GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween 2013: Dead Space
Monsters, ghouls, ghosts, and zombies are all quite terrifying. After all, the paranormal and supernatural help create feelings of helplessness. That said, things get even more intense when you're stuck somewhere among the stars. Such is the case with Dead Space, a horror shooter that first appeared in 2008 and went on to become quite the magnificent fusion of action and fear. The game was able to take mechanics that worked — either original or borrowed from other franchises — and meticulously coated a horrific layer of bloody paint on top of those mechanics to make a wholly unique package.
So let's jump right into the desolate Dead Space and see exactly why it's a game to play on Halloween. If you're a shooter fan and want some good ol' zombie awesomeness, though, be sure to check out our previous installment of GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween, where we chatted about Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned.
Why it stands out
Dead Space can easily be chalked up to just being one of those titles that's better than the sum of its parts. Doing that, however, would be a great disservice to this particular title. The fact of the matter is that while Dead Space certainly borrows several familiar mechanics from games such as Resident Evil 5 and Gears of War, it executes them well enough and memorably enough to make the experience worth playing. Yes, this game takes several key elements that we've seen before, but it doesn't half-ass them.
Another thing that makes Dead Space a worthwhile venture is its implementation of horror elements. You've got this action-oriented third-person shooter that already does things well, but then you also have this horror game that can totally immerse you in its lore and setting.
Is it scary?
Fear is approached quite interestingly in Dead Space. First, let's get the obvious out of the way: Yes, there are jump scares. If you're looking for a game that'll get your heart racing and dish out brief moments of intense fear, you'll get exactly that on a number of occasions. Some people will argue that jump scares are kind of cheap, but I've always been a fan when they're done sporadically and at the right moments. If you have the same mindset, you're bound to enjoy the few jump scares that Dead Space has to offer.
More impactful than the game's blatant scares, however, is the atmosphere. It's bad enough you're stuck in space, but never knowing what lurks around the corner is completely nerve-wracking. Tight corridors and conveniently placed obstructions create an almost claustrophobic ambiance that makes you feel uneasy.
Another aspect that draws you deeper into the setting of Dead Space is its lighting. This is a very moody game, and its darkness reflects that. It's preferable that you play this game with the lights off, because doing so will further help to suck you into its madness. It's already scary enough being attacked by alien monsters in the dark, but when you see them in the light and witness their horrific appearances, things get even more dreadful.
Why play it on Halloween?
In case it isn't already obvious, the tone of Dead Space is the main reason to enjoy a playthrough on Halloween. The game's creepiness is expertly crafted, and its environments will cause you constant trepidation. Then there are the jump scares, which work well to give you that instantaneous burst of breathtaking fear. Seriously, if the idea of being stuck in space hasn't already given you the creeps before, Dead Space is very likely to change that.
It helps that this is just a damn good shooter, too. While it isn't exactly the most original game on the market — especially five years after its initial debut — it's full of awesome action throughout, making it a fun game for fans of the genre. Throw in some ugly-ass aliens and eerie environments, and you've got an ideal choice for Halloween.
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