It has been over 14 years since Visceral Games allowed gamers to embark on the necromorph-infested vessel USG Ishimura for the first time. Many publications and fans have labeled Dead Space one of the greatest horror games of all time, so does this remake by Motive Studios deserve the same accolade? Absolutely, and you can find out why in our Dead Space review.
Admittedly, I am one of the few avid gamers that never got the opportunity to play 2008’s Dead Space or any subsequent games in the series, so I am reviewing this game without the ability to compare it to the original material.
Dead Space – Story
Set 500 years into the future, Dead Space takes place in outer space after a near-extinction-level event has occurred on earth. A mining vessel used to collect resources from other planets, USG Ishimura, has sent out a distress signal during a mission on Aegis VII. Our main protagonist, Isaac Clarke, is aboard the USG Kellion, which is sent to investigate the signal only to find that the Ishimura has been abandoned.
After a series of unfortunate events, Isaac Clarke and his crew must work hastily to repair the vessel while trying to survive the dark and necromorph-infested halls of the USG Ishimura.
I was captivated by the story from the get-go. Investigating the events that occurred on the Ishimura not knowing what was going to happen next kept me invested in the story. The characters I met along the way all somehow made me question how much I could trust them. Nothing was ever predictable throughout the journey except myself needing a few pairs of underwear. Dead Space looks to be inspired by classic horror films such as The Thing and Alien but ultimately forges its own lane in horror story-telling.
Dead Space – Gameplay
The tension created in Dead Space is unparalleled. More often than not you are forced into almost pitch-black rooms with only a flashlight, desperation, and the sounds of hundreds of necromorphs sneaking around in the vents of the Ishimura. I like to think of myself as desensitized to a lot of horror tropes but I still got jump-scared a lot more than I care to admit.
Having played The Callisto Protocol before Dead Space, I was worried about how much I would enjoy the game. The combat in Callisto was not my cup of tea with the inconsistencies of the dodging mechanic and the bland amount of enemy types. Thankfully, Dead Space has some really solid combat with several different guns available for collection throughout the story, each with its pros and cons. You can also melee and stomp but those should only be reserved, as the great assortment of monsters on the Ishimura are largely unaffected by those moves of desperation.
Improvements, Upgrades & Lore
Many gameplay improvements have been added to the remake, but the Peeling System is definitely the standout. Necromorphs have been constructed in a way which allows players to interact with layered flesh, tendons and bones in new ways during combat. It is really gross.
One of the most useful mechanics is the stasis module that Isaac finds early on in the game. It has many uses such as grabbing and throwing objects, slowing down enemies, and solving puzzles. The puzzles were not too difficult to solve but they were interesting enough to be fulfilling.
While investigating the hair-raising halls of the Ishimura, you will find text and audio logs detailing the events that occurred before you arrived. These were really interesting and painted a picture of what life was like before hell broke loose. You can also find items to upgrade your weapons and armour. These upgrades really pack a punch but unfortunately require a few playthroughs in New Game+ if you want to acquire them all.
Shops and work benches are used to purchase upgrades, ammo and health. Save points are found very frequently throughout the ship which was convenient but also slightly diminished how terrified I was. But this is just me nitpicking because there’s not much to criticize about this game.
Dead Space – Audio
Dead Space’s original score by legendary composer Jason Graves (Prey, The Dark Pictures Anthology) is revitalized and expanded upon by Trevor Gureckis (Servant, Old). The tension and immersion created in Dead Space are only possible because of the cohesivity of the score and environments.
The sound design is everything you want in a horror game. The atmospheric audio bites of the USG Ishimura’s deteriorating combined with the distant screams from it’s inhabitants create a harrowing experience. With audio cues, you will always know when an enemy is nearby but this does not dampen the tension.
Graphics and Performance
In modern day remakes, the graphics are usually the most notable difference between new and OG material. Motive Studio have somehow managed to make the dangerous and terrifying locations in the Ishimura gruesome and beautiful at the same time. I first noticed the finer details when I killed my first necromorph and Isaac’s RIG was almost completely covered in shiny, dripping blood. Loading screens have also been left in 2008, with no loading screens in the game to give players a complete immersive experience.
I played Dead Space on PlayStation 5 and visually it looks amazing. There are two graphics modes available: performance and quality. I opted for performance because I value my FPS, and it ran smoothly with no noticeable dips in FPS at all. There were some moments where the graphics looked a bit grainy at times but unintentionally enhanced the ambience of the game.
Recent years have spoiled gamers with exceptional horror game remakes such as The Last of Us Part I and Resident Evil 2 and 3. Dead Space continues this trend by bringing a legendary horror game back onto our screens with an immense amount of polish and craftsmanship. Motive Studio have delivered a terrifying and intense experience that old and new fans alike will be talking about for a long time.