Although 14 years is a considerable amount of time in the video game industry, it doesn’t seem like quite enough time for EA’s Dead Space. By today’s standards, the original 2008 game is a contemporary classic that endures remarkably well.
There isn’t much about its design that feels dated, and the strategic dismemberment that underlies its combat still provides a unique and gory thrill that hasn’t been matched. The improvement in graphical fidelity gives the oppressive horror of the remake new life, but debate in society has focused on whether the remake is necessary.
It may be cynical, but that doesn’t make it any less accurate. Even after watching the end credits myself, I’m not entirely sure it has to, but I’m glad it does. It might not seem particularly necessary to remake Dead Space in 2023. Still, EA Motive managed to create a game that works to improve upon its excellent predecessor in various ways—even if only slightly.
These enhancements start with the story, which has been lengthened due to numerous changes to the characters and storytelling. Starting with your tragic arrival on the USG Ishimura, the fundamental beats that make up the original game’s story are still present. You find the massive planet cracker-class ship floating lifelessly above the planet of Aegis VII after responding to a distress signal.
Once aboard, events take the expected sharp turn for the worse, but now that the previously voiceless protagonist Isaac Clarke has a voice, he can respond appropriately. Although there is always a risk that vocal characters will be excessively chatty, especially in a horror game where the atmosphere and tension are so delicate, I generally don’t like silent protagonists.
Thankfully, that isn’t the case in this situation, and Isaac feels less like a helpless tool that can be used as a pawn. There is a sense of consistency here that is also mirrored in other facets of the design of the remake since actor Gunner Wright returns to the role after playing Isaac in the Dead Space sequels.
Although a large portion of the screenplay had to be changed to account for Isaac’s speech, its story is nonetheless compelling. This time around, especially early on, the church of Unitology—a cultish religious movement that plays a significant role in the Dead Space universe—is much more noticeable.
Characters refer to the notorious church in a way that feels natural, talking about the sect before they realize how significantly it would affect events in the future. The game’s main character and one of Isaac’s coworkers, Kendra Daniels, have also been revised in a way that improves the version.
She used to be prickly and leaned toward some needless antagonistic behavior. Still, she has since changed into a sympathetic character, which pays off later on, more successfully than it did before.
From the frantic rush to the elevator after the initial reveal of the zombie-like Necromorphs to the crucial task of neutralizing every Wheezer tainting the air on the Hydroponics Deck, the vast majority of the remake’s structure is the same as that of the original game. However, there are a few minor level design tweaks here and there and some noticeable gameplay enhancements.
To begin with, rather than rigidly hopping from one surface to another, the zero gravity sequences now allow you to leap from the ground and roam around each region freely using the thrusters on your suit. These sections become much more engaging than they were previously because you can now essentially fly through them.
This is because you must contend with enemies that can attack from any direction and use orientation to solve various puzzles. To allow you more flexibility to explore, some parts, like Ishimura’s hanger, have also been expanded in scope.
Others, like the ADS cannon maintenance task, have undergone a complete makeover to heighten the intensity, changing from a dull turret shooting range to a dangerous spacewalk. This also applies to your battles with The Leviathan. This is a recurring concept throughout the remake of Dead Space 2.
If you’ve played Dead Space 2 before, the freedom of movement in these recreated zero-G areas will feel immediately familiar. Isaac’s collection of mining tools now includes notable improvements introduced in the 2011 sequel. The Plasma Cutter can have a mod attached that enables its ammunition to ignite anything you shoot, delivering searing burn damage over time.
The Disc Ripper can have a mod attached that allows you to utilize ricocheting sawblades to cut through several adversaries. You will be rewarded for thoroughly searching Ishimura’s barren mining vessel because these mods are dispersed throughout it.
However, a new security clearance system initially prevents you from accessing some rooms and lockers. As the story progresses, greater clearance levels eventually become available to you.
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This mechanism seems to have been included to accommodate custom side quests that require you to go back to previously explored regions of the ship. Even though having a cause to return makes opening previously closed doors feel natural and that moving between areas of the boat is now seamless, the side quests don’t offer much in gameplay variety.
These quests essentially boil down to picking up an object or activating a previously recorded message, except for the occasional enemy that appears to present a challenge along familiar routes. However, you can frequently backtrack in relative safety.
