March 5th, 2013 marked one full month since the release of Visceral Games notorious survival horror space thriller Dead Space 3. This date was also important because rumors had been swirling throughout the day that EA was considering canceling the series due to poor financial sales. After several sources close to EA denied these claims over and over again, I started to think specifically about several shortcomings I experienced with the game in regards to how the finished product turned out. In this article, I take things a bit further by elaborating on why I feel this is the most disappointing entry in the franchise yet. So without further ado, I now present to you my four concrete reasons why Dead Space 3 is the worst sequel in the series.
When Visceral Games started developing Dead Space 3, EA had a vision of adding co-operative play to keep the series fresh and exciting. Some fans welcomed this change with open arms while others immediately dismissed the notion. The idea of adding a supporting character the likes of John Carter seemed like an interesting concept at the time, but the end result is anything but exciting because of two important miscues. For starters, Carter isn’t particularly a likable character to begin with and his commentary throughout can easily annoy players at any given time. While the hallucinations that he suffers do add a deeper layer to his personality, this dynamic is never fully fleshed out and thus the character remains a mystery to most players.
Secondly, those who choose to playthrough the single player campaign will notice that the game was designed specifically for co-operative play. Many times you will encounter puzzles and obstacles that still have an added element built into them that suggests you should be playing with a friend. Would it have been too much to take some of these elements out the game to change up the core experience for single players? Leaving this in only signals to me that the team was lazy in regards to their execution and that this game was never intended to be played alone in the first place.
When Dead Space 2 hit stores way back in January of 2011, EA ran a clever marketing campaign centered on Mom’s watching and hating on Dead Space 2. The idea was smart because it played off of the notion that typically mothers don’t like their kids playing video games. If you’ve never got a chance to see the ad, then please feel free to have a look at it below.
When fast-forwarding to the marketing campaign for Dead Space 3, you’ll notice right away that things are different. We see a glimpse of a live-action Isaac coming face-to-face with a Necromorph ship and that’s about it. Beyond this, there is no elaborate concept being communicated to consumers except for a Phil Collins song to set the tone. This trailer can be seen below in all its glory.
While many may argue that critiquing how a game is marketed is a weak argument on what makes a game bad, I would care to respectfully disagree on the matter. The whole point of marketing the game is to sell consumers on why they need to purchase the title. In the case of Dead Space 2, the team used a creative way to attract gamers to the product. In the case of Dead Space 3, the main message here is buy the game and finally put an end to the necromorphs. While I’m okay with the message, I still believe the ad could have been made ten times better than it currently is now.
The single biggest culprit of Dead Space 3 lies in its inability to tell a sensible and rewarding story. The supporting cast of characters are all bland and their stereotypical characteristics do very little to explain them further. Once an individual meets his or her inevitable death you care very little about it and instead are just glad they are no longer a part of the experience. The perfect example to illustrate this point lies in the game’s main human antagonist who dies before you even get a chance to confront him. In my opinion, this is a waste of a character and I question Visceral’s logic for even including him in the game to begin with.
In terms of the cliché love story between Isaac and Ellie, the on-again, off-again romance is easily the most boring and predictable part of the game. Everyone is aware that sooner or later they will be reunited and therefore the viewer is left with little to no suspense. Throughout the whole ordeal, Isaac is reduced to nothing more than a whiny bitch that should be taken out of his misery. Once both lovers are separated at the end, you already know that this story will be picking up again in Dead Space 4. Of course, everyone will have their own opinion on the story but I think many will also agree that this narrative was far from perfect.
The final and most disappointing aspect about Dead Space 3 is the simple fact that the retail game by itself simply isn’t scary. The Awakened DLC does a far better job of conveying horror but I'm puzzled why this is DLC and not part of the original game. When it comes to the survival horror genre, many studios have taken the approach of creating a much more action-oriented video game as opposed to one that actually terrifies the audience. While games like Resident Evil 6 used this same formula, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us successfully reinvents what a survival horror is meant to be in more ways than one.
In addition to not being scary, Dead Space 3 is also predictable when it comes to enemy encounters. Walking into a cave and having creatures ascend from the snowy grounds gets tiresome and expected all too often. Another annoyingly repetitive sequence involved a friend and I walking into a room where vents were blocked off before enemies started surrounding us. All of these points make up the framework of a stale survival horror game and by standards the Dead Space franchise deserves better.
This concludes my list on why Dead Space 3 is the worst sequel in the series. If EA and Visceral Games do decide to make a Dead Space 4, it would be in their best interest to address the issues I listed above to keep the series fresh and engaging. Do you agree or disagree with my points? Do you have any other complaints in mind about the game that you feel I've missed? Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.