Dead Space – High Definition Scares

Dead Space - High Definition Scares

There seems to be two types of remakes that exist in the world of games. The first takes the original title and bends it in a new direction while trying to maintain what people loved about it in the first place. Think the Final Fantasy VII Remake. The second takes the original game and tries to alter it as little as possible while making it as pretty as possible. Dead Space is undoubtedly in that second category. Very little has changed in the world of Dead Space outside of the visuals and audio but when it is this good, it probably doesn’t need too. 

For those that missed the original release, Dead Space is a space horror that, I feel, really moves the genre forward in interesting and exciting ways. It tells the tale of Isaac Clarke, a space engineer sent out to the USS Ishimura as a part of a repair crew. Isaac sees it as a win, his better half is already on the Ishimura so he figures a quick patch-up job on the ship and then some quality time with the love of his life. Of course, things go to hell almost immediately with the crew being attacked by strange creatures that would love nothing more than to stick their dagger-like limbs through Isaac’s sternum. From there it is a tense tale of occults, mind-altering markers and government conspiracy that is just as entertaining now as it was in 2008. 

Dead Space wears its inspirations on its sleeve. From Alien to System Shock, you can feel the games and movies that came before, the titles that helped guide the developers in creating this tense horror experience. The game’s structure actually plays a lot of the same beats as an Alien film, with a slower tense start building to a more action-focused and edge-of-your-seat finale. It is a formula that works with great effect here and makes the entire 11-ish hour game addictive. You just have to know what is going to happen next despite knowing that it is probably going to scare the pants off you. 

Graphically this new Dead Space is gorgeous, in a gross and gory kind of way. The enemies, who were always scary, seem to now drip with malice. The ship feels even more like a living breathing character thanks to the additional detail and the character models for Isaac and the other crew members are stunning. I was playing on a high-end PC and honestly, this is right up there with the best graphics games have to offer, especially in terms of using graphics to create mood and tension. The way lights flicker, slight movement catches the edge of the player’s vision, the slight undulating of alien growth, it all ratchets up that tension to the next level. 

While we are talking about looks I can’t miss one of the most impressive things Dead Space has brought to games and that is the UI. A breakthrough when it was originally released, the fabled Dead Space UI is back and is as fantastic as ever. There are no maps, health bars or ammo counters on the screen. All of that information can be found on Isaac’s suit. It means that players have access to all the information they need to play the game without breaking the immersion by having random numbers and bars in the corner of the screen. Even the way the game loads up leans into this. The game literally boots into where you left off, not bothering with a main menu as such, just taking you straight to your last save. One button press and you are instantly back in the action. It really is the benchmark for an immersive UI and I just can’t understand why more games haven’t copied this approach because it really is wonderful. 

Sound is another area that has seen some wonderful and expected improvements. Make sure you are playing this one with a good 5.1 setup or headset if you can folks because, if your heart can handle it, you are in for a treat. The way sound plays with your fears is almost perfect. That slightest scuttle, the clang of metal falling, the rush of air through a corridor. All of it shows just how much every element of this game is used to ramp up a sense of dread, a feeling of being wound so tight you could burst. I will make mention how every appliance, utility and mechanical component on the USS Ishimura sounds like a monster is going to attack you. I am serious, even the shower turning on made me jump because I thought it was a Necromorph coming to get me. 

Perhaps the only slight disappointment I have here is that this really is, in most ways, the same game I played in 2008. There has been very little done to the game from a gameplay or level design perspective and that is perhaps a missed opportunity. I feel there is room to take a few divergent paths, a couple of twists that fans wouldn’t see coming to perhaps add a little more reinvigoration to the franchise. There is apparently a secret ending to the game, but I am not sure how to access it (my guess is something like finishing it on the hardest difficulty,) the ending I saw was beat-for-beat the same as the original game with just the slightest change at the very end. It is, however, hard to be too critical of a failure to include new things. Fans are hard to please at times so sticking with the safe route was probably wise. Also when the source still holds up nearly 15 years later, well let’s just say it is probably wise to not mess with what works. 

With the Dead Space remake, we have a very faithful and utterly stunning recreation of the original genre-leading masterpiece. Little has changed apart from presentation aspects and while some may feel that is a missed opportunity, I am more than happy to re-experience this classic title as it is. Dead Space was a watershed moment in horror gaming and considering how little it has changed for this remake and how remarkably well it still plays shows just how amazing the original release was. Dead Space is a safe remake but an enjoyably tense and entertaining one nonetheless. It is my greatest hope that this does exceptionally well, because as good as they were, both Dead Space 2 and 3 could probably benefit from the tweaking a remake could bring more than the first game did. Regardless, Dead Space was always and still is a fantastic horror experience, don’t let it pass you by. 

Dead Space was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by EA Australia. 

Have you seen our Merch Store?

Check out our Most Recent Video

Find us on Metacritic

Check out our Most Recent Posts