able to upgrade at least 3 or 4 of their weapons and generally the game is not cruel enough to give you no ammo, and even if you do run short the player can craft more.
Game play is straight forward, there are markers which tell you where to go, and the support characters will remind you what to do if you are stuck. It is a 3rd person shooter with the camera hovering over Isaac’s shoulder. He has a device that can be used to slow down enemies and obstacles, and another that can be used to move heavy objects.
The game is pretty brutal at times with Isaac being eviscerated, torn apart, or dragged into holes to be killed. Personally I cannot say I found the game scary although there are a number of jump scares but even monsters that play dead only to leap up and attack do get predictable after a while. Isaac generally has enough ammo and is given the best weapon in the game at the beginning. There is even an achievement for getting through the whole game just using the plasma cutter (the starting weapon) so you can use it and nothing else if you want.
I am a big fan of this game and this franchise, the first game experiments with the concepts and there is a certain amount of tension to be had awaiting a jump scare but they just don't come often enough. The monstrosities you encounter throughout the ship are varied and the boss fights are pretty entertaining. If you’ve seen Event Horizon then you will see a lot of similarities between that film and this game still it is definitely worth playing if you like jump scares.
A lot of Dead Space is copied from other sources but on the whole it is good fun to play and is basically the Diet Coke of Horror, it has some moments that will make you jump but it is not a continuously scary experience which is a pity because it could have been truly terrifying.
Still, I am quite happy to give this game the Thumbs Up
7/10 - Shock scare game that suffers by keeping Isaac silent but the brutal and creative deaths, plus interesting story and scary setting make up for it
Date Posted: 11/04/15
Released originally on the Wii in 2009 and later on the PS3 Dead Space Extraction is a prequel to Dead Space and takes place during the same time as the anime movie Dead Space Downfall. It is a rail shooter in which you take over from the perspective of several characters and starts off on the colony and later on the Ishimura.
I may have mentioned before that I bought a Wii console just so I could play this game, and then it came out for the PS3 if you got the limited edition version of Dead Space 2. The game play is vastly different to the previous games as this is a simple rail shooter, I haven’t played many of those so I don’t know how it compares but what is to compare?? You are on a set path, a rail if you will, and you shoot enemies that are trying to kill you so if all rail-shooters are like that, what more can you really say?
You initially start playing as Sam Caldwell talking to his girlfriend Lexine and you witness the Marker activating, around you people start going insane and turning into monsters, so you are forced to defend yourself. At the end of the mission Nate McNeill, a security officer, shoots and kills Sam after asking him why he killed his entire dig team, you see it turns out Sam was the one that had gone insane not the people you have been killing.
You then switch to Nate as he meets his friend Gabe, and the rest of the game switches between the two as you witness the carnage happening on the colony as people go crazy then you witness them transforming into necromorphs. You meet other characters including Lexine, and attempt to escape the colony and make it to the orbiting Ishimura.
So after Dead Space was a 3rd person action adventure that had some jump scares, I am curious to know why Extraction was a rail shooter, I don’t know why they did that but it doesn’t really bother me too much. What I like about this game is seeing areas that we did not get to see in the original game, you get to see more of the colony and unlike the mission in Dead Space where you just pull the marker through a few rooms that didn’t really seem to have a function before the Marker was discovered, here you get to see a colony that people actually live in. You see P-Sec headquarters, and various other locations that give the impression that people actually live on this planet in this colony. This trend continues on once you get to the Ishimura and I love certain elements, like the barrier you build to block off Medical, which is the same barrier that Isaac would later have to destroy to progress.
What I don’t really like about the game is the laziness of the weaponry, in Dead Space you have to slice enemies apart to kill them and whilst you did get a flamethrower it was not great for taking down slashers or leapers, here it is basically the only weapon you need for the majority of the missions. It knocks enemies back, doesn’t take much ammo, and basically stops enemies from getting anywhere near you. However, you need to keep the plasma cutter or pulse rifle with you because there are a few boss fights that you’ll need them for.
The Wii remote does have some uses beyond being a gun, if you are playing the PS3 version then you use the analogue sticks to control your guns but that too is relatively straightforward.
The characters are relatively fleshed out, Nate is the sympathetic security officer whereas Gabe is a former soldier who doesn’t want Lexine dragging him and Nate down as they try to get the colony back under control. You also meet Eckhardt, a man who has “executive clearance” and leaps on every opportunity to mention it. You do pick up a few other people along the way but they are all essentially the Red shirts from Star Trek, they exist to get killed, and this does happen a lot. There is plenty of fan service which links it to Dead Space and unlike Downfall which is apparently happening at the same time, here the game developers seem to have taken the events of the original game into account. You meet Nicole (Isaac’s girlfriend) and she describes the events occurring on the crew deck as a “minor infection”. This fits with the events Isaac glimpsed in logs because the infestation of the Ishimura happened slowly over a period of several days rather than the rapid infection shown in Downfall.
You can pick up upgrades for your guns but all they do is give your weapon a bigger clip so there are no benches that you can use to upgrade your weapons.
I basically got this game so that I could experience more of the Dead Space universe, and like I said this has plenty of fan service. I like the characters and the game ends with a cliff hanger regarding the fate of the survivors that flee the doomed Ishimura. I would recommend playing it and considering that it can be purchased either with Dead Space 2 or off the PS Network you don’t need to go out and buy a Wii like I did.
Whilst it is not as good as the other games it is worth a look and consequently my Thumb is pointing Up.
6.5/10 – Worth a look and if you are a fan of the Dead Space games and want to know more about the universe and see areas of the Ishimura you did not see before then check it out.
Date Posted: 06/01/15
Following from the bleak jump scare joy that was Dead Space I was excitedly waiting for the sequel to come out, which it did in 2011. I was such a fan of Dead Space that I actually went a bought a Wii just so I could play the prequel Dead Space Extraction which was good fun but not as good as the original Dead Space. When I bought Dead Space 2 I brought the limited edition version which contained Dead Space Extraction on the disk too, thus rendering my purchase of a Wii rather pointless, but still, let’s take a look at Dead Space 2.
Set 3 years after the events of Dead Space Isaac has found himself on Titan Station, also known as The Sprawl and is made up of parts of one of Saturn’s moons, and the first planet cracked by the Ishimura. He awakens with no memory of events that has led him to be on the station and is awoken by a man named Franco (the protagonist from Dead Space Ignition) who is promptly turned into a necromorph and Isaac must escape from the medical facility he is being held in and try to figure out what has happened to the station.
Unlike the previous game this time Isaac does have a voice and a personality, he will lower his helmet and talk with other characters as he tries to figure out what is going on and how he is going to get off the station. What I find puzzling are the sequences when Isaac lowers his helmet for no good reason, at one point for example he is attacked by another character who tries to jam a screwdriver into his eye. Whilst wrestling with that character Isaac’s helmet somehow is lowered, this is a helmet that can hold up to the vacuum of space, and is sturdy enough to withstand necromorph attacks but when someone is trying to stab him in the eye Isaac decides to remove it, this I can only assume was to give the other guy a sporting chance I guess. This does happen more than once and always seems odd that Isaac’s helmet lowers during these moments and quick time events.
