Dead Space Review: A Bloodcurdling Return to the Ishimura : InfoWorldBlog


Dead Space remake — out now on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series S/X — seemed an ambitious project from the get-go. I hoped it would be the right dose of sci-fi horror I needed injected into my veins, after the sour letdown that was The Callisto Protocol. Although reimagining a classic might make any fan feel cautious, EA Motive’s approach to development had me optimistic. To ensure this game’s core stayed true to the original, the studio formed a community council early on, including die-hard fans of Dead Space, who were consulted every six weeks to collect feedback on their work. Seeing as I only had faint memories of the 2008 version, I was excited to go in (practically) fresh and experience the horrors that await in the shadows!

Dead Space review: Story

This resurrection takes me back to when EA made games that defined genres for years. Sure, Dead Space remake amplifies those aspects with needed tweaks, but the result is incomparable to what Capcom achieved with the spectacular Resident Evil 2. At least in terms of new offerings, Dead Space is a near shot-by-shot reinterpretation that plays it incredibly safe. It doesn’t shake things up much, but it also definitely isn’t a glorified texture pack, that’s for sure. Keeping the larger story intact, our lead space engineer Isaac Clarke is now humanised, thanks to actual voice lines that see him actively talk and exchange ideas with his colleagues.

Gunner Wright returns to breathe new life into the once-silent protagonist, diverting his personality into a far more influential one than simply accepting orders like a yes-man. If we can even call him that, because in the original, he never even bothered nodding his head in agreement. That said, Clarke only speaks in response to prompts or when the plot deems it necessary, cutting down on unnecessary banter or quips that plague most modern AAA titles.

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Through a bloody graffiti, the game instructs you to aim for the Necromorphs’ limbs
Photo Credit: Screenshot/ Rahul Chettiyar

Deployed on a mission to repair the vast mining ship USG Ishimura, we discover the entire crew slaughtered, and its confines now swarming with bloodthirsty Necromorphs wielding sharp, slasher claws. The Dead Space remake plunges you right into the action with bloodied graffiti instructing you to aim for the creatures’ limbs instead of their heads. They might move and act like zombies but echo the mechanics from Resident Evil, where a headshot might not suffice. Flickering lights are a crucial tone setter here, masking areas in pitch black and dialling fear levels to the max as you explore spooky corridors hoping not to get ambushed. In my playthrough of the original, the directive dialogue led me to mindlessly wander from point A to point B, killing hostiles and finishing tasks, without caring much for Clarke’s background lore. EA Motive combats this by incorporating an extra layer of side missions that encourage you to explore rooms that lie away from the main path, rewarding you with loot and audio logs.

Dead Space remake review: Gameplay

Upping the immersion is a lack of camera cuts, which ensures Dead Space plays out as a single tracking shot. Similar to God of War (2018), there are no obvious loading screens — besides deaths and deceptive TRAM travels — that let you mentally prepare for the next scare. If needed, pausing the game is always an option. The Dead Space remake carries over a ton of gameplay-focused traits from the original. The HUD (heads-up display), for instance, is seamlessly integrated into Clarke’s kit, where he can pull up holographic projections to access the inventory and map. Meanwhile, the life bar is indicated by the glowing blue fluid attached to his suit’s spinal column, freeing up space on screen, so you can soak up the gritty surroundings.

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The incredible lighting effects and sound design pull you into Dead Space’s unforgiving world
Photo Credit: EA Motive

Dismemberment is the core gameplay element in Dead Space. Armed with a Plasma Cutter and a Stasis Module (time-slowing device), you’re thrown into this nightmarish battle for survival, as you frantically freeze incoming hordes and shoot at their stabby appendages. As their gory, twisted remains start crawling toward you, you run up and repeatedly curb-stomp them until you hear bones crack and they stop moving. The reward is some loot and a brief period of calm, as a blood-drenched Clarke breathes heavily into his shrouded helmet.

It’s also during these gruesome fight sets that Dead Space’s visuals and sound design really shine. Kill animations look gorgeous and the realism is stepped up with natural blood squirts, accompanied by tiny details such as flailing skin and flying chunks of flesh. Similarly, panic skyrockets while reloading weapons, upon hearing the metallic footsteps of a faraway Necromorph trudging towards you in the darkness. It is integrated immaculately, and your torchlight being the only visual aid during these scenes makes for some incredible jumpscares.

