Dead Space is a third person survival horror game released in October 2008. At launch it was considered best in its class with great graphics and atmosphere. So does it hold up today? Lets find out.
Dead space was originally released on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Now it is also available on the Xbox one through backwards compatibility. At launch PC players faced various bugs, crashes and issues with the controls. Guides and mods are easily available to fix these issues. I got my game from the origin store, and during my playthrough I did not face any major issues.
We play as Isaac Clarke, an engineer. He is part of a small maintenance crew that has been dispatched to USG Ishimura, a deep space mining vessel that has mysteriously stopped all communication. The crew’s shuttle ends up crash landing in the USG Ishimura only to discover the ship is deserted. They are soon attacked by ghoulish creatures called Necromorphs. In this attack only three of the crew members survive. Computer specialist Kendra Daniels, Sgt. Zach Hammond and Isaac, who is separated from the other two during the attack. He is then tasked with fixing many of the failing systems on the ship in order to escape.
The story is mostly told via text and audio logs, character voiceovers and cutscenes. It is interesting, with several twists and turns, and a satisfying conclusion. The entire game takes 12 to 15 hours to complete.
The graphics look very good and have aged well. At 1080p the textures are sharp with good attention to detail. The graphics, lighting and atmosphere in the game are exceptionally well done. The ample gore and bloody death scenes are superbly crafted. The ship has a very industrial and worn out look. Each section of the ship has a distinctive vibe while still maintaining a cohesive look. It does a great job in creating a tense and an unsettling atmosphere.
I must give a special mention to the lighting during the cutscene at the beginning of the game. As we look around light within the shuttle changes and reflects against the characters and surfaces depending on if the nearby star is in view. Considering that the game is almost 12 years old, the fact that this can amaze us even now, is truly commendable. Later in the game, during the zero G sections, watching objects, dismembered body parts floating around can be horrifying yet beautiful.
There is no traditional HUD in the game, all the information you need is provided on Isaacs suit and through holographic projections. This is done an intuitive and organic way which creates an immersive experience.
The gameplay consists of shooting and light puzzle solving. The pace of the game is slow, which adds to the tension and creepiness. The weaponry isn’t the usual guns and ammunition you would find in any other game. The weapons here are repurposed mining equipment. Early in the game we also get the stasis and kinesis ability. Stasis allows you to temporarily slow down objects while the kinesis ability allows you to move and throw objects. As we keep progressing, we are faced with different types of Necromorphs, knowing which weapon is most effective against each type is the key to survival. The usual headshots aren’t as effective here as is dismembering the monsters. Exploring your surroundings to find ammo, health packs and credits are very important. Credits are the in-game currency you can use to purchase suit upgrades and resources. You will also need power nodes, they are essential to upgrading your equipment and stasis module. The zero gravity sections of the game, which are usually in a vacuum, make oxygen a scarce commodity. This significantly ramps up the tension and are great fun to play.
The one major flaw of the game is the backtracking. As we progress and fix the various problems on the ship, we need to repeatedly go back to different sections which can at times get boring and monotonous.
The sound design in the game is vital to the eery atmosphere. While Isaac is a silent protagonist the rest of the cast members give a great performance.
As we are progressing, we can hear the menacing sounds of the Necromorphs shuffling around keeping us at the edge of our seat waiting for the next attack. Distant screams from victims or sudden jump scares can get your blood pumping. During combat the sound of body parts being blown off and screeching monsters are excellent. When the player is injured or is low on oxygen you can hear Isaac groaning and struggling to breath, this along with the rest contribute greatly to the tension in the game.
So was Dead Space worth the hype? should you play it?
If you are in the mood for a tense and violent survival horror game, Dead Space is the one for you. The engaging story, coupled with great graphics that can still impress, along with the superb sound design make dead space a must play for anyone who is a fan of horror games.
Have you played Dead Space? Leave a comment below to let us know what you thought of the game and if it was worth the hype?