The controls are pretty much the same, but in zero gravity you can now float around with thrusters which gives you more freedom to explore.
The enemies have also evolved from the previous game with the Stalkers being especially creepy, and personally they were the only enemy that really made my hearts pound just that little bit harder. These have been called the “raptors of Dead Space” because they will hide and wait for Isaac to move into the room they are in before attacking him, one of the most unnerving moments being when they peek out from behind boxes or crates, and the sounds they make alert other members of their pack to the fact that Isaac has moved, is staying still, and when they do attack they come running screaming at you in a way that is truly terrifying. Later in the game you get the enhanced versions which are even creepier.
The rest of the enemies are not too troublesome, there is a group of children called the pack but they die in one shot and spawn a lot of resources so they are actually helpful at replenishing your health packs and ammo.
One of my favourite levels is one where you return to the Ishimura because although a lot of it has been cleaned there are uv lights which show the blood stains covering the floors and walls. It is eerie to explore the Ishimura once again and some parts of the ship you can float around in zero gravity which you were not able to do before. Whilst some might complain that this was done as a copy paste from the original I really like it, and to have Isaac actually comment on some of the events that occurred in Dead Space is really entertaining.
All in all I consider Dead Space 2 to be a superior sequel to the original, I found it harder than the original, and whilst the appearance of a regenerating necromorph doesn’t really make any sense as we have no idea where it came from and it just follows you around pointlessly trying to kill you, it doesn’t take much away from the overall experience.
8/10 – If you like Dead Space you’ll like this because it is pretty much more of the same
Date Posted: 09/03/15
Severed is a two chapter story in which we learn what happened to the survivors of Extraction and what they have been doing since escaping the Ishimura.
Taking place at the same time as the events of Dead Space 2 on the Sprawl in which we played as Isaac, in the DLC, (that’s downloadable content if you aren’t a nerd) we step into the shoes of Gabe Weller whom we played through some of Extraction as. He and Lexine are now married, with her being pregnant with his child, and Gabe working as one of the Sprawl’s security officers. Thankfully not one of the ones sent to hunt down Isaac because if he was he’d have probably been slaughtered either by the necromorphs when Isaac shut down the power to the government sector or by Isaac himself as he made his way towards the Marker. One of the themes with this DLC is that as Gabe you witness the aftermath of Isaac’s journey and he in turn encounters the effects of things that Gabe has done.
Being only two chapters this game focuses on the Mines and the Hospital wing where Isaac first woke up, and is concerned with Gabe trying to reach his wife after the necromorph outbreak. As we step back into Gabe’s shoes we find him injured, armed with a pulse rifle and alone as the rest of his team have been slaughtered. You’d have thought when the necromorphs attacked Gabe would have shouted out “Shoot off their limbs” or something similar “Blast off their limbs” or “Blow off their arms and legs” – you know something clear and to the point so he wouldn’t be the only survivor but hey-ho.
Anyway, as he fights through the mines it becomes clear that his superior officer wants him dead and some shady government types are trying to get their hands on Lexine. So not only does Gabe have to contend with the necromorphs, and the Twitcher, making a welcomed return after being absent from Dead Space 2 he has to deal with several human antagonists too.
Game play wise it is lifted directly from Dead Space 2, the controls are identical meaning that those who have played the previous games will have no trouble picking this one up and knowing what they are doing. The chapters are a little short but I guess you could argue what the hell do you want from a DLC that cost less than £5 and those are all points that I take on board.
However, one of the things I liked about Dead Space, Dead Space: Extraction and Dead Space 2 was the fact that when you finish the game you can repeat it with all of your weapons from the previous play through. Upping the replay value, for me anyway, immensely. In Severed you just start again with the same stuff that you got the first time, I was so looking forward to importing Isaac’s arsenal of weapons over into Severed and carving my initials into various monstrosities, but you can’t do that? Why can’t you do that? Or if importing Isaac’s weapons is asking too much, why can’t we use the weapons that we have upgraded in the first play through?? I have honestly lost track of the amount of times that I have played through the other games, and I did it because I wanted to find all the upgrades, and get all the trophies. I spent one play through of Dead Space equipping one weapon killing as many enemies as the trophy required with it, then casting it aside to equip the next one so I could slaughter the enemies with that one. Severed just left me with no desire to play it through again because I would essentially just be having the same experience as the first time which is frankly…boring.
I also don’t really like the fact that it is Gabe and Lexine that have gotten together. Remember Nathan McNeill?? In Extraction when Gabe and Nathan find Lexine, Gabe is quite happy to leave her behind, probably to die on the colony, it is only Nate that insisted on bringing her along. There was chemistry between the two, and it seems unlikely that after being so quick to write Lexine off as dead that she and Gabe would end up together. Was the wedding toast awkward do we think?? Did Gabe say “I remember when a group of swarmers grabbed her on the Ishimura and dragged her into a water tank, how my friend Nate and this other guy we were with valiantly dived in after her whilst I remained on the catwalk because I went ahead and assumed she was dead already” did he then chuckle and say “Good times” Admittedly I haven’t been to many weddings but that doesn’t strike me as the kind of thing that you’d mention and if it was me it is the kind of thing that would make me hold a grudge against someone – not shack up with them.
I have to say that whilst I like the design of the twitchers overall Severed left me disappointed, there was a lot of potential here. Isaac can build and destroy Markers with his brain and Lexine seems immune to the Marker’s effects. Why haven’t these two crossed paths yet?? Surely that would have made a much more interesting story rather than trekking through the Mines and Hospital as Gabe with the game nudging you every once in awhile nodding at something and going “See that broken window?? Isaac broke that, see we’re on the same station as him, and we’re just as important”
No, Severed, you are not. You are not as important as Isaac and his story arc.
After enjoying the first three games which all boasted the ability to go back and play plus games, I resent this one for not letting me do that. I want to kick arse with Isaac’s signature Plasma Cutter whilst playing as Nathan, if I’m honest, but Gabe is not that bad.
It strikes me as a real missed opportunity, something really good could have been developed, and linked in with Isaac but nope, all we got was play as Gabe, fight through the Mines and then the Hospital, nothing new, nothing original and ultimately not really worth the effort.
I don’t want to rate this DLC poorly but considering I have only played it once all the way through and did not want to play it again forced my Thumb Down
4/10 – That is me being generous, if I hadn’t built it up in my mind so much I would probably have rated it higher, but it is a wasted opportunity. If you haven’t played it then lower your expectations and you might enjoy it, as for me, I was left disappointed.
Date Posted: 26/12/15
Unlike the majority of the other games in the series which were 3rd person perspective this game is more like an interactive comic book. This game is established in the game canon as a prequel to the events of Dead Space 2 and features a new protagonist named Franco (you know the bloke that was killed as soon as Dead Space 2 began) as he travels around the Sprawl trying to repair damaged systems whilst keeping one step ahead of the Necromorphs with his partner/girlfriend Sarah.
This is a pretty short game and there is not much of a story, however, uniquely in the Dead Space universe it does have several different branches to the story which encourages players to go through the game multiple times to see everything.
So what is going on then…??
