Dead Space Review: Survival Horror Reborn

Ali Hasan February 6, 2023

Dead Space Review: Survival Horror Reborn

Remaking a beloved game can be a monumental and delicate task. On the one hand, you have to preserve the essence of the original so that the remake doesn’t stray too far from the heart of the original but on the other hand there needs to be enough innovation and just the right amount of change to justify the remake’s existence. Going into the Dead Space remake I was unsure whether the original even needed a remake because all things considered the original game holds up surprisingly well, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the team at EA Motive not only preserved the essence of the original but also justified the need for a remake.

Dead Space is an excellent case study of how games should be remade. EA Motive has successfully brought the horror classic back to its former glory by delivering top-notch visuals and improvements across the board. The remake also introduces several changes both narratively, mechanically, and gameplay-wise that just make sense and accentuate the already excellent source material. Dead Space is a remake that’s not only important but one that is absolutely necessary as well.

The USG Ishimura Has Been Completely Rebuilt

Dead Space Remake

People who have experienced the original are all too familiar with the wonderfully grotesque and downright eerie corridors of the USG Ishimura, the ill-fated spacecraft where Dead Space takes place. The remake leverages next-gen technology to deliver a more detailed and scarier version of the original. The walls are now covered with repulsive growths originating from the Necromorph outbreak and blood splatters and grime that add a level of believability not present in the original. The use of dynamic events throws random Necromorph encounters at you and works to keep you on your feet. The enhanced lighting also works wonderfully to add to the overall atmosphere of the game, adding a thicker and more visceral feel to the environment.

The lighting also does well to highlight the details of the rebuilt USG Ishimura while also shrouding many corners in darkness keeping you on your feet as you consider what might be lurking in the shadows, I found this further enhanced the feeling of dread and fear as you navigate around the ship which has now been completely rebuilt for a more seamless experience, in addition to being completely restructured. Gone are the loading screens between different levels of the ship which have now been replaced with a God of War style seamless no-cut camera setup.

Isaac Clarke Finally Has a Voice

dead space remake

The seamless transition between different levels of the ships is probably one of the best additions to the game, coupled with the integrated HUD it further works to enhance the immersion already inherently through the excellent game design. It also encourages backtracking to unlock upgrades through previously locked doors as Isaac garners increasing security clearances. Protagonist Isaac Clarke has been given the Fallout 4 treatment in the remake in that he finally has a voice.

Gunner Wright from Dead Space 2 and 3 returns to voice our protagonist who has a more central role in the entire story now. Isaac is now at the forefront of every major story beat, moving away from the original’s rather bizarre choice of having him be a silent protagonist. He doesn’t speak too much, mind you, but in scenes where his input and views are required, it works extremely well and is a welcome change from the original. Isaac in general is just a much more fleshed-out character now, portraying emotions and feelings that weren’t present in the original.

The World and Characters are a Lot More Fleshed Out

dead space remake

In addition to fleshing out Isaac, the Dead Space remake also expertly fleshes out its world as well. There are new holographic scenes and side quests with Isaac’s wife, Nicole that detail her previous whereabouts and the resulting effects that took place before and after the Necromorph breakout occurred. There are also new audio logs present throughout the world that you can pick up and listen to, which go into detail about the couple’s relationship.

The game also delves into Isaac’s past by having more exposition for the Church of Unitology. There are several world-building pieces in play here and I found that it helped me better understand Isaac as a character and allowed me to form a deeper bond with him throughout the roughly 13-hour campaign than the original ever allowed for.

The Combat Benefits The Most in The Remake

dead space remake

The place where the remake shines the most however is in its combat. The original’s combat was revolutionary, moving away from the then-conventional shooting mechanics of survival horror games, which had you dumping bullets into your enemies’ heads until they went down. Dead Space introduced limb damage which made each and every encounter unique, grotesque, and more believable. The remake essentially takes the combat of the original and dials it up to 11. The new layer mechanic allows you to blast through the Necromorphs more realistically while also allowing you to clearly see layers of their bones, tissues, and flesh strip away the more you shoot them, this also works as an excellent indicator to tell you how close you are to tear off a limb.

It’s grotesque and borderline disgusting at times but it’s so well made and only works to accentuate the overall visual fidelity on display. The AI across the board is much improved too, with slashers still coming towards you even after you’ve chopped off a few of their limbs, while the twitchers seemed twitchier than they were in the original. The combat is really quite riveting and visceral and in my opinion, is the facet that benefits the most from the increased level of detail. The remake also introduces several new throwable objects into the mix, allowing for more variety and creativity in how you approach your combat encounters.

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Weapon and Suit Upgrades Allow for New Ways to Play

dead space remake

The Dead Space remake introduces weapon upgrades as well as RIG suit upgrades allowing you to kit out and tune your weapons and your suit as you progress through the game. The right upgrade can get you out of hairy situations and work well to ease the overall experience. I found myself upgrading the suit health the most although there are upgrades that are equally as important or useful like the Kinesis grab range which can help you pull in objects from much farther out.

The plasma cutter still remains the best weapon in the game by far and makes for the most grotesque Necromorph takedowns but the weapon upgrades make all other weapons a lot more viable than they were in the original, the ripper can now be upgraded to allow its blades to ricochet off walls, while the plasma cutter can be upgraded to induce fire damage. Several weapons also have alt-fire modes now. Weapons have upgrades ranging from damage increases to cooldown compensators, and more. It really just boils down to the types of weapons you use and your personal playstyle, in saying that, however, it is well worth upgrading every weapon. Completely upgrading a weapon allows you to further enhance each firearm.

The Dead Space Remake Makes Some Tasteful And Much-Needed Changes

dead space remake

Taking creative liberty where necessary is key to delivering a good remake, and the Dead Space remake does this in droves, whether that’s the combat, world-building, or environments the team has gone in and made several changes that work to enhance the game, one of the areas where they’re most needed and the implementation I was most worried about was changing out/and or removing entire sections of the game.

It was nice to see, however, that the remake does this very tastefully. Some sequences, now that I look back on the original Dead Space simply do not hold up well to today’s standards. A prime example of this is the turret shooting sections in the original which were monotonous, boring, and sometimes just downright unfair and hard.

These have been scrapped in the remake and have been replaced by more interactive and intuitive gameplay sections, which not only serve the story but also add some much-needed variety to the game. The anti-gravity controls have been much improved as well, allowing for easier maneuverability and greater control over Isaac. The game also retains the original ending but adds an alternative one accessible through NewGame+, again a change that would have most fans concerned but it’s done so well and keeps with the essence and tone of the original.

Verdict

The dead space remake is a masterclass in how remakes should be handled. EA motive has successfully brought the classic survival horror game to the modern era with improvements and enhancements across the board while also retaining everything that made the original so great and memorable.  

dead space remake verdict

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Categories : Reviews