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Dead Space Review – Better Than Ever

Dead Space is a remake of the 2008 classic sci-fi survival horror game that has been rebuilt from the ground up by EA Motive, leveraging the Frostbite game engine. The 2008 original game was one of the most atmospheric, creepy and scary games I had played at that time, and this remake has taken every great thing about the first game and made it better than ever. Still remaining true to the original game’s thrilling vision, the remake offers enhanced audio and crisp, harrowing visuals that have been carefully reimagined to evoke a new level of immersion and quality. Players who have never played the first game, or any game in the Dead Space series are in for a real treat, and veterans of the series will be able to relive those first moments aboard the USG Ishimura where a nightmare awaits.

Isaac Clarke is an everyman engineer on a mission to repair a vast mining ship, the USG Ishimura, only to discover something has gone horribly wrong. The ship’s crew has been slaughtered and Isaac’s beloved partner, Nicole, is lost somewhere on board. Now alone and armed with only his engineering tools and skills, Isaac races to find Nicole as the nightmarish mystery of what happened aboard the Ishimura unravels around him. Trapped with hostile creatures called necromorphs, Isaac faces a battle for survival, not only against the escalating terrors of the ship but against his own crumbling sanity.

Straight away, one of the big differences to the first game is that main character Isaac Clarke is fully voiced by actor Gunner Wright. This was one of the great things going from the original game to Dead Space 2, was that we could finally hear and feel his emotions. Well, we now get this right from the start. Shortly after crash landing, we meet the necromorphs – horrific alien beings that you can’t just simply shoot in the head. These things will keep coming at you and have long sword-like arms, some with projectiles, and even bigger beasts await you in the depths of the Ishimura.

The visual upgrades are noticeable from the opening scenes with lighting and atmosphere effects making characters and environments look lifelike. After not playing a Dead Space game since the third instalment in 10 years, it almost felt like playing Dead Space 4. However, the memories of playing the first game came rushing back to me, intially taking those first scary moments away from me. To EA Motive’s credit, the extra attention and quality of the sounds made it all the creepier, and while I didn’t experience as many jump scares in the first few hours, they certainly got me later on with some redesigned encounters.

They have also redesigned the flesh of the necromorphs with a ‘peeling system’. As you shoot a necromorph, it’s skin, flesh and limbs will get damaged spraying you with blood and gore, so it’s quite more detailed in that regard. There is an option in the game’s accessibility menu to give you a warning when something graphic is about to happen as there are some disturbing scenes, though while it will visually cover what’s happening, audio will still play behind it.

Another change that I loved was how you are able to move in zero gravity. In the original game, you had to jump from one point to another wall or floor/ceiling, land and turn to jump to the next surface area. It was quite restrictive, but they had designed cover and other obstacles to know where you were headed. Now zero-g is free flowing movement like in Dead Space 2 and 3, so you are free to float around the area and move where you want to. This made the asteroid sequence so much more engaging and thrilling to complete.

Boxes and doors now have a security clearance requirement to access, so as you progress the story your security level will slowly increase. This means, as you move amongst the various levels of the ship, going back to a previously cleared area means there are always other things to look for or go back to, like locked storage rooms and such when you find yourself desperately low on ammunition or upgrade nodes. One thing I struggled with was finding enough ammo for the four weapons I had equipped. I had more weapons in my inventory, and ammo that was dropping was more for the weapons in my pack than my active ones, making the game extremely difficult. To avoid my mistakes, you should store any inactive weapons in your stash when you get a shop. This way, any ammo that drops is guaranteed to be one for your four active weapons.

Upgrading Clarke’s suit and weapons has been overhauled, and now there are nodes that can be unlocked that add some special weapon abilities if you have found the specific schematic. All of this makes exploring every room, hallway, nook and cranny worth doing, and while we can press ‘x’ to highlight the direction to the quest location, it is well worth taking the time to explore – just beware those damn necromorphs lurking in dark corners. I got stuck a couple of times on some puzzles, so I looked up some YouTube videos of the original game and it is a huge noticeable difference in graphics quality of everything we see in-game. This is definitely a visual treat.

Upon completing the game, EA Motive has given us a new game+ mode which I haven’t attempted yet. Players will have access to everything they unlocked during their first playthrough, but they can only be retrieved from the first in-game store you come across (which is where you purchase ammo, medkits and so on). In the new game+ mode you will be able to obtain a level 6 suit which we have never seen before, there are new phantom variant necromorphs which sound horrifying as well as a new secret ending which I am excited to witness. Best to steer clear of YouTube until you find it yourself.

Overall, this Dead Space remake has been an awesome experience returning to memories of the original while playing what feels like Dead Space 4. The graphical and audio upgrades are outstanding, and the gameplay mechanism updates make replaying the game feel fresh again. New players to the Dead Space series are in for a real treat.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by EA Australia and Dead Space will launch on January 28 for us Aussies on PC, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.


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