The game features a story told through comics that move a little bit, and voice overs from Franco and Sarah. Franco is an engineer and Sarah is a security officer, the pair have been in a relationship for six months but neither of their colleagues are aware of that. With various systems failing on the Sprawl (some due to sabotage) the pair are required to head to various locations to fix different systems, along the way they are given opportunities to do different objectives, some following the instructions of Franco’s boss as well as people Sarah knows or helping out people you meet on the Sprawl.
Regardless of which paths you take Franco ultimately ends up at the Hospital Wing in order to awaken Isaac Clarke…
Game play wise there are essentially three different mini-game puzzles. The three are…well, how can I describe them?? Actually it is probably easier to just show you what is involved in each one, so this is the first of the three:
In this one you have to reroute power to various locations along the circuit board, as the game goes on these become increasingly complicated. But you also gain additional tools to help you get through them, there are time limits but you usually have more than enough time to figure them out.
The second is this one:
In this game you control the red line and have to navigate through different obstacles whilst the blue lines (which represent counter-hacking threads) attempt to beat you. Again these get more complicated, still you do also get other ways and means of slowing down the pursuing lines. Your tools include speed boosts and stuff like that. The perspective of the 2D maps shift around as do the controls so that does take a little bit of getting used to, but like with all other puzzles you can immediately retry them should you fail.
Finally there is this one:
This is the only one of the three that actually gets much, much easier as the game progresses because the tools that you will unlock make it increasingly trivial. It is trickier when you have limited hacking tools at your disposal but later on once you have the good stuff you can destroy these hacking games easily.
The main thing that Ignition does is add a bit more depth to the world of Dead Space, yes we are following two characters one of which we know dies at the beginning of Dead Space 2 and as we have never seen Sarah after this game what do you think happens to her?? What Sarah’s ultimate fate is depends on the actions you take as Franco so there is a decent level of interactivity with the proceedings. The comic book idea is quite creative and they move a little so it is watching an animated comic book with decent voice acting. Franco’s voice actor (Jason DeVan) reprises his role from the beginning of Dead Space 2 thus cementing this as part of the Dead Space canon, but the overall question is: apart from seeing some of the chaos that happened on the Sprawl prior to Isaac waking up, what other reason do you have to play Ignition??
When playing through Dead Space 2 did you notice various Conduit Rooms?? If you have an eagle eye or just like to explore every nook and cranny of every level then you may have just wondered what they were and why you couldn’t go into them. Well if you have a completed safe file of Ignition then these rooms are open to you and contain extra power nodes as well as more interesting logs that chart Franco’s journey through the Sprawl. Plus you get a nifty Hacking suit that gives you 15% armour and 15 inventory slots which is very useful for a harder play though of Dead Space 2.
After you have finished the game you can also just replay the comics as well which means if you just want to see those you don’t have to play through the entire game again.
Overall Dead Space: Ignition is a nice little addition to the Dead Space canon, the DLC’s for this franchise are a tad hit and miss for my liking and as this review is sitting before my review Awakened I won’t say anything more than that. As far as Dead Space: Ignition is concerned I like it and am happy to give it a Thumbs Up.
7/10 – A neat little interactive comic book that is short enough to encourage you to play through it again and again to see all the different branching paths, but it is not so short that it is not worth bothering with. Plus the content which carries over to Dead Space 2 is well worth the cost of this game and gives you more Dead Space 2 to play which is always a good thing.
Date Posted: 07/08/15
Since Dead Space 2 raised the bar from Dead Space you can imagine that I was eagerly awaiting the third instalment, although, as the release date drew closer and I started to hear more about the game I started to have my reservations. The game seemed to be leaning more towards action than horror and whilst I have never really found the Dead Space games scary the potential for something to leap out and make you jump was always present. I was beginning to think that Dead Space 3 would be lacking in that regard, the other issue that made me raise an arching eyebrow was the addition of co-op game play.
So were my fears warranted I hear you ask…well, yes and no.
Allow me to explain that rather weak statement. Isaac is now living in hiding following the events of Dead Space 2 because he has the capacity to both create and destroy Markers. His ex-girlfriend Ellie has gone off to what she expects is the Marker homeworld and Isaac is dragged along for the ride by her new boyfriend Norton, and a grizzled military guy called Carver (you know because you carve-up enemies – clever right?). This time around you don’t just have to contend with necromorphs, the unitologists take a more active role this time and you have to battle their soldiers as well as the usual monstrosities. You are thrown straight into the action with your trusty plasma cutter by your side and must battle your way through a colony before flying off to the planet Ellie has gone to. Here you spend a bit of time exploring derelict ships in orbit round the planet before heading down to the surface. You then face more creatures, human soldiers and delve deeper into the source of the Markers and how you can end them forever.
This is the moment when I will clarify that “yes and no” statement. The above is basically classic Dead Space, you know fighting monsters and such whilst investigating the Markers, and that part of it I like. But this time around the guns are all filled with a generic brand of ammo so you will never really have the danger of running out, thus meaning that the game is more focussed on shooting the place up, rather than having your back to the wall fighting enemies whilst wondering if your ammo will hold out, this I don’t like so much but I have to admit that it is still fun.
The necromorphs have changed again and have new designs and so on but because you have so much ammo they are really more of an irritation than anything else. This brings me on to another point that Dead Space 3 has introduced, optional missions, some of which you can do alone and some co-op (more on that later) In Dead Space and Dead Space 2 Isaac is alone, trapped and looking for a way of escaping with his limbs intact, but in Dead Space 3 Isaac is asked or just decides to have a look himself in areas crawling with necromorphs and/or unitologist soldiers which really undermines the threat they pose. The Isaac of Dead Space (if he could talk) and Dead Space 2 would have told his support characters to piss off if they had said “Would you mind going into an area full of monsters that want to kill you, that you don’t have to be in to investigate a message that may or may not be important” in this game Isaac simply replies he’ll check it out if he has time. If he is choosing to go into these areas then clearly the enemies contained within cannot be something Isaac is too concerned about.
Now whilst doing the optional missions reward you with collectables what really infuriates me about Dead Space 3 are the co-op optional missions. You can happily play the game single player with Carver appearing in cut scenes then running off a different way to meet up with you at the next cut scene, obviously if you are playing co-op you play through the game together going the same route. But, and this is a very big but, there are certain missions which lock you out if you are playing single player, this in itself is irritating, but what is more irritating is the fact that certain collectables are included in these missions so anyone playing on single player cannot get 100% completion and all the unlockables. If you are not someone that cares about those things then horay for you, but for me, for the developers of a game to lock out part of the game unless you are with a friend is just discriminating. I don’t like playing games online. I like to play a computer game whilst sprawled on the sofa with my feet up, I don’t want to be trawling through internet forums asking if anyone fancies playing Dead Space 3 because my gamer friends have Xbox 360’s so cannot play the PS3 version online with me. What I really don’t get about these missions is why there is not an option to simply switch characters for those missions in the same way you can play certain parts of Batman Arkham City as Catwoman. This would have solved the problem so single players can still get all the collectables without having to kidnap a fellow PS3 owner and force them to play a handful of levels with you just so you can get the 100% trophy.