If you’re interested in the series’ past, finding out more about what happened aboard the Ishimura before everything went too bad is at least a narrative treat, but it’s a shame these side missions aren’t more involved. The primary fire modes for each weapon have mostly remained the same since the first game, in contrast to the upgrades above.
But some of Isaac’s modified weapons have completely new secondary uses. Previously, the alternative firing of the Pulse Rifle was only really effective when you were entirely encircled by foes, allowing you to hide and wrap yourself in a hail of bullets. Your ammunition suffered greatly as a result, and there were few occasions to use it without feeling like a waste.
Isaac’s Pulse Rifle in the remake now has a proximity mine with a dual purpose that may be used as a trap or a quick grenade launcher. The primary reason for this is that they give an extra layer of strategy to every battle with the ship’s infestation of Necromorphs.
I employed this and the secondary fire modes on other weapons more frequently than in the original Dead Space. Another excellent example is the Flamethrower’s new secondary fire mode, which allows you to unleash a wall of flame that can divide adversaries by cutting them off from one another with a blazing inferno.
The Force Gun, however, is the weapon that sticks out from the rest of the updated arsenal. This mid-game weapon once mainly served as a means of shoving opponents away. It has since been updated to fire a powerful energy blast that rips skin and muscle right off the bone.
It’s a very gory weapon that makes excellent use of the new peeling system introduced in the reboot, which looks exactly as revolting as it sounds. The Ishimura’s suffocatingly gloomy guts are brought to life with an offensive gloss thanks to the remake’s completely reworked visuals, which are superb overall.
It is a famous place for a reason, and the visual makeover and meticulous attention to every last detail make it appear more inhabited than ever.
This is true regardless of the abandoned suitcases strewn throughout the arrival lounge, the claustrophobic crew quarters and the window they provide into the gloomy existence of those working aboard the ship, or the posters for a product referred to as a “carbonated hard bar” that serves as the only source of color in its metal-carved hallways.
One aspect of the remake’s improved graphics fidelity is the peeling mechanism, which has a beautiful effect on each battle encounter. Each subsequent wound ensures that the enemy’s skin, fat, and muscle layers are torn off, exposing the bones, which are then susceptible to being split in half by one or two well-placed rounds.
The green light that runs up Isaac’s suit’s spine is a visual indicator of his well-being and a reminder of the Necromorphs’ bodies. Because Dead Space avoids genre tropes where the headshot is king, the combat still feels slightly new.
Necromorphs can only be killed by cutting off their limbs; thus, utilizing tools like the Plasma Cutter to chop off their legs and then blast away at their lengthened arms as they frantically crawl toward you is still very exciting. The peeling mechanism improves the experience, mainly when using the Force Gun’s secondary firing.
This launches a gravity hole that pulls adversaries in and rips their corpuscles off as they approach. This is ripe for experimentation, just like many of the other fire modes on the weapon. You may set up a trap or use the gravity well to gather a group of adversaries into one area so you can burn them all with a flamethrower or cut through their skeletal remains with a plasma cutter.
Although repetition did creep in over the final few hours of the first Dead Space, despite how amazing it was, the remake’s new strategy and the wide range of tools you can experiment with prevent this from happening again. It’s unrealistic to anticipate that the Dead Space remake will be as revolutionary as the Resident Evil 2 remake.
Due to the way EA Motive has incorporated its innovations into the Dead Space formula, the generational leap isn’t as significant. Many aspects of it feel innately familiar to the 2008 original.
Even though the new side missions may use some improvement, every other new feature helps the remake stay faithful to its predecessor while enhancing it in various ways. Dead Space will be most enjoyable for newcomers and die-hard fans, but this is currently the standard method of playing one of the best survival horror games.
Here are the tweets about the Dead Space remake review:
Glen Schofield (Dead Space) Defeats Glen Schofield (The Callisto Protocol) in Winter 2022-2023 Survival Horror Showdown:https://t.co/ABJWYxdgfX
— Ryan McCaffrey (@DMC_Ryan) January 26, 2023
Dead Space is a superb remake and undoubtedly the definitive way to experience one of the best survival horror shooters that Capcom never made.
— IGN (@IGN) January 26, 2023
Reviews of Dead Space Remake are rolling in – I already completed the game with all achievements and secrets. In my opinion, it is the definitive way to play Dead Space now. It’s incredibly faithful to the original while making tons of quality of life changes. Video on Saturday.
— Jirard The Completionist (@Completionist) January 26, 2023
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