The date was October 14, 2008. I along with my cousin were camping out in front of a GameStop for the midnight launch of a game that was believed to be the evolution of horror video games. This game was Dead Space, and if you were a gamer at this time then you know the hype in anticipation for this game was through the roof across all gaming media outlets. Those who previewed the game said it was scarier than Resident Evil and would instantly get your heart pounding & palms sweating.
Thankfully the hype was real and Dead Space is easily regarded as one of the best horror games ever made. So, when EA announced they were working on a Dead Space remake, fans of the franchise were divided. One side believes the original is a masterpiece and should not be altered. The other side however was open to seeing a modernized upgrade, as long as it didn’t deviate too far from its original design. So, were EA developer Motive Studio (devs on Star Wars Battlefront 2) able to appease both sides? The answer is a resounding YES!!!
The story of Dead Space takes place in the year 2508. A massive planet mining ship named USG Ishimura has sent out a distress beacon. Engineer Isaac Clarke (the main protagonist) and his team respond quickly to the distress call mainly because Issacs’s wife is a doctor on that ship. Isaac Clarke is the most noticeable change in the remake since he now has a voice, and not just any voice, actor Gunner Wright who voiced Isaac Clarke in Dead Space 2 and 3.
This change raised some alarms in the fan base with the concern that Isaac’s new dialogue may hinder the story or make him a “chatterbox” constantly talking to his team via coms. Rest assured, there is no need for concern, the dialogue is fitting and fluid with the rest of the team which has all been re-cast along with updated dialogue. Their ship begins to malfunction which leads to the ship crashing down hard in the docking bay…and then the nightmare for the crew begins.
Dead Space remake is visually spine-chilling. Every inch of the original has been upgraded not to just 4k textures but to an absurd amount of detail. For example, Isaac’s iconic CEC engineer suit looks like a suit of armor with a metal chest plate and shoulder pads. The spinal life bar now looks to be encased in a tube instead of just light indicators in the original. The same applies to the helmet which again looks like a cross between a medieval knight/steampunk / badass space monster bounty hunter.
The corridors, rooms, and other locations have all been re-designed as well. Some rooms are larger with more space for movement while new corridors will lead to additional elevators or stairwells that aren’t in the original. These changes add to the exploration and if traveled can reward you by finding additional supplies and credits to purchase necessary items (All in-game currency).
If you played the original or its sequels then you know about the tram system which can be used to quickly travel between key locations. However, now with the additional before-mentioned paths you can reach all locations via those paths. I recall in chapter 4 I was wandering around and came across a tram stop which was for that location. I had unknowingly completely bypassed it to reach this area.
Aside from the creepy environments, stunning graphics, lighting and hair-raising ambient sounds the shining star is the gameplay. Who can forget the awesome floor navigation system. Simply press (R3) and Isaac will display a navigation light path to the main objective. I loved this navi-system as it removed the need to bring up a map which is common for games such as this. This in turn keeps you playing in game with less trips to the inventory screen.
While on the topic of immersion, Dead Space is fully done in one camera take, think God of War 2016 or the film 1917. No camera cuts and smooth transitions is how Dead Space sinks its teeth in you and never let’s go. On that note, let’s talk about the Necromorphs. I’m avoiding key plot spoilers but hinted in the trailers you can understand that something has infected the inhabitants of the USG Ishimura and this is evident by the remaining bits of clothing seen on the Necromorphs.
This is another fantastic level of detail not present in the original. The first weapon you obtain is the beloved plasma cutter. Pressing (RB) will rotate its aim from vertical to horizontal, and why should that matter you ask? Well to better dissect the hordes of Necromorphs of course!
Combining the plasma cutter with the stasis ability (also obtained early on) can produce some rather memorable moments. Simply point your plasmas cutter at your target, press (Y) and your foe will begin to move in a slo-mo state. This will give you plenty of time to cut off its arms, legs and head one piece at a time.
Not sure if you have enough rounds and have a few Necromorphs running toward you? Stasis the ones in the back, plasma cut their legs off, and then deal with the foes close to you with melee attacks or regular plasma rounds. While the back-end Necromorphs are crawling you can press the right trigger to stomp on their heads. It’s all pretty gruesome & gory but never gets old. Now, this method won’t work for all variants however there are similar strategies that can be performed with other weapons.
Along the journey, you will find more weapons, ammo, med kits, schematics to craft large supplies such as a medium or large med hit, and the all-important nodes. These nodes can be used at workbenches to upgrade your weapon and suit.
I highly recommend exploring every area before moving on as a node can be found off the main path and who doesn’t want to extend their weapon mag or increase reload speed?
Dead Space remake is exactly how you improve on a beloved classic without implanting too many modernizations. It’s evident that developers at Motive Studio like us, love Dead Space and they took the utmost care in preserving everything that made the original great and in turn created the definitive Dead Space experience.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Dead Space Remake for Xbox Series X provided by Motive Studios and Electronic Arts.