Dead Space games are supposed to be scary, and whilst they aren’t they were at least trying to frighten before, now there is tonnes of ammo with the autosave being exploitable to increase any dwindling supplies you may have if you are ridiculously trigger-happy. Whilst I’m on that point the autosave feature also bugs me. I like to play a game, save it, then think “Right as tomorrow I shall be continuing from that point next time I can charge around for a bit shooting things and just having a look at what is coming up in the next few rooms”. Here I tried to do the same thing, went running into a room to have a look around shot a bunch of enemies wasting ammo, then the game saved.
I still like Dead Space 3 but by making it more of a shoot-em-up it has lost what made the Dead Space games different from so many others. Isaac is supposed to be an engineer fighting his way through hordes of monsters with ammo and health dwindling, but here his engineering skills can be used to build whatever weapons you want. You gather weapon parts you see. This is obviously designed to allow you to make hugely powerful guns, and is why the ammo fits any weapon. Personally I simply made a plasma cutter which had another plasma cutter attached to it, added enough damage circuits to kill most things in one shot. Then just for a giggle I built a pulse rifle with a rocket launcher underneath. It was at this point that the game may have just rolled the credits because with these two weapons I took apart all challengers with little to no difficulty which is a real shame. The Stalkers reappear but in this one they spend so much time poking their heads out from behind cover it is easy to shoot them between the eyes, and if you do hit them they don’t run to another location they simply charge at you allowing you to simply shoot their legs out from under them.
I did play the game in classic mode which locks out weapons building and only allows you to build classic weapons whilst locking the difficulty into hard. If you attempt this mode so three things, one, upgrade your plasma cutter, two, build and upgrade a pulse rifle, and finally when you enter the cargo hold in chapter five you will be confronted by a regenerator, get past it and a couple of other necromorphs run into the next room (nothing chases you in there). Return to the cargo bay and collect every item you missed, return to the bench and deposit everything you have into it, then save and quit. This saves your inventory and restarts you back before the cargo bay, rinse, lather and repeat. This method gave me loads of ammo and health. This is the exploit of autosave I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago and it makes classic a lot easier, the reward of doing this mode is the hand cannon which is a one-shot kill weapon which makes the game laughably easy, but laughably easy gets really dull really fast.
Considering how much I have said about this game compared to the other two does meant that it did give me more to talk about, but a lot of those things were not positive. Dead Space 3 is still fun but it has become a more generic shooter that has lost everything that made the previous games so enjoyable.
6/10 – Yes it is fun, but adding missions that are locked out if you aren’t playing co-op are annoying and this time the necromorphs are just irritating rather than threatening.
Date Posted: 07/01/15
Since writing the above review for Dead Space 3 I have played the co-op missions with a friend of my skin sack. So in the interests of being fair I am going to share my opinions of the side missions, and the effort I went through in order to complete them.
So, after purchasing a second-hand copy and getting online, I initially played as Isaac Clarke with my skin sack's friend J playing as Carver, now I had all my stuff and level progress having played through the game numerous times and was armed with a fully upgraded RIG plus my Hand Cannon. We started off slow with the early missions to give J the opportunity to get some practice in playing his first Dead Space game. Naturally as I was ridiculously overpowered compared to him all he really needed to do was keep up as I mowed down everything in our path. He quipped a line from Under Siege at one point saying that “the safest place on the ship was right behind [me]” so did not really need to do much as my Hand Cannon decimated anything that shambled towards us.
Confident that with me beside him we would take down any and all opponents, I jumped ahead to the co-op levels, and as we did the missions we found that J as Carver would enter a hallucination world (similar to the experience Isaac has at the end of Dead Space 2 where Isaac was attacked by Nicole and the “shadow” pack). During these sequences Carver would fall to his knees and it was up to me as Isaac to defend him from waves of necromorphs that would not stop coming until Carver has completed his mission within the hallucination.
Things were initially going well…then we ran into a problem.
After two co-op missions, I was confident that we would be able to do the third mission without too much difficulty. Unfortunately this was the hardest of the missions and J kept getting killed by the “shadow” pack, time and time again we attempted to do the mission but because I could do nothing but defend Carver in the real world J was on his own against relentless enemies that would not stop coming. His weapons were piss-weak and his RIG was very poorly armoured. Finally we came up with a solution, we quit to the main menu, and J loaded the game up then invited me to join his game, therefore I was now playing as Carver with my trusty Hand Cannon by my side. We re-did the mission and still we had difficulties, now playing as Isaac, J was overwhelmed by necromorphs a few times whilst I was doing the hallucinations, fortunately we eventually got to the mission that had given J so much trouble. I was able to destroy the Marker in the hallucination so quickly that the first necromorph had barely popped out of the vent and closed the gap towards J before I was back in the real world as Carver and slaughtered it.
Thus the final co-op mission was complete and I have a save file with 100% completion as well as all the weapon upgrades and everything else that are hidden within the formerly locked off missions.
So, were these missions worth the effort of buying someone else a copy of the game, babysitting them through the main missions and relying on them to complete a side quest they had no investment in just so I could get a 100% completion save file and the extra suits, upgrades circuits, weapon components, and logs??
Er…well…I have to say that, yes, it is cool that I have now unlocked all the suits so can switch to different ones if I want to, sadly, as I said in the main review of Dead Space 3 in my opinion there was absolutely no reason why these missions could not have been completed by switching to Carver whilst Isaac was off doing something more important. Plus when playing on two screens Carver would see different things to Isaac which did add to the creepiness factor but on the whole why, oh why, could we not have simply switched to playing these missions as Carver rather than going through all this faff??
If you know someone who has a copy of Dead Space 3 then by all means get them to join you and do the extras missions (which you have probably done already) but unless you are like me and want to unlock absolutely everything possible because you hate not having all the suits, weapon components, upgrade circuits. Plus not having a game with a 100% completion really gets on your nerves then you are not really missing much if you don’t do these co-op missions.
My original rating and Thumb remain the same because although the Carver missions help to flesh out his character they do nothing spectacular enough to make the main game better, nor are they offensive enough to bring the overall rating down either.
Date Posted: 24/12/15
As you know I am a big fan of all things Dead Space and following the end of Dead Space 3 it seemed that the Markers had finally been stopped once and for all. With the Markers destroyed or shut down then the threat of the necromorphs seemed to have also been halted in its tracks. We knew that Isaac was still alive but the question of his final fate was left unknown, that question was answered in Dead Space Awakened a 3 chapter DLC released in 2013.
If you’ve read my reviews to date then you know that Dead Space 3 gave me a lot to talk about, some of the comments were positive but the game annoyed me by locking out content if you weren’t playing co-op. Plus the guns could be hugely overpowered thus removing any and all challenge from the proceedings, hell, after I got the Hand Canon from completing Classic Mode I put the game on Impossible difficulty just give myself a slight challenge.
