Looking for a comprehensive Dead Space (2023) Review? We’ve got you covered! Alone in Space, an alien threat, and a mystery to what happened to the USG Ishimura. Reenter the nightmare spawned by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey back in 2008 reimagined by EA Motive for a new generation to know fear.
Developed by EA’s Motive Studio and published by Electronic Arts this new take on a game that defined Horror for a generation of gamers has been given new life. Released in 2023, visually it is an incredible take on what was one of the scariest games available in 2008. Built on EA’s in-house engine, The Frostbite Games Engine, developed by DICE, it adds a fantastic uneasy atmosphere to the game.
Once more take control of Systems Engineer Isaac Clarke, in a remake of his original outing. Sent to investigate the USG Ishimura’s distress signal, however, not all is as it seems and the crew of the Ishimura have a darker secret to hide. The opening of the game still shows off the game in one of the best ways as the USG Kellion approaches this monstrous craft lying dormant above the planet.
Anyone who has played Dead Space before will know how Iconic a sequence the approach to the Ishimura is and EA Motive do an incredible job of recreating the feel of this.
It seems a little pointless to point out the story of the game as most people will know the story of Dead Space since it was released in 2008, however since this is such an interesting take on the game we feel a necessary thing to do, at least to some degree.
The premise of the game is the biggest mining vessel, known as a planet cracker, has sent out a distress call and a team is sent to investigate what has happened. Upon arrival, the crew of the USG Kellion find that the craft is dark and not even running lights are operational. Crashlanding in the hanger bay the team leader, and security officer Zach Hammond decides to take most of the members to investigate. The crew is comprised of:
- Computer Specialist Kendra Daniels
- Co-Pilot and Security Personnel Cpl Aiden Chen
- Co-Pilot and Security Personnel Cpl Hailey Johnston
- Engineer Isaac Clarke
It would be an understatement to say that everyone makes it through the game with scrapes and bruises, this is a horror game after all and if you have played the original you will know roughly what is going on. That being said the game’s core story is slightly altered from the original in a good few ways.
The first and most important one is Isaac’s “illness” which is highlighted in the Second installment of the franchise as a form of dementia, which is caused by his encounter with the artifact known as the Red Marker. In the original Dead Space, this Red Marker is found on Aegis VII by the crew of the USG Ishimura and taken aboard the ship, thus causing the outbreak of the Necromorphs. By the end of the game, Isaac leaves the Red Marker on Aegis VII and puts an end to the Hive Mind, which “could” be what the Moons are in Dead Space 3’s conclusion. The point we are highlighting here is in the original Isaac wasn’t affected by the marker that much, in the remake it seems that there are times when his illness is taking hold. Although this is controlled by the Intensity Director (Refer to Graphics, Gameplay, and Mechanics for information), this is reminiscent of the way Isaac is in Dead Space 2 and 3.
The second is that Convergence, the action of “Becoming Whole”, is introduced in the remake, hinting at the events later to come in the franchise when Danik initiates it on Tau Volantis during the conclusion of Dead Space 3, isn’t the first of these events. Now the author can’t recall if something like convergence was introduced this early in the franchise, but we feel it was introduced in Dead Space 2, at its earliest.
Graphics, Gameplay, and Mechanics:
One of the biggest and most impressive things is the overhaul to the game as a whole, honestly, I would have been happy without a story, the Ishimura is beautiful and has an immense sense of depth it’s unreal that you are on the same ship from 2008 sometimes. That being said there are some aspects of the game that I personally feel was lost in the Remake. The biggest, for me, is I don’t feel the same fear that the 2008 release instilled. There are still unsettling sequences where you are unsure if something will jump you or if you will make it through a situation but the terror that could be felt with the original didn’t feel like it made it back. It could be that knowing what to expect from the original dulls the senses to the terror, to combat this I even started the game with Impossible difficulty and used only the Plasma cutter but it was still not the same.
If you ever had an annoying time seeing the tram loading or waiting to load back in after death, wait no longer as the Dead Space Remake has effectively eliminated this. Thanks to the powerful SSD hard drive inside the PS5 and X-Box Series the game’s load times are remarkably fast and response times are almost robotic. Let’s face it Response times would be faster without a human but where is the fun in that? Going from aiming to shooting or an intense battle sequence it feels like you are constantly in control of the action and Isaac reacts almost the second the input is activated. This makes immersion unbroken as the player can feel like they are Isaac, why you would want to think you were is unknown.
Adding to this are the fluid systems where you can easily revisit areas of the Ishimura, as seen in the Tram Travel system below. However you could manually walk around the ship if you have the clearance, and some areas connect together, for instance, Cargo to Engineering, or Bridge to Crew.
One of the worse things, in this author’s opinion, is the addition of Isaac’s voice actor. Now, having him silent in the original game was unnerving and kept the player on the edge which was interesting and played a part in the horror mechanic. With the remake, Gunner Wright returns to voice Isaac, as he did in the second and third releases of the franchise. With this addition, new aspects of the game were made, after all with Isaac now talking throughout the game new lines were added to other characters and there are parts where Isaac will remark throughout the game on certain things. Personally, I didn’t like this as it felt like Isaac had lost something critical to his design. In some of the early game sequences, he seems way too calm for the situation compared to what he should be like. This is probably only this author’s feelings on the matter but this single aspect was better in the original.
In addition to this is the “new” look of protagonist Isaac Clarke, however, all characters have been given a makeover as you might expect. Where this isn’t exactly a surprise and all be it little, Isaac’s looks kinda detract from the look of the game when he hasn’t got the helmet on. There Thankfully aren’t that many sequences when he is helmetless, however other characters like Nicole, Daniels, and Hammond have had more depth added and after seeing them in the original so much, it’s difficult to see them in the remake.
