Cut Off Their Limbs… and use them to impale
A Review of the Dead Space Remake
Let’s be honest, we all thought this franchise was dead and dismembered. After EA decided the best way to improve a horror focused action game was to add co-op and let you spend real world money on guns (both things completely ruined any semblance of tension), predictably Dead Space 3 commercially flopped. To make matters worse, EA shut down the studio in charge of the IP after their direct act of sabotage. I won’t lie to you; I never played the original. I was under the false impression that this was a survival horror game where the player is mostly helpless, extremely low on resources, and encouraged to use stealth tactics to survive. After seeing a few trailers for the remake, my curiosity got the better of me.
*Tech Disclaimer* Xbox Series X on performance mode hooked up to an LG CX
*Played on Medium Difficulty*
The game starts off with an un-skippable 5 minute cinematic, not my favorite but I understand that we need to do some world building. You play as Isaac, some kind of engineer assigned to fix the USG Ishimura, a massive “planet cracking” ship that your wife happens to be stationed on. As is typical with horror games, something immediately goes terribly wrong and all Hell breaks loose. You run for your life, the only time you are encouraged to do so, and then the game properly begins.
Isaac isn’t a soldier, so he relies almost entirely on tools to deal with the necromorphs. Oh right, necromorphs are the former human alien abominations you battle in Dead Space. They’re appropriately disgusting and dangerous. Isaac also isn’t particularly fleet-a-foot, which in combination with not being a weapons expert gives Dead Space a certain tension that I haven’t experienced in other games. It is dark, you are too slow to run away, and you don’t have the Doom Slayer’s arsenal but you are far from helpless once you get the hang of Dead Space’s combat.
The best way to deal with the necromorphs is to cut off their limbs, slowing them down and making them less effective in their attacks against you. Once you have removed a few limbs, they die presumably from alien goo loss? Doesn’t matter, it makes for an extremely satisfying and efficient way to play alien exterminator. You can always just shoot them until they die, but you will burn a lot of ammo and won’t make it too far if this is your primary strategy. I previously said you don’t have extremely low resources, but you aren’t carrying a magic bandolier either. This means that you will need to be efficient and use all the tools at your disposal to deal with the alien threats. You have a plasma cutter, pulse rifle, flame thrower, ripper (futuristic chainsaw), force gun, line gun, and my personal favorite contact beam. Fitting the theme of Isaac being an engineer, each weapon has its own unique uses (primary or secondary fire) and best scenario to use them. There is a lot of room for creativity which is amplified by your two suit abilities, stasis and kinesis. One freezes enemies in place, the other allows you to lift and throw objects without touching them. When I started, I primarily used the plasma cutter to sever limbs and the ripper to finish off enemies when they got too close. By the end of it, I was using the plasma cutter to sever limbs, kinesis to impale them with their own limbs, force gun to blast enemies away from me then suck them into a vortex before igniting them all with the flame thrower, using stasis to stop enemies in their tracks allowing me to regroup and set traps with the line gun, and then unleashing the contact beam when everything motherf***er in front of me just had to die. Once you get the hang of it, combat in Dead Space is an absolute blast.
Dead Space is a horror game, but it accomplishes this mostly through tension. Yes, the aliens are scary looking and there is an absurd amount of gore, but that’s not what makes the horror work. Often, the USG Ishimura is dark, so you must use your weapon mounted flashlight. While there is no battery life to deal with and you can fire with it, looking at you Doom 3, you cannot see your entire surroundings. While you scan the area for threats, necromorphs can easily sneak up behind you as you do so. This means, you have to rely on sound to know where threats are coming from. Smartly, not every creepy noise is accompanied by a threat, but you will never not investigate an unexpected clank or scream. You will find yourself breaking vents to prevent an ambush before it happens, even though it rarely (if ever) works. Infrequent, but effective jump scares are mixed in to prevent you from getting too comfortable. Lastly, Dead Space has effective horror because Isaac isn’t an action hero. He is too slow to run away from the necromorphs, meaning you are always on high alert. Running away, even to reposition to a more advantageous spot, is difficult. You must always be ready, so you can forget about carelessly traversing anywhere.
Lastly, we get to the story. I’ll do my best to avoid spoiling it, but I will summarize. You get to ship, aliens have already taken over, you must fix ship to escape while trying to save your wife. On the way, you discover that a zealous wing of some religion took over the ship before embarking on its planet cracking journey and recovered an artifact known as the marker. The ship is very broken, so there is a lot to fix and a lot of WTF happened to unravel. There’s lot monsters and a failed “rescue” attempt and that’s all I’m giving you because anything else would be a spoiler. It isn’t Shakespeare but it certainly does the job for a tension filled horror shooter.
I won’t beat around it anymore, The Dead Space Remake kicks all kinds of ass. The combat is great, the horror and tension are effective for 2/3 of the game, and the last 3rd is pure intensity. It is an excellent graphical showcase for next generation hardware or a decent gaming PC. It probably takes 12-14 hours for a first time play through, and there is a new game plus mode to dive into after. There is even an achievement locked behind beating the game using only the plasma cutter. There is plenty to do and it is more than entertaining. Solid 9 from Brendawn, this is a must play. Now go cut off their limbs… make us whole again…