Now as a huge fan of Dead Space I have made a point of playing anything and everything Dead Space related, I even played through Dead Space Ignition, and so when a DLC for Dead Space 3 was released I naturally jumped on it. I’d heard that Awakened was going to return to the scary and creepy roots of the franchise, I was curious how they were going to do this if the co-op mode was still one of the game’s key features. Now before I get on to whether the game was any good or not, let me clue you in regarding what is happening…
Isaac and Carver awaken on the surface of the planet following their battle with the Tau Volantis Brethren Moon, they are not dead, they have somehow survived falling back to the planet surface, Isaac’s injuries have healed and miraculously his suit has fixed itself. The pair decide that the Unitologists must have had a large contingent on the surface and must have a ship or two left that the pair can use to get back to Earth. Naturally now that the threat of the Markers has ended they don’t have to worry about necromorphs so it should be plain sailing…right…well, actually no. It turns out the Brethren Moon they destroyed awakened the other Moons and they are seeking the location of Earth in order to consume the human race.
Isaac and Carver must battle their own growing insanity and new cult of Unitologists that are worshipping the necromorphs instead of Michael Altman. The game starts off on the icy surface of the planet before the pair return to the Sovereign Colonies flotilla still in orbit when the cult has turned the CMS Terra Nova into a flying house of horrors. It is here that Isaac and Carver must face their fears if they have a chance of preventing the Moons from finding Earth.
Game play wise everything functions in exactly the same way as Dead Space 3 as the game engine, the environments and the ship in orbit is taken from the primary game. Once again you can either play in co-op or Carver will run off in some other direction and meet you for the cut scenes if you want to play through alone.
So what did I like??
The opportunity to play more Dead Space 3, and the sections where Isaac is hallucinating various monsters can be very creepy. It is a welcome return to the feel of the original Dead Space game. The hallucinations are genuinely unnerving and seeing Isaac start to really loose his mind is something a bit different, he has managed to keep his mind and sanity in check up to this point. Fans may criticise him seemingly suddenly going insane but then he has never been subjected to the manipulations of the Brethren Moons before so it is perhaps not surprising that he begins to crack. Carver seems to maintain his own sanity, but as I could not be bothered to go through the faff of getting J to play the DLC with me online I don’t know how crackers he actually goes. Being back on the surface of the planet means we are seeing the same locations again now whilst this could be argued was done so that the developers would not need to create new areas for us to see I don’t really see it that way. I can understand that argument but this is only a DLC so you can’t ask for too much from it. As you may recall I found Dead Space 2 Severed very frustrating because we were playing as Gabe Weller, none of Isaac’s weapons carried through to another play through, and the fact that it was Gabe not Nate that had survived to shack up with Lexine. Thankfully we are playing as Isaac again and any items you had during the main story play through do carry over so if you have the Hand Canon and want to make this very easy for yourself then use it, but any upgraded weapons will still be with you. Plus you find level 3 upgraded circuits in this game which will again transfer to a new game+ in the main story so it is worth getting this DLC for those reasons.
I liked the idea that Isaac (and Carver) had sacrificed themselves to destroy the Markers and the Brethren Moon at the end of Dead Space 3, Ellie confirmed at the end of the main game that the Marker signals were gone, and with the destruction of the Brethren Moon with the others in hibernation all seemed well in the Dead Space universe. Ellie mourned Isaac as she shocked out of the system only for a crackling radio message to whisper “…Ellie…” so we knew that Isaac was alive but Carver’s fate was unknown
The story as I understood things is as follows…ahem…The Markers are part of a wider plan, okay fine, the Markers triggering a Conversion event that creates a new Brethren Moon, no problem with that either, Isaac killing one of these creatures by firing Markers into its eyes, sure why not I can still dig it. Isaac falling out of a low planetary orbit with Carver and… somehow surviving…right, er, still with you Dead Space 3. They were are on an alien Machine that was designed to kill this thing so yep I’m sure this is still fine as it does indeed kill the Moon so perhaps it was designed to keep anyone using it safe after the Moon died.
Tell me, how exactly did Isaac and Carver, who were separated as they were falling, somehow land in a ravine, totally unharmed and side by side?? Why has Isaac’s helmet reappeared after he tore it off before the final battle with the Moon started?? Plus where have his injuries gone?? You are asking us to take a lot on faith Dead Space Awakened, you want us to believe that not only did the Machine safeguard them as they fell, but it also somehow reunited the pair inside a ravine?? Was the Machine also designed to somehow teleport survivors to a safe location after the Moon was killed, so was there anything this Machine couldn’t do?? It somehow kept Isaac and Carver safe as they fell, healed Isaac’s head injuries, repaired his suit and put the two of them together safe and sound under the planet’s surface. I wonder if it also made them a cup of tea…
If we put a pin in that particular point, we are tripped up almost immediately by another, so the Marker signal was stopped and the human race saved…hooray…3 decent games that ended when they were still good. Sadly what would Dead Space be without the monstrous necromorphs?? Therefore it turns out that the Marker signal has been reawaken by the other Brethren Moons that the Tau Volantis Moon contacted before it perished, and they are coming for Earth. So the struggle at the end of Dead Space 3 has only made things a hell of a lot worse and the other Moons have reawaken the necromorphs on the planet (and presumably anywhere else there is a Marker) therefore the human race is not out of the woods just yet
This a little spoiler…but take a look at this…
This is Norton reanimated as a necromorph, it is a nice touch and it makes a change to see a necromorph that we clearly recognise, however, I don’t know anyone that didn’t stomp the shit out of Norton’s corpse before throwing it over the nearest cliff, so how can his intact necromorph-self be in this game??
The stalkers reappear and so does the pack, but both are comprised of alien bodies now rather than human ones, so where were they hiding the entire main game?? Plus when Isaac is having hallucinations of various monsters attacking him why is he able to pick up the stuff they drop in the real world after the hallucination ends?? It makes no sense. Once we return to the Terra Nova the enemies change to mostly humans that have mutilated themselves with appendages to make them more necromorph-like. Thing is because they are human a shot in the head will put them down permanently so they aren’t exactly hard to kill. There are a few necromorphs on the ship which presumably don’t attack the members of the cult but as they are not in the same place it is unknown if they would or not. The leader of the cult is some unknown bloke and not (as some fans mistakenly believe) Randall Carr, he appears and cannot be killed until the final sequence which echoes of the fight sequence between Isaac and Nicole from the end of Dead Space 2. The Brethren Moons are acting through him which allows him to mess with Isaac’s mind but in the end he is just another squishy mortal that can be crushed beneath your mighty boot.
There is nothing new on display here, same locations, same enemies (pretty much) and the continuation of a story that should have come to an end in the finale of Dead Space 3. The ending of the DLC also leaves some minor unanswered questions at the end like…er…did the human race survive the Brethren Moons?? We know that EarthGov has basically fallen due to the actions of the Unitologists so was there anyone left to protect the fragile planet when a bunch of hungry planet sized monsters appeared and started to feed??