Now this is all well and good but there is something else that I would like to draw attention to about the look of the characters, which is Isaac now removing his helmet at certain points of the story. If you are familiar with Dead Space, Isaac isn’t seen without his helmet on during gameplay in the original. The only times in the original he has his head exposed is in the opening when he is making his way to the Ishimura and in the end sequence when his illness attacks him. In the remake, he removes his helmet and tucks it under his arm in a few sequences, which naturally leaves him open to attack. The original had the better idea as without a voice and constantly keeping the helmet on, the player was always on edge waiting for the attacks and keeping the horror theme of the game flowing.
One of the best improvements in our opinion is the Zero-G sequences. In the original, they didn’t feel quite right, with both controls and appearance, in essence, they were a point-to-point jump. This isn’t what I think when I hear Zero Gravity, and let’s face it, if there is limited or no gravity a player has to actually mess around, that’s just human nature. With the update of the remade and reimagined game, however, these sequences have been made more fluid and exciting like Dead Space 2 does.
Another of the best improvements is the Weapons. Where they used to be a tool to slay undead monsters, now they have unique purposes. Examples can be seen in the way they work. Necro’s will have different damage modifications applied to them based on the damage type they take, meaning depending on the weapon you use on them they will be attacked differently. Utilising the Plasma Cutter is alright but the game is packed with weapons that could be used and all do different damage to the enemies. Where the Plasma Cutter is a class of damage we are calling “Breaking“, meaning it will literally fracture limbs and break bone severing them to limit Necro mobility, a Pulse Rifle is what we are calling “Tear“, which will cut through Necro flesh exposing bone. Where the Plasma Cutter can do the job of the Pulse Rifle it is better severing Limbs.
One aspect of the Remake that we would like to direct attention to is the Intensity Director. Putting it in its simplest form it is a randomisation generator. Take for instance you were backtracking to areas you had previously completed in an earlier chapter, in the original game you would be “Safe” (relatively of course). However, in the remake, this aspect was drastically altered to make the experience unique and make the gamer keep their guard up, particularly in Impossible Difficulty. What this does is control the “Horror” behind the scenes, in essence, this will generate either sounds, shadows, or even enemies. Where we have already stated that we don’t find the game scary this aspect of the game was interesting enough to make us take caution against things that might happen, but not enough to be afraid.
To conclude, the game is fascinating and beautiful, smooth to play and remains true to the original in most ways. There is not much we can say about it, which is bad, other than the obvious things:
- Holes in the World (Limited)
- Stretched Textures (Limited)
- Audio Glitches
- Irritating Physics
- Collision Issues
- Hit Detection not Detecting
Where they are extremely limited throughout the game they are things that are expected sadly. Personally, it’s easy to overlook as you actually need to go looking for most of the problems, and they are pretty well hidden throughout the game. The main gripe that we have is it doesn’t feel scary enough. Where this is more subjective and on a case-by-case basis this is a horror game and if it can’t deliver it’s not much of a horror game. Below is an image showing on board the USG Valor, specifically the command room-looking area. There is no Zero-G sequence here and yet this dead Marine wanted to float.
Even though it seems like we didn’t like the game, we really did. It is a true remake that any fan of Dead Space should be pleased with, the only things that produce a dilemma for us is the highlighted things in the different section. With all that being said we would like to address the Trophies and some of the other things like that. With the remake, there is a new trophy list and some familiar trophies return, some will say with a vengeance, like:
- One Gun
- Full Arsenal
- There’s Always Peng!
These are only a few of the trophies that can be found, other ones like the story, Killing Boss-type Necro’s and using weapons are also returning. There are also some new ones, like:
- Trusted Contractor
- Whole Again
Where Untouchable was in the original game, titled Epic Tier 3 Engineer, the Untouchable trophy is somewhat nastier. The reason for this is you are required to play through Impossible difficulty, which is Hard with the added bonus of having a single save file with Permadeath. Nothing like that Hard to the Core trophy from Dead Space 2, but still something troublesome. Thankfully it’s not that hard and can be done pretty easily, for the most part, that being said some of the more constraining trophies like:
- Playing Catch
- Kickin It
- Don’t Get Cocky, Kid
Have not made a return. Some people out there will find that beneficial as some of them were irritating to get right in the original, Presumably if added into the remake they would be made a considerable amount easier, like the rest of the game.
As a final “Food for Thought” point, as highlighted in the Graphics, Gameplay, and Mechanics section, we would like to bring attention to the weapons. Dead Space games have always had a bit of a diverse selection of weapons to hunt down the Necromorphs with, however with the Remake there are some unique features as previously stated. The part of this that we really like is the fact that the weapons have more of a purpose in the game and are not just another tool for killing Necros. Necros now have a more fleshed-out feel to them and with being so, have way more depth to them. This means that different weapons will produce different damage effects, if you attack a Necro with a Pulse Rifle you will just tear flesh off whereas a Plasma Cutter will fracture bone. This means you need to evaluate each scenario accordingly.
I don’t want to say it’s not worth the cost, because it really is, the game is a visual masterpiece but the fact that I don’t feel the fear I should is disappointing. in addition to the little glitches, this was a very slight disappointment. The legacy that Visceral Games built with the Dead Space Franchise was something that can only be experienced through the series on PS3, the remake of DS1 is good in its own right but like a lot of remakes has too much to live up to, and sadly for Isaac Clarke this one didn’t quite meet the expectations it was hyped up to be for us.
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