Dead Space Review
The survival horror genre has been fairly slow as of late. While established franchises like Silent Hill and Resident Evil are still churning out titles and delivering scares to horror fans, it’s been a while since something new has hit the fray. EA is looking to change that with Dead Space, their new survival horror IP. Dead Space combines some of the best elements of sci-fi and horror, making for a compelling and frightening experience.
Dead Space borrows many elements from other horror action games, most notably Resident Evil 4 and Doom 3. The controls are easy to grasp, feeling a lot like RE4 in terms of over-the-shoulder shooting mechanics. However, while the game does borrow a lot of elements from related titles, it does offer some great new additions to the formula, making it a solid and creepy survival-horror game that fans of the genre will definitely want to look into.
In Dead Space you play as Isaac, an engineer whose imposing appearance looks a cross between the Space Marine from Doom and a Big Daddy from BioShock. Isaac and two other crewmen become trapped on board of a ship that has become overrun by a disturbing alien species called Necromorphs. Through audio and video logs, you’ll be able to piece together what happened to the crew and the ship as well as how the Necromorphs invaded.
One interesting element in Dead Space is the lack of a proper HUD. Instead of having Isaac’s health, ammo, etc. prominently displayed on the screen, there are indicators within the game that let you know how much ammo or health Isaac has. For example, Isaac’s health indicator is a light blue strip that runs up his spine, and his ammo counter is an LED that appears on each weapon. While this can feel a bit gimmicky, especially considering that your inventory and map screen will also pop-up on the screen in holograph form when they could have just as well been their own pause screen, it still mostly works well.
Another cool element of the gameplay is the dismemberment system. In order to defeat Necromorphs, you have to use your weaponry in order to knock off limbs and appendages from them. Depending on the enemy type, you’ll have to either knock off a certain kind and amount of limbs, be they arms, legs, tentacles, and so on. While you can take them out by shooting them enough times, you’ll just end up wasting ammo. Dismembering your enemies becomes an important way to strategically take them out, and is a nice mechanic.
Your weaponry is pretty diverse. You’ll be able to hold four different weapon types at a time, and they range from functional tools like Plasma Cutters and Flamethowers, as well as Rail Guns and Pulse Rifles and more that you can discover as you go. Aside from weapons, you’ll also have special abilities that you can perform to defeat enemies or get from one place to another, stasis and kinesis. Stasis will allow you to slow down an object or enemy in order to get past them or take them out; while kinesis lets you pick up objects in the environment in order to clear a path.
You’ll also be able to upgrade your weapons, abilities, and RIG suit through the use of upgrade benches. These can be found throughout the space station, and allow you to add improved stats to your equipment by using nodes that can be found in the environment. You’ll be able to add ammo capacity, damage ability, and so on to your weapons, while adding oxygen capacity and increase hit points.
Unfortunately, while the game does offer some great elements to the survival horror genre, there are some problems, the biggest of which occur due to the linear nature of the game. The game is divided into levels, each with their own centralized hub with a store for buying new items and sections of the stage branching off from there. You’ll explore all that each level has to offer before you move onto the next area. The game should take most gamers a little over ten hours to complete, and aside from higher difficulty levels, there is little to entice you to return for a second playthrough.
Graphically, the game looks fantastic. The art direction, featuring a mix of derelict sci-fi and Clive Barker-esque gore, is pretty chilling, and the environments are very detailed and well-rendered, and the character models look excellent. All in all, Dead Space is a great-looking game.
The sound effects are also great, with ambient noise adding a pretty intense mood to the game, making the game even more terrifying.
Dead Space is a great addition to the survival horror genre, taking some of its best elements and adding some great new ones. While the linear nature puts a damper on the game’s replay value, the game is definitely worth a look for horror fans on the lookout for something scary this Halloween.
Review Scoring Details for Dead Space
Even though the game can be repetitious and linear, the storyline and sense of atmosphere is great, and the dismemberment system is a great feature.
With fantastic art direction and some fantastically detailed environments and character models, Dead Space is a great-looking game.
The sound effects lend a frightening ambience to the game, and can create some really terrifying moments.
Dead Space wears its influences on its sleeve, but also adds some great new elements to the survival horror genre.
Dead Space is a fairly linear affair that will take most gamers a little over ten hours to complete. However, it is one hell of a ride.