Dead Space

Dead Space Remake Review

Dead Space originally was released in 2008 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. After many decades since the trilogy of games, and a huge amount of extra content has been concluded, we are now at the point where we can add Dead Space to the long list of games that have gotten a complete remastering/remake much like the Resident Evil series… Seeing a PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 era game get one of these remake upgrades makes me feel really damn old.

Dead SpaceName: Dead Space
Platform(s): PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox Series X/S
Developer: Motive Studio
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Game Type: Survival horror
Mode(s): Single-player
Release Date: January 27, 2023

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In Space… You’re F**ked! (Story)

Dead Space Story Summary – SPOILERS

Click to read story summary
The Kellion crew arrives at the outskirts of Aegis VII, but they crash-land aboard the Ishimura due to a docking malfunction. An injured Johnston stays behind as Isaac, Kendra, Hammond, and Chen investigate the seemingly abandoned ship. Necromorphs made from the corpses of Ishimura’s crew attack the group, killing Chen and forcing them to separate. As they battle the undead crew, the trio investigates the Ishimura to repair its damage and find out what caused the outbreak. The situation quickly worsens: Necromorphs kill Johnston and destroy the Kellion, and a mutated Chen attacks Hammond before being sealed in an escape pod.

While exploring and repairing the Ishimura, Isaac briefly reunites with Nicole and meets Cross, who is trying to find Temple and kill a giant Necromorph called the Leviathan. Isaac also discovers the presence of the fanatical Church of Unitology, a cult that led to his devout Unitologist mother killing his father and herself, straining his relationship with Nicole, and a large Marker – a mysterious icon of Unitology, which apparently caused the outbreak by inducing psychosis in the planet’s colonists and later the Ishimura’s crew. As Isaac, Kendra, and Hammond are tormented by Marker-induced hallucinations, Isaac encounters Mercer, who sends a Necromorph he created to kill him so he can bring the Marker to Earth and cause a phenomenon he calls “Convergence”.

After Isaac launches an SOS beacon into space, a military ship called the USM Valor arrives, but suffers its own outbreak, having picked up Chen’s escape pod earlier. The Valor crashes into the Ishimura, and Isaac and Hammond board the former to recover its singularity core for an escape shuttle that Hammond found. Onboard, the two learn that the Valor was not sent to rescue the Ishimura but to destroy it and kill any survivors. The pair find the core, but Hammond is attacked by Chen and sacrifices himself to kill him with the overloaded core. Isaac retrieves it and narrowly escapes Valor’s destruction. Returning to Ishimura, he encounters Kyne, who convinces Isaac and Kendra that they should return the Marker to Aegis VII to stop the outbreak.

While helping Kyne recover the Marker, Isaac re-encounters Mercer, who kills Temple before he is killed in turn by Necromorph growths. Isaac retrieves the Marker from the growths and loads it on the shuttle, but Kendra murders Kyne and escapes on her own. Kendra explains that she is an agent of EarthGov sent to recover the Marker, which she reveals is the man-made Red Marker – a failed attempt to reverse-engineer the original Black Marker. EarthGov hid the Red Marker on Aegis VII, but Ishimura’s illegal mining operation revealed its presence, triggering the outbreak and forcing EarthGov to cover up the incident. Before she can leave, Isaac and Nicole recall the shuttle and use it to fly to the surface of Aegis VII, though Kendra flees in an escape pod.

Isaac and Nicole successfully return the Red Marker to the planet, but Kendra arrives and steals it back. She reveals that Nicole was dead all along, having committed suicide to avoid becoming a Necromorph, the “Nicole” Isaac was working with is actually Cross, who hallucinated Isaac as Temple, and the Marker manipulated them both to return the Marker to the Hive Mind, an enormous necro morph which telepathically commands the others. Kendra kills a defiant Cross before she is killed by the awakened Hive Mind, which is in turn killed by Isaac. Isaac narrowly escapes Aegis VII as Ishimura’s payload crashes onto its surface. Alone in the escape shuttle, Isaac begins to fly away but is attacked by a hostile hallucination of Nicole.

In an alternate ending following the New Game+ mode, Isaac discusses “building something new” with his hallucination of Nicole, having covered the shuttle’s interior with the Marker’s language.

Story Review – Some Vague Spoilers

If you played Dead Space back in 2008, there isn’t going to be that you are going to find to be different from the main story during your time in the US Ishimura. What you are going to get with the remake of Dead Space is a more fleshed-out story where things like the relationship between Isaac and Nicole are enhanced through side-quests that lead to more video blogs that helps give more backstory in this regard. Outside of small additional details, the biggest change is that Isaac is no longer a silent protagonist and now has the same voice actor he had in Dead Space 2 and Dead Space 3 back in the day, leading to more personality from Isaac than he had back in 2008.