Ultimately I liked being able to play more Dead Space and keeping my stuff from the original game plus anything I picked up in the DLC was cool. The hallucination sections were also nice and creepy with Isaac really questioning his own sanity and what must be done to stop the Moons. Unfortunately it was a continuation to a story that should have ended, Isaac sacrificed himself to save the human race and to save the woman he loved, the sun set on this story arc…now they have shown us what happened when the sun came up again. We didn’t need this DLC and it leaves us with unanswered questions. If there is another game (which is doubtful due to the poor sales of this one compared to the first and second games) where is it going to start from?? Are we to slaughter the attacking Moons, robbing them of any potential threat they posed at the end of this game?? Will it be a massive cop out in which the Moon were defeated off screen and Isaac and Carver will wake up somewhere else??
I dunno…but I would like to find out.
More of Dead Space 3 was good, bringing my Hand Canon along for the ride was also quite funny, and getting to blow a necromorph version of Norton into mush was great fun. Sadly this is an unnecessary addition to the story, it doesn’t make much sense, it leaves a whole lot of unanswered questions left over from the end of Dead Space 3 and adds a bunch of new ones.
Overall it is let down by the story itself and whilst I have to admit I did like playing it, which makes me want to give it a Thumbs Up I really wanted the Dead Space franchise to end after the titanic battle between Isaac and a Necromorph Moon so that makes me want to jam my Thumb so far Down Awakened’s throat that I could choke a Brethren Moon. As a result I’ll give it my meh rating, there is stuff to like and stuff to hate, so I cannot do any better than keeping my Thumb Horizontal.
5/10 – This is a DLC that is better than Dead Space Severed but basically it is a couple of additional hours to mess around on Tau Volantis and on the Terra Nova so if that is your cup of tea then check it out. Unfortunately it carries on a story that should have concluded at the end of Dead Space 3 because now we are left with tonnes of unanswered questions that may never be answered.
Date Posted: 13/01/18
I was doing some editing of this website the other day and found myself reading over my Dead Space reviews. I remember how exited I was at the prospect of new games coming out, and as I said numerous times during those reviews, actually went out and bought a Wii console just so I could play Dead Space Extraction.
With numerous games like Uncharted, the Batman Arkham games, and Alien Isolation getting a graphical update and being resold on PS4 and Xbox One consoles I had been hoping that the Dead Space main trilogy would get the same treatment, with possibly the others being available as either DLC or in the Trilogy pack. I did some Internet searches and there seemed to be a strong enough fan base that wanted the games to get a HD version released on the latest-Gen consoles, so why hasn’t it been done if fans would happily buy it??
It turns out the studio behind the games, Visceral, was closed by EA in 2017 and with them it also seems have gone any hopes for additional games in the Dead Space franchise or an HD release. It was reported (and later denied by EA) that the failure of Dead Space 3 to reach the required number of sold units was the reason for the studio’s closure.
Was it corporate greed that led to the fall of Visceral and the end of Dead Space??
Let’s take a look at the timeline and see if we can work it out…
The first game was released in 2008 and was a commercial success. It introduced players to the science-fiction elements but blended that with horror. The enemies couldn’t be killed by simply blasting their heads off or shooting a huge pulsating weak point (well, not most of them anyway). Some enemies could become more dangerous if they were shot in the wrong place but more importantly the world of Dead Space was interesting. The mysterious religion Unitology that was based around strange Markers, the Marker itself which caused insanity, and lead to the creation of twisted monsters called Necromorphs. In that first game there were conspiracies, double crosses, and all the while you are guiding mute engineer Isaac Clarke through a malfunctioning ship whilst desperately searching for the women he loves.
The first game had set the bar, the USG Ishimura was dark, creepy and at any moment something could come leaping out of the shadows. It got me with jump scares a few times but beyond that it was not especially frightening, and Visceral weren’t stingy enough to really leave you short of ammo so shooting your way out of a tight spot was always the best option, especially when the Quarantine field locked you in a room with various monsters. Having a means of defending yourself really stopped this game from being true survival horror.
Fortunately the game featured a +game mode which resulting in me playing it through numerous times which lead to me becoming a big fan of this franchise.
Dead Space was so successful that it spawned comics, graphic novels, books as well as two animated movies. I heard that at one time a live-action film was also in the works, so with such a strong opening what went wrong??
Dead Space Extraction followed soon after the first game, and whilst it was a straight forward rail-shooter it was good fun to play. Extraction was set just before the events of the original game and introduced a few new characters and monsters. One of those being Lexine, a woman that was seemly immune to the effects of the Marker and would keep anyone around her free of its effects as well. There were numerous times during the game when the other characters hallucinated after being separated from her but not when she was around. The game fitted into the canon of the series nicely and fans speculated that the garbled message the Kellion received at the beginning of Dead Space was actually from Lexine and Co as they escaped the Ishimura. Just like the original, Extraction finished on a cliff-hanger with the fate of the survivors being left unknown.
Again playing on a +game mode was present so I went through it a number of times.
When Dead Space 2 came out it included a no longer mute Isaac Clarke who awakened on a space station to discover a new necromorph outbreak. As the game went on he met fellow survivor Ellie Langford, and learned that the Marker from the first game had imprinted information in his head, which gave him the ability to create more Markers. For three years he was held captive and was used to create a monstrous Marker that caused the new outbreak. He was able to stop an event called Convergence and destroy the Marker at the same time halting the outbreak but at the cost of Titan Station.
This game followed the trend of its predecessor and did what any good sequel should do; it used the original as a stepping off point. In this game the Unitologists are actively trying to capture Isaac in order to use him to create more Markers, whilst EarthGov is trying to clean up their own mess by killing Isaac before anyone can realise what part they played in the outbreak. The necromorphs had developed which gave birth to the creepy as hell stalkers, but also demonstrated that the Necromorph-infection could change, and evolve. Making it a much harder threat to try and stop. I especially enjoyed a level, which took place back on the Ishimura. Isaac was silent throughout Dead Space but to hear him actually comment on things that had happened in the first game was a highlight.
Guess what the game also featured???
Yep, a +game mode so guess what I did…
Perhaps the first of Dead Space’s missteps occurred at this point, the DLC Severed disappointed me greatly. It had such promise, we were playing as the survivors of Extraction, EarthGov were trying to get their hands on Lexine and her unborn child for reasons unknown. Plus Gabe was desperately fighting his way through the Sprawl to find her. Sadly it did not feature the +game mode and the story itself was largely uninteresting with Gabe not the survivor I wanted to be playing as. I hate wasted potential and this DLC just seemed to be there to squeeze a few extra pounds out of the game’s fan base.
Still the bad taste left in my mouth following Severed did not prevent me enjoying the main game. I went on to play Ignition just so I would have more stuff to do when I played through Dead Space 2 again.
The game was also popular and sold well enough to warrant a third instalment…Dead Space 3.
This game boasted that we would be venturing to the Marker Homeworld to stop the Markers at their source once and for all. However, this time around we didn’t just have to contend with the monsters, because the Unitologists had staged a coup and brought down most of EarthGov. With new outbreaks happening across the galaxy as Unitologists unleashed Markers from testing sights and Unitologist soldiers dogging Isaac’s every step things seemed bleak for our hero, fortunately for him, this time he was going to have someone to back him up…John Carver.
I think that the inclusion of Co-Op play to Dead Space was a big mistake.
