Commentary: The king of sci-fi horror games is back.
Whether you played the original Dead Space in 2008 or not, you'll want to play the remake.
For the uninitiated, the original Dead Space was a sci-fi survival horror game set in the 26th century. Players step into the role of engineer Isaac Clarke, part of a small crew sent to the USG Ishimura, a giant mining ship, to do repairs. But in true horror fashion, the Ishimura has become something of a ghost ship. Only a few crew members have survived thanks to the Necromorphs, the zombie/alien monsters responsible for a bloody massacre on the ship.
What makes this Dead Space remake so special is how it remains true to the original but somehow manages to completely reinvent the experience at the exact same time.
The Dead Space remake does have an advantage over other, similar remakes such as Resident Evil 2 and 3. The original Dead Space came out in 2008 -- its controls haven't had enough time to date poorly. The same goes for the visuals. The original Dead Space looked fantastic back in 2008 and still looks good in 2022. Still, it's hard to deny the forward strides made in this new remake. This is a fantastically made video game.
Visually, the remake is stunning. The lighting effects are some of the best found in any video game out there. Dark rooms feel unnerving and creepy in contrast with other areas basked in bright lights, creating a more welcoming environment, which made me lower my guard at just the right moments.
As beautiful as Dead Space looks, there are a few minor issues I came across. In rooms where there's smoke or mists, Necromorphs are a little too hard to see. The same can be said for areas in total darkness where the only source of light is the one that is emitted when pointing a weapon.
The remake feels like the original -- in a good way. Multiple times while playing I paused to look up YouTube clips of the 2008 original game and directly compare the two. I didn't even notice the "new" content in the remake because, in my mind, that content was already there. It was seamlessly integrated. I assumed I'd just forgotten about it since it's been over a decade since I played the original.
Dead Space is even more phenomenal when taking in the audio. Sound pours through the speakers with distant screams of pain echoing off the ship's metal hallways.
This time round we have a voice actor for Isaac. In the original, Isaac was a silent protagonist who didn't utter a word, just grunts and screams. Now he has a voice, but developer Motive Studio made the smart move by giving him limited dialogue. In the original, other characters delivered exposition with zero input from Isaac. This time around, his dialogue creates a more natural conversation between characters while conveying the same points as the original.
Dead Space made some other changes to the original as well, but like with Isaac's voice acting, it doesn't distract and seems as if it was always there. When exploring the Ishimura, there are times when Isaac will come across an area with zero gravity. He can move around effortlessly in all directions, which is a big difference from the original. Necromorphs will also show up in these areas, causing for some interesting zero-gravity combat where you blast them away while being upside down.
The boss monsters also changed in the remake, but again, I didn't notice until I actually went back and watched the original.
Dead Space also expanded on the franchise storyline. Dead Space's original plot unfolded quite slowly with the explanation of what was behind the Necromorphs coming much later in the game. This time around, there are earlier mentions of what's really behind the horror taking over the ship.
Helping with this narrative expansion are new side missions. These quests require more exploration of the Ishimura while also adding more details to the plot. And like everything else found in the remake, these additions were harmonious.
If there's one word to summarize the Dead Space remake, it's seamless. Practically every decision made in this game was done to make players like myself feel like these new additions were already in the original. This is remarkably tricky to do, but Motive pulled it off, making Dead Space something fans of the original and newcomers will enjoy equally.
Dead Space comes out on Friday on PC for $60 and on Xbox Series and PS5 for $70.