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Dead Space

Goreious Dismemberment (Graphics)

The biggest update to Dead Space is the graphics. Using a lot of todays development technology, Dead Space amps up the scariness and the gore that you are going to come across. There is a lot more detail to the Ishimura than there was before, but you might not see it as the game does appear darker than it did in 2008. What you will notice from the get-go is Isaac himself, coming across much more detailed than he did originally. There is a lot more detail, kibble, and rust on Isaac than there was before, giving a much more realistic look to Isaac than he had previously. The second thing you will notice is the Necromorphs themselves are a lot more detailed, with more rot and grossness than the last time you ripped their limbs off. Speaking of limbs, as I’ll mention again in gameplay, you will see things like Isaac’s trademark cutter do more of a peeling job on the rotting flesh of a Necromorph than just slicing a limb off, something that was added to give more challenge to the game. But the graphical detail is so good that it might make the more squeamish of you reach for the puke bucket more than once.

One thing about the graphics, and this came from a friend playing the PC version (I’m playing the Xbox Series X version), is that Dead Space does not take advantage of Ray-Tracing, which comes off as a shame because if there was a game where this could have been an advantage, then Dead Space should be using it. While Dead Space is a scary dark and lonely-looking game, in which some areas you are only left with your flashlight or the light from cutter beams as your own light source, using Ray-Tracing would have added to the atmosphere.

Dead Space

Things that bump you in the dark… (Gameplay)

A majority of the gameplay in Dead Space hasn’t changed… Kinda. While the aim of the game is still to survive the onslaught of Necromorphs while discovering the mystery behind the abandonment of the Ishimura, the way you go about these things has been altered enough to give veterans of this franchise a good bit of challenge while giving the newer players something that will really push them in terms of wanting to continue playing after first starting up the game.

What I mean by this is the new change to the shooting/cutting mechanics that are meant to take down the Necromorphs. Back in 2008, you would just shoot the limbs off one of these gross creatures, disabling it enough to put your boot through its skull for the finishing blow. In 2023 though, you can only peel the flesh off the bones, then get a shot off that will disable a limb, then you have to repeat this more before getting that final boot in for the kill. This makes using ammo, which is already in short supply, a much harder option to handle the hordes. However, Dead Space makes up for this by giving you more environmental weapons such as containers of explosive gas canisters so you don’t run out of options.

The gameplay changes don’t stop at the main hordes either. Dead Space has also changed some things in the general sense. The former shooting gallery sections where you would slow things down through shooting meteors have been replaced with a space-walk section where the intensity has been increased by opening up these sections and giving you more space to defend while making your way between sections. Also, Dead Space has no loading screens, making the sectioning of the Ishimura no longer needed and allowing the game to play in one smooth motion.

Dead Space

Relive the nightmare… again… (Replayability)

It’s hard to recommend Dead Space to people who played the game back in 2008 since the majority of the game is the same as it was back then. However, there are enough changes made to Dead Space that it provides a new challenge, and also rips away the chafe that made the 2008 version a bit of a slog to play through. For those of you who do jump back into Dead Space and have a look into what this remake has to offer, you’ll be wanting to play the game a second time for a special secret ending that can only be unlocked via playing in New Game Plus mode.

Those who haven’t played the original Dead Space in 2008 would love to jump into the boots of Isaac and head into the US Ishimura for one hell of a good fright fest. Much like those of us who played in 2008 lost sleep because of the true survival horror nature of Dead Space, this new version will do the same all over again.

Dead Space

A Slicing Good Time. (Closing)

Dead Space is still one of those games where you have to give it a go at some time or another. A true survival-horror classic that has only benefitted from the remake process, much like the Resident Evil games before it. The upgrade in graphics makes killing Necromorph grosser than ever, with peeling flesh making things look almost too real to be true. However, don’t go into the Dead Space remake thinking that it is going to be a completely new experience, because it is not. Dead Space is a remaster with a couple of changes at most, not a true remake. But if you haven’t played Dead Space before, give it a shot and you’ll be leaving the light on at night for good reason.

Review Disclosure Statement: Dead Space was purchased by the reviewer for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.

Summary

Dead Space does a good job of being a remake with enough changes to give enough of a challenge for returning players but also improves the scares enough that the new generation of gamers who are more used to gore will be shaking when something goes bump in the night. However, if you have played 2008 originally, it’s going to be hard to justify paying full price for Dead Space in 2023. If you haven’t played this game before, buy it. If you have played it before, find a sale before you buy it.

Pros

  • Updated graphics are awesome
  • Removes a lot of the slowdown in gameplay
  • Expands the canon really well

Cons

  • New players might not like the new peeling system
  • Easy to get overwhelmed by enemies
  • The overall story remains unchanged for returning players
Overall
4