The games had been about Isaac running for his life, fighting with his back to the wall, and desperately trying to survive. Now, going to the Marker Homeworld to destroy them all was noble goal. Sadly whilst the game was good, and I did enjoy it, it lacked everything that had made the previous games so much fun. The creepy atmosphere, the claustrophobic environments, and most of all (due to being able to make your own weapons) the necromorphs themselves were more annoying than threatening.
The single player campaign was tweaked so that if you were playing alone Carver would be going a different way so you didn’t have bad companion AI to worry about, but a survival horror game cannot be survival horror if there is someone else tagging along.
The core of the game was lost and personally for a game to lock out content if you aren’t playing Co-Op is infuriating.
There was naturally a solution, buy your skin sack’s mate a copy of the game so they can play it with you (which is what I did) so not only did EA get money from me when I bought my own copy, they got more money from me when I bought my skin sack’s mate a copy too.
The pound squeezing also did not end there. The game included the edition of micro-transactions. Ration Seals that gave you more resources and crafting materials could be bought in game. All of the Dead Space games had their fair share of DLC suits, and weapons. The thing is if you wanted to buy those you went to the Playstation Store, the Ration Seals were on the workbenches within the game itself. In addition to those Dead Space 3 also had DLC that would enable your scavenger bot to scavenge faster, to gather more resources, and even give it a quirky personality. All three of those were ones you’d pay for individually, not one upgrade that did all three, nope, three upgrades for your scavenger bot.
Now I got through the game perfectly fine without using micro-transitions and the only DLC I got was Awakened.
When asked about why Dead Space 3 included Co-Op and was more of an action shooter this was allegedly EA Label’s Present Frank Gibeau’s response “In general we’re thinking about how we need to make this a more broadly appealing franchise, because ultimately you need to get to audience sizes of around five million to really continue to invest in an IP like Dead Space”. The story in which this quote featured was later described as “Standard, shoddy website journalism” by EA’s Peter Moore and EA itself described the report as “patently false”
However Dead Space 3 did not perform as well as its predecessors because science-fiction survival horror was a niche. Plus how could it hope to do better when the core of the game, its very heart had been shamelessly ripped out. There are hundreds of games out there that are focussed on action and just shooting the place up. For a good science-fiction horror setting Dead Space was one of only a handful of places that players could go.
Was Dead Space a victim of EA trying to broaden the game to suit a wider audience by making it an action-shooter with drop-in, drop-out Co-Op game play??
Was Visceral tired of the licence and wanted to try something else??
Honestly I have no idea, naturally in the business world making money is all that matters and if a game doesn’t perform as well as it is expected to, then why would further instalments be developed??
Dead Space started off so strongly with a wealth of characters, locations, technologies and lore to develop. In my opinion it is likely the hand of EA that lead to Dead Space’s downfall because as they have had to weather the recent backlash of micro-transitions that they tried to put into Star Wars Battlefront II shows, all they are interested in is people’s money. The Dead Space franchise almost charts the creeping in of these kinds of shady practices, in the first game just cosmetic DLC was released, by Dead Space 2 shitty story DLC and by the third game, micro-transactions linked directly to how easy or hard it was to gather resources.
It is such a shame because there is still potential for more stories, Isaac Clarke can make and destroy Markers with his brain, and Lexine is immune to the Markers’ effects. Why haven’t these two crossed paths yet??
Sadly these are questions that will likely only be answered in fan-forums or fan-fictions. As far as I am concerned (rightly or wrongly) Dead Space and Visceral Studios are just another example of corporate greed destroying something that had a solid fan base.
Perhaps we will get that HD Trilogy one day but I seriously doubt it.
So it seems that a franchise that was popular enough to spawn books, comics and so on, and was one of my favourites, is gone and leaves behind only dead space.
Date Posted 09/03/2023
You are probably sitting there wondering if I have taken leave of my senses, as I have made no secret of my love for Dead Space over the years but I have already reviewed it and its sequels so why would I be doing it again. Well, here is the thing, this version of Dead Space is a remake of the original featuring Gunner Wright returning to voice Isaac Clarke (who he voiced in Dead Space 2 and Dead Space 3) with Tanya Clarke reprising her role as Nicole Brennan.
I learned of the Dead Space Remake last year and naturally was eagerly awaiting its arrival. A couple of months ago I treated myself to a PS5 because I could, and whilst I cannot say that I purchased it just for Dead Space, I can honestly say that this game might have been enough for me to buy the console so I could experience the game in all its glory.
Now just in case you are unfamiliar with the game and its plot, allow me to introduce you to the world of Dead Space.
The setting is the 26th Century and the game opens with a repair ship named the USG Kellion on its way to investigate a communications blackout on a planet-cracker starship named the USG Ishimura. As the smaller vessel approaches it is damaged by an auto-docking malfunction which results in its crash-landing inside the Ishimura’s hanger bay. The crew of the Kellion comprising Commanding Officer Zach Hammond (voiced by Anthony Alabi), Computer specialist Kendra Daniels (Brigitte Kali Canales), Engineer Isaac Clarke, and Security officers Aiden Chen (Chris Wu) and Hailey Johnston (Erica Luttrell) escape the crash relatively unscathed, although Johnston suffers a broken ankle and remains onboard the damaged ship. Hammond leads the others into the Flight Lounge but to their surprise no one is there to greet them. Isaac accesses a diagnostic panel as a hazard anomaly alarm trips and a monstrous creature bursts into the room, and kills Chen. Isaac flees as more monsters attack and is able to temporarily escape the creatures. Hammond and Kendra also escape and the three communicate over the RIG-link to discuss the best course of action. Hammond is focussed on seeing the mission through, Kendra just wants to leave, and Isaac is determined to find his girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, the Ishimura’s Senior Medical Officer.
Deciding to prep the Kellion for an emergency departure if it becomes necessary Isaac returns to the vessel in time for it to be destroyed by the creatures, and Johnston is killed.
With their only means to escape the horrors gripping the ship destroyed, Isaac and the survivors must venture deeper into the damaged bowels of the mining ship with the twisted creatures hunting them down at every turn. But the monsters are not the only things to be concerned about because the ship itself is malfunctioning, systems are failing, and some of the crew have survived the slaughter seeing it as a Devine reckoning that they are not going to allow anyone to stop…
The first thing that you need to know about this game is that prior knowledge of the original is 100% not needed because unlike a remastered version of a game (like The Last of Us or the god-awful Grand Theft Auto Trilogy) Dead Space has been rebuilt from the ground up and whilst the gist of proceedings is the same as the original, it does its own thing too. It is like someone recounting to you a story they have been told, they change some details, embellish others, but the bones of the story is the same.
