HAVE A VIDEO YOU WANT TO FEATURE ON OUR PAGE?

Submit Video

To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Not now
OK
Advert
Advert
Advert

Dead Space review: nerve-shatteringly terrifying horror

Imogen Donovan

Published 
| Last updated 

Dead Space review: nerve-shatteringly terrifying horror

Featured Image Credit: Electronic Arts

There are countless dos and don’ts of social media etiquette. They’re online but they haven’t read the message. Oh, they have read the message now but they’ve not replied… in three hours. Personally, I don’t subscribe to any of it because these things are designed to prey on our impulses. Moreover, I would hope that no one looks too much into my replying habits: some scientists might call them “flaky.”

Advert

While playing Motive Studio’s Dead Space remake, no one had ever received replies from me so fast. I was pausing and putting the controller down in half an hour stints because that’s about as much as I could stomach. This thing shatters your nerves like a paper plate of jelly and whipped cream in an industrial shredder. It’s one thing to say nowhere is safe in this game and it’s another thing to feel it in your caffeinated heart, in your tensed fingers clamping triggers down so you’re ready if and when something clambers out of a vent, in your next door neighbour’s flat when you shout every expletive under the sun while emptying an entire clip.

Check out the launch trailer below:

Loading…

Advert

Catherine and Kate, our other journalists on the team, aren’t familiar with the original Dead Space so I summed up what it is. Among Us: Extreme Simulator, they concluded. They’re not 100% wrong. Receiving a distress signal from the mining rig USG Ishimura, the USG Kellion arrives to see a darkened shadow of metal hovering above its assigned planet, Aegis VII. No lights on and no communications. Odd but no cause for immediate concern. That is, until the Kellion crew dock onto the Ishimura and discover that almost all of the employees are dead and there are creatures with spears for limbs picking those lone survivors off.

Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts
Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts

Why don’t we shift that Kellion in reverse and get the f*k out of there? Nicole, the girlfriend of our central character Isaac Clarke, is on board the Ishimura. She was able to send a video message to us shortly before everything went to hell and she’s missing somewhere on the ship. Also the Kellion is trashed and we need to repair it - even if you think she’s a damsel, in distress, and she can handle this, we’re stuck here until further notice.

Advert
Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts
Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts

As a remake, the visuals are now appallingly pleasing and there are alterations to the original’s events and small story aspects which will reward the curiosity of returning players. Areas of the Ishimura will only open if you have the correct security clearance, traversal can be blocked by solvable environmental puzzles, and Isaac is voiced this time by actor Gunner Wright which leads to new layers to the way the story unfolds. Additionally, brands from the later games show up on adverts and they feel like they were always there.

This game is extremely dark with a colour palette that is mostly browns and greys, just like Grandma used to make ‘em in mid-late 2000s. Today, that’s not a frustration. Isaac’s weapon is the only light source that you can use while on the move so you’re always primed aiming down the sights to see anything, and to add to this horrible heart-in-your-mouth feeling, that beam is about the diameter of a kitchen clock. The Necromorph creatures crash through vents to hunt the character and you’ll soon realise that these vents are everywhere - on blind corners, next to doors, behind you.

Advert
Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts
Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts

Gripping that DualSense like it was the door in Titanic, the game’s artificial intelligence selects from a pool of 1,200 unique events to orchestrate the fear. From a sparking lightbulb to the screaming of survivors to opening the door on three Necromorphs, I was at the whims of whatever it threw at me. That knife edge of never knowing if it’s a Necromorph stamping about above you or if it’s one of the Ishimura’s fans spinning away should be bottled and sold to people who talk the big talk about New Year’s Resolutions because this will motivate you to move your ass immediately.

Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts
Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts
Advert

When I’d spoken to technical director David Robillard, I raised the necessity of using real references of grievous bodily injuries for the game’s peeling system. This is a light spoiler but the Necromorphs are the reanimation of corpses on the Ishimura, and of course, no one looks too fresh when they’re dead. This peeling system reveals the tendons, muscles, organs and bone of the creature as damage is dealt to it and dependent on the weapon Isaac is wielding.

As aforementioned, the adrenaline coursing through me did not make me into a latter-day John Wick and I was pulverising the enemies with whatever I had my hands on. Dead Space creatures only die if you cut off their limbs or strike specific weak points, though, so this peeling system was simultaneously satisfying and petrifying. I could see how close I was to downing one of them as their spears hung on by strings of flesh, or, I could see the layers of rotted red muscle clinging to its skull… and it’s still sprinting towards me.

Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts
Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts

Admittedly, I spent the majority of my time in the game as distraught as a cat at the vets, though there is something slightly heartwarming about travelling back in time to 2008. Survivors of the Ishimura scribble hints to the story on tram walls, paint it on windows in their own blood. And, the menus are actually usable. This alone should be enough to sell this to you.

Dead Space has gotten an expansion of sorts with the extras that Motive Studio has added to the original, but it’s so nostalgic to play a game with a sturdy structure to its missions. Backtracking reveals both risks and rewards and the synergy between art, technical direction and level design anchors these spaces in your mind so you’re unlikely to ever be lost.

Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts
Dead Space / Credit: Electronic Arts

Considering the constraints and the opportunities that come with a remake, and the question of if it’s even necessary, it’s possible to swing too far either side. Not enough is different, which validates the purists yet negates the work done by the original team. Or, it’s a shade of what made the original so good, sowing dissatisfaction among fans. It’s a tall task and one fraught with the fear that you might have made too many missteps to turn back. With this Dead Space, the developer welcomes not only faithful players but fresh-faced recruits and stunningly enough, neither of them know what they’re in for. They will love the ride though. Scream if you want to go faster, and all that.

Pros: terrifying in the realest sense of the word, astonishing art direction, bring back ‘don’t dead open inside’ environmental grafitti

Cons: minor visual and technical errors

For fans of: Resident Evil, Prey, The Callisto Protocol

8/10: Excellent

Dead Space was reviewed on PlayStation 5 with code provided by PR. Game releases for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X. Read a guide to our review scores here.

Topics: Dead Space

Imogen Donovan
More like this
Advert
Advert
Advert

Chosen for YouChosen for You

The Elder Scrolls

The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion just got a huge fan expansion you can download free

13 hours ago

Most Read StoriesMost Read