As soon as Dead Space was released in 2008, it was already regarded as a masterpiece of space horror and survival. In addition to providing a sci-fi environment with an engaging storyline, innovative game mechanics, and impressive graphics, it also demonstrated a good understanding of the genre.
Over a dozen years later, EA and development studio Motive released a new version for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles, which was intended for the personal computer. I suppose the obvious question is, of course, whether the new version stays true to the original while refreshing and adding new content, or whether it can be abandoned. You can save quite a bit and buy the original game instead. This is exactly why we set out to do this.
Life and Death Space
Dead Space is set in a distant, future universe where humans harvest the resources of entire stars. At its core is the Yoshimura, a spacecraft used for this purpose, which has suddenly gone missing. The player takes control of Isaac Clarke, an engineer, who is part of the rescue mission to investigate the ship and restore it back to working order.
Obviously, it’s science fiction, with a spaceship, space, and rescue team, and without spoiling too much, it’s influenced by many horror and adventure movies. Yes, there are also scary parts, at least trying to scare you, since it combines the nerve-wracking ‘The Eighth Passenger‘ with the disturbing ‘Nightmare at the Edge of the Horizon’.
The story of Dead Space has been given a fresh twist: Isaac now has a voice. He interacts with the crew members, giving feedback and insight into what is occurring on the ship. Moreover, certain characters are given far more attention and several side plots have been developed further, thus providing the player with an additional layer of information. Such changes heighten the experience rather than diminishing it, helping to make for a richer world.
This is not for the faint of heart
No matter how well Isaac and the crew prepare, they discover that the ship is full of Necromorphs, creatures that produce living corpses. Some have jagged limbs, some look like babies with arms, and some are huge and take up a great deal of space. They are gruesome, and morbid, and look like they’re straight out of John Carpenter’s The Creature.
Isaac, an engineer by profession, is forced to become a reluctant hero in order to save himself. He may not have the military training, but his intelligence and resourcefulness make him just as effective against the Necromorphs. Unlike other games of its genre, Isaac must rely on his plasma cutter to dismember the limbs of enemies instead of relying on merely a headshot – which would only make matters worse. Cutting off the legs or arms of the enemies will prevent them from attacking and moving quickly. He can also develop other abilities throughout the game such as controlling objects or slowing them down which will give him options to use different strategies in battle and ultimately help him survive on board throughout the ship.
In Dead Space, the third person point of view is close to the shoulder, taking inspiration from Resident Evil 4 and Yoshimura’s complicated pathways. This provides a strong atmosphere of dread and confinement, with no graphics or indicators on the screen; your life meter, ammo count, and weapons are instead located on Isaac’s space suit in order to preserve that atmosphere.
As for the spaceship design, there have been some slight changes made to make Yoshimura’s structure more logical. Additionally, there are now closed areas that require permission to enter. In order for players to achieve the highest level of clearance, and to risk encountering old enemies in exploring new areas, the game challenges and rewards them accordingly.
The sound design of the game is truly exceptional and helps to build a sense of tension throughout. The grating of metal and the machinery of the spacecraft never fail to leave players feeling tense while those wearing headphones will even be able to hear the Necromorphs creeping up behind or snaking through ducts. PlayStation 5 owners may also savor some extra features provided by their DualSense remote control, with sound cues like the loading of weapons, a heart-rate monitor, different effects for each weapon, and even gentle vibrations that tell you when you’re on different surfaces in the spaceship.
Twelve years after the original Dead Space, Electronic Arts is bringing it back to digital stores again, and it turns out that it offers more than just reworked graphics, which it could certainly provide on its own.
It was not necessary for EA and Motive to try as hard as they did – Dead Space was already a masterpiece when it was released. In spite of the fact that a graphical update would have been satisfactory, it is gratifying to see that they decided to go above and beyond, like with the plasma cutter, a precise innovation that re-envisions what needs to be done.
The game offers a display upgrade with fresh, contemporary new visuals. It is scarier and bloodier than ever before. The accessibility options are a great addition, ensuring it remains available for people with disabilities and those who don’t want to be too spooked can even censor the graphic scenes, or automatically focus on enemies. These improvements bring the 12-year-old horror game firmly into the modern age, maintaining its appeal for all.
Impressive and bloody graphics
The mystery pushes the plot forward
Disappointing final battle
All fans of the genre should own this game, whether they are climbing the Yoshimura for the first time or returning for a second time.