One of the things that the first game suffered from in retrospect when it was compared to Dead Space 2 and Dead Space 3 (henceforth described as DS2 and DS3) was the fact that in the original Isaac was a silent protagonist. It meant that his interactions with Nicole were very odd because this man who has faced hundreds of bloodthirsty twisted monstrosities to find his love views her no differently than he does to a water cooler. But here because Isaac talks and takes his helmet off on occasion the connection between him and Nicole is a lot deeper than it was in the original. In the first game I was not 100% sure if Nicole was Isaac’s girlfriend, his wife, his ex-girlfriend, or ex-wife but here there is no doubt. Isaac and Nicole are a couple that are having some problems in their relationship which stem from the distance they are apart but also from events that have happened which were outside of their control. It makes both of them seem more human and more like flawed people whose relationship has become strained because people make mistakes, they say things they don’t mean, and long-distance relationships are hard to keep going at the best of times. The improvements in the character interactions doesn’t just begin and end with Isaac and Nicole because all of the principal players have been given more depth. A particular highlight is Dr Challus Mercer (voiced by Faran Tahir) who was in the original a stereotypical religious zealot who was clearly mad as a box of frogs, but here he is more insidious, and intelligent. He is actively trying to spread the necromorph infection through various experiments, and his slow manipulations of several characters throughout the story is a far cry from the lunatic he was in the original. I very much don’t want to spoil but I don’t think there is a character that isn’t as good or better than they were in the first game. The villains are not so cartoonish evil in this remake, and the parallels between how the characters are being influenced by the Marker is so subtle most of the time that you won’t even realise it until the game points it out. I know the story of Dead Space inside out and even I was surprised by some of the events that took place and how things change from the original.
A lot of the mechanics from the original games have been moved over and one of the key ones being the Stores which function, as you would probably expect, as location where you can buy ammunition, weapon upgrades, med packs and so on. You can also sell items that you find around the ship as well as put anything into Storage that you don’t currently want in your inventory. Power nodes are the means by which you upgrade both your RIG and weapons, but sadly they are no longer used to access certain rooms. In the original, Power nodes were a scarce item that were expensive to buy from the store, and could be used to not only upgrade weapons but also to gain entry into certain locked rooms. What I liked about this mechanic was that you have to consider whether you wanted to use a precious Power Node on one of these locked off rooms or keep it to use on a weapon or suit upgrade. It added to the stress of the game because once that Power Node was used you weren’t getting it back so you’d agonise over whether to use it or not. In the Remake this is no longer a thing, Power Nodes are used for upgrades and that is it.
Previously the game was very much a level based structure with each section Isaac travels to beginning with him arriving by tram and leaving the same way. This time around the tram system is locked down so you have to walk from section to section before activating the tram station allowing a fast track location to effectively be unlocked. The thing is though that the Ishimura is basically a sandbox now and as the game progresses you are required to travel back through previous locations to get to new areas of the ship. Not all of the ship is accessible from the word go but opens up naturally as Isaac repairs more systems granting him access to new areas. The game features a new Security Override system in which some of the rooms are locked behind Security Levels so you cannot get into those locations until later on when you have unlocked higher Security Clearance. I like this feature because it means that you are going to be coming back through areas you have been through before when searching for secrets or hidden logs or upgrades. The game also features various side quests which grant greater insights to how the crew struggled against the infection which slowly gripped the ship.
On that note, you also encounter dead necromorphs. In the original game any necromorph lying on the deck was always just playing dead waiting for an unsuspecting player to approach, but this time not all of them are faking it. It demonstrates that the crew put up a fight against the twisted monsters because again in the original it did not really make sense that Isaac could take on an army of the creatures single handily whilst the crew were slaughtered so easily.
Similarly to the first game and its sequels Isaac can upgrade his weapons and suit at Benches which are littered around the levels. Power nodes are once again used to upgrade weapons capacity, damage, clip size and so on with his suit (or RIG) as the game calls it more stream-lined in terms of upgrades. There is no separate Stasis section or Kinesis bit. Those are incorporated into the RIG upgrade options. The weapons are also found through exploration so you don’t have to buy everything from the store and can leave weapons in your Storage but are able to upgrade them whenever you are at a Bench
Now as I am writing this I am talking as though you are already familiar with some of the terms I am using but in case you not and this is the first time you are reading one of my articles, then first off, “Hi, good to have you here” and second let me just explain a few of the terms I have been using. The first: Necromorphs is the blanket term used to describe the creatures in the game which are heavily mutated former members of the Ishimura’s crew. You have a Kinesis Module which can be used to move heavy objects but can also fire blades and various poles at enemies. Indeed one of the preferred methods of fighting is to shoot off an enemy’s limb and then pick it up with kinesis and fire it back at them. The final tool in Isaac’s arsenal is Stasis which temporarily slows down objects and enemies which is used in certain puzzles.
This version of Dead Space is not afraid to fix some things which didn’t work hugely well in the original game. The asteroid shooting section or the Slug boss fights were examples of this where the game turned into a shooting gallery for a few minutes. But here both parts have been stripped out and replaced with a far more challenging boss fight in which you have to venture outside the relative safety of the ship to take on tasks in the vacuum of space whilst having to balance fighting with dodging and making sure you have enough oxygen to survive.
On the subject of fixing stuff, the level layout makes more sense here. One of the most infamous parts of the Medical Deck in the original was a platform which needed to be moved so you could walk over it. Fine for a game mechanic but contextually made no sense because it would mean that every time someone wanted to walk along that walkway they’d need to move a platform so they could get to their office or something. Also Isaac being an Engineer is able to rewire different junction boxes to channel power to different location or open doors which helps to immerse you in the fact that Isaac is not a Space Marine or something, he is a guy using improvised mining tool to battle nightmarish creatures that want to slice him apart.
The Zero-G elements have been enhanced with the inclusion of the thrusters seen in DS2 and DS3 so Isaac can freely fly around instead of leaping from surface to surface. This lends itself very well to the asteroid and boss fight sequences which he is in a zero-gravity environment and must avoid incoming attacks and debris.
The graphics make full use of the PS5’s power and whilst my previous experiences with PS5 games did not look overly impressive (Spider-Man Miles Morales leaps to mind), everything looks amazing in the game. The necromorphs have been built on a technique called “Peeling” in which layers of flesh cling to the bones. Dismembering them is still the only way to stop them but the joints are the weakest point so if you open fire at their torso then they aren’t going to really slow down. Target the elbows, knees and shoulders though and you’ll easily slice limbs apart. The flamethrower particularly highlights the details of the peeling effect because using it on an enemy reduces them down to a bloody skeleton. Enemies also don’t de-spawn. I stapled a necromorph to a wall on the Engineering Deck and when I returned to the area later on, it was still there. In the late game they did disappear but there is a reason why rather than just the game cannot remember where they were so removes them from the level.
Finally there is a New Game+ options which I am currently working on. It apparently features an alternate ending which is new for the remake. I was a little disappointed that after working my way through the side missions which gave me a Master Security rank that was not carried over into my New Game so I have to do that side mission again in order to find all the things I missed the first time around.
Honestly though my complaints are very few and far between. A smile was plastered to my face most of the time I was playing and even for a veteran Dead Space player like myself it was still challenging in places. The changes made all work in the game’s favour and I really hope that both DS2 and DS3 get a remake too. It should come as no surprise that my Thumb is strongly up; in fact I am going to give Dead Space my very rare Two Thumbs Up.
9/10 – Not only does the story itself hold up but the overhaul of the graphics, the ship, the mechanics and everything else I have talked about make this a master class in survival horror. If you have played the original then this one will not disappoint, and if you are new to this franchise then you couldn’t ask for a better opening chapter to the Dead Space games.