The original Dead Space is a title that holds a special place in my heart as someone who grew up playing survival horror. As someone who spent hours stomping up and down those eerie corridors fifteen years ago, the USG Ishimura is a pretty nostalgic place for me. This meant that it was unavoidable that I would be diving into this remake with a few pre-conceived notions.
The first of which being that this remake would have to have done something drastically wrong for me to dislike it. Thankfully, this is not the case; in fact it is quite the opposite. The other side of that coin being that because I love the original game so much, I would have taken it somewhat personally if the remake had been garbage. Again, I am happy to say that this is not what has occurred here.
On the contrary, EA Motive have managed to craft one of the greatest video game remakes since the Resident Evil 2 remake released back in 2019. The gameplay mechanics feel far more consistent with the Dead Space sequels and the other additions only function to serve the story being told. Going forward, this will forever be known as the definitive way to experience the first game in the Dead Space series.
Dead Space is out now and is available on PC, PlayStation and Xbox consoles.
For years, Dead Space fans have felt that the franchise deserved better than the decision made by EA to leave it out in the cold to die following the release of Dead Space 3. Mercifully, this remake has clearly been made by folks who hold the original game in high regard. This is obvious due to the lovingly designed elements of the remake.
The greatest thing about this remake is that Motive have managed to add enough new elements to make this version feel distinct from the original, whilst retaining the horrifying space opera elements that made the original so great. The end result is something that still very much resembles the original experience, whilst also enhancing it in every way imaginable.
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The remake is littered with these enhancements; one of the most prominent ones being that Isaac now has a voice. Gunner Wright played the role of Isaac in Dead Space 2 and 3 and he returns here to give a solid performance as an engineer using his expertise to survive this terrifying experience.
Hearing Isaac actively using his environmental knowledge gives him a sense of agency that was previously absent. Instead of every action he performs being a result of an order given to him by a crewmate, he instead uses his own logic to come up with solutions to the various problems he faces during his gory trek through the USG Ishimura.
Speaking of the iconic ship, players are now essentially free to explore the Ishimura at will due to the updated tram system. Previously, tram transportation in Dead Space was essentially used as a replacement to a loading screen (as was the trend during the era of the original game’s release.)
Due to the seamless nature of current-gen hardware, no loading screens are present in the remake and instead, the tram is used to allow players to backtrack up and down the ship Metriodvania style in order to complete side-quests and collect previously unobtainable loot. This seamless approach also means that the entirety of the Dead Space remake takes place in a single, unbroken shot, in the style of the recent God of War games.
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The other major gameplay improvement pertains to the zero gravity sequences peppered throughout Dead Space’s campaign. Instead of zipping from platform to platform due to the restricted movement options in the original game, players now have the ability to freely control Isaac in zero-G, more akin to the sequences seen in Dead Space 2 and 3.
This newfound movement ability allows some of the more monotonous space walks from the original game to now feel exciting and tense. Combat during these sequences can be particularly intense, especially when paired with Isaac’s limited oxygen supply shown counting down on the back of his suit.
Another welcome addition is the visual upgrade present in this new version of the game. Instead of just choosing to lazily apply a new set of polished textures and being done with it, EA Motive have taken the time to integrate several visual elements into the remake which amplify the already eerie atmosphere of Dead Space a great deal.
Improved lighting and enhanced particle effects cause the creepy corridors of the Ishimura to feel even more foreboding. There are times where the player’s only saving grace from all-encompassing darkness is a small neon sign hanging on the wall; the volumetric fog surrounding Isaac’s clunky boots being thick and having the potential to hide all sorts of unseen horrors.
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The original game received a great deal of praise for its clever approach to UI. Replacing the traditional health bar with a visual indicator on the back of Isaac’s suit was a stroke of genius in terms of allowing players to feel more immersed in the game’s world. This time around, a peeling mechanic has been implemented to create a similar effect for the game’s enemies.
As Isaac blasts away at the necromorphs, more and more of their skin and flesh is peeled away. Every shot results in a gory hole in the alien’s body which exposes more and more of their insides. Not only does this add a satisfying visual element to the combat in Dead Space, but it also doubles up as the enemy’s health bar, giving players a visual representation of how much damage they have left to deal before said enemy goes down.
Overall, this is a stellar remake of a modern classic. Whether you are a Dead Space veteran, or completely new to the series, this version will be known as the definitive way to experience Dead Space going forward. EA Motive have managed to pull off the impossible, in the sense that they have managed to recapture the lightning in a bottle which made the original title so great, whilst enhancing that nostalgic experience tenfold.
Dead Space Remake – 10/10
Dead Space was reviewed on PS5 with a code supplied by 160over90.
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