While Dead Space initially decks you out as a gigachad of sorts, the difficulty is ramped up soon with new enemies in the form of tentacular babies, Twitchers that move with rapid glitches, some exploding creatures, and a lot more. This is where upgrades come in handy, and these can be accessed using workbenches that are scattered onboard the Ishimura. Even the stabby monstrosities from before can get persistent in the later stages, forcing you to strategise attacks and manage the in-game economy so you don’t end up under-levelled by the endgame. Nodes, which can be scavenged from lockers, are used to upgrade equipment. If you’re running short on supplies, always look for the light. Kick open any glowing crates to accrue ammunition, healing items, or Credits (in-game currency). 10,000 units of the latter can be exchanged at shops for a Node, ergo instant upgrade. So, never stop plundering.

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A Node costs 10,000 units of Credits (in-game currency)
Photo Credit: Screenshot/ Rahul Chettiyar

The Plasma Cutter alone is reliable enough to carry you from start to finish, but I rarely found myself clinging to it exclusively. Dead Space offers delectable weapons with flashy quirks that will have you intuitively cycling between them, adding some flair to your combat. As someone who once aspired to be an orthopaedic surgeon, the Ripper became a personal favourite of mine. It’s essentially a spinning razor that’s practical for shredding limbs and bursting open bulbous growths at close range. There’s also an alternate firing mode for long-range situations, so you can shoot the blade at high speed. And guess what?… It ricochets off surfaces!!! That last part was a tragic discovery for me because I wasted so much ammo trying to hit crafty rebound shots. Welp, you live and learn!

For crowd control, I preferred the Flamethrower, particularly its alternate fire mode, which creates a wall of engulfing flames to stagger enemies and burn them to a crisp. There were a few times when enemies didn’t cooperate, so my lazy bum just activated Stasis and froze them in time until the scorching heat did its job. It’s crazy how much room Dead Space offers for creativity — even surpassing the likes of overpowered weapons that shoot blinding energy beams. Kinesis, a skill you pick up early in the game, can be a formidable tool outside of puzzle solving scenarios. Out of ammo? Telekinetically pick up severed limbs or metal rods — anything with a pointy end, really — and chuck it straight into baddies to impale them. Repeat the process with orange canisters, and get treated to fiery explosions as the Necromorphs are blasted into smithereens. The possibilities are endless!

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The Plasma Cutter’s alt-fire lets you change the beam’s orientation — vertical to horizontal, and vice versa
Photo Credit: EA Motive

The Ishimura is littered with puzzles and minigames, including one that plays like zero-gravity basketball. It serves as a distraction from the depressing themes of the larger story, as you relax and hurtle around in space. Unlike the original, where movement in zero-G zones was limited to leaping onto walls with magnetic boots, the remake derives its mechanics from Dead Space 2 and 3. By activating thrusters, you can now freely float around in space, reach faraway locations for extra loot, and partake in airborne combat set against a quiet, atmospheric backdrop. Another cool feature in Dead Space is the abundance of save points, but this also makes the game a bit too easy in my opinion. Then again, using them is completely optional, so I’ve got no room to complain. The more the merrier, I guess.

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The thrusters allow you to freely float around in space
Photo Credit: EA Motive

This brings me to the final factor — the price tag, which I think is on the higher end. Especially the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X versions, which start at Rs. 4,499/ $70 — significantly more than the PC version, which costs Rs. 2,999. Sure, having an EA Play subscription grants a 10 percent discount but it’s just not enough. That said, it is a more noteworthy and impactful remake than 2022’s The Last of Us Part I, which felt like a $70 texture pack. Since the Dead Space remake features a story that many of its intended customers have already experienced, I would recommend getting it on sale, if you can wait, that is. On the other hand, if you’ve never played the original, just shut your eyes and get it. This is the definitive way to experience Dead Space and all its spooky goodness, and I guarantee that you will hold it close to your heart!

Dead Space review: Verdict

With Dead Space, EA Motive has succeeded in mimicking the horrors of the original from 14 years ago, spicing things up with stellar detailing, satisfying gunplay, and tension-building that never strays from the original. Fresh narrative choices give Isaac Clarke some needed character depth, whilst creating opportunities for rewarding exploration through new side quests. This is a remake done right, playing to modern tropes without shying away from depicting gore and using crude language — something that will appeal to both veterans and newcomers to the franchise.

Pros

  • Looks and runs great
  • Isaac Clarke isn’t silent anymore
  • New side missions and lore
  • Ample save points
  • Fun weapons that encourage a hybrid playstyle
  • Brutal combat
  • More freedom in zero gravity zones

Cons

  • A bit on the pricier end
  • Shadows can be too dark
  • Music can be too dramatic at times

Rating (out of 10): 8

Dead Space released January 27 on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series S/X

Pricing starts at Rs. 2,999 on Steam, Epic Games Store, and EA App for PC. PS5 and Xbox Series S/X versions cost Rs. 4,499.


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