Dead Space (Review)

Howdy hidey ho!  I won’t hide it: Dead Space was one of my favorite horror games of all time.  That means this remake immediately had to be on my radar.  Well here we are, and while Isaac’s face is perhaps not at all what I expected, the slew of other changes promise to enhance the experience. So is this a new Dead Space or the old classic Dead Space with a fresh coat of paint?


…I felt the need to bring explosive comfort canisters with me when I could…

Before we go on, if you’re like me and prefer lower aim sensitivity, the game defaults to the lowest setting and I still found it to overreact to my inputs.  While I eventually reduced the deadzone and adapted to it, I thought I’d warn others.  With that out of the way, things were immediately familiar.  This gave me a small advantage: the slow, methodical exploration and cramped hallway combat were instinctive and I couldn’t help but wax nostalgic.  This was definitely the old Dead Space.  But they knew there were people like me, and soon came the new Dead Space: zero gravity environments.  Gone is the wonky method of sticking to walls and in is full 3D movement.  I won’t deny it: it’s so much better this way and requires some skillful sense of spatial awareness.  But that couldn’t slow me down: I KNOW this game!  That’s where the “Intensity Director” comes in, and boy did it adjust to me.  The better I did, the more aggressive the enemies would become and how they would pop.  This is what I’ve been waiting for: it’s basically dynamic difficulty.  I did an entire video on this, and finally this is a proper baby-step towards challenge-adjusting AI.  Sure, it also corrects itself based on your core difficulty level, but I could tell when it was pressuring me harder and easing up after draining my ammo and health.  Bravo, I say, bravo.  The fact that I felt the need to bring explosive comfort canisters with me when I could should tell you how the game kept me from “knowing” what to expect.  This even encouraged me to explore the still-mindblowingly-good variety of weaponry on hand moreso than before because, well… I needed to feel prepared.  If there’s anything that still detracts from the experience, it’s that the backtracking, errand-type, maze-like design remains from its nearly-15-year-old era.  But this isn’t a soft reboot and I instantly found myself forgiving this in favor of remaining true to the original.


…this game has a LOT more lore and even side quests…

And much like the original, you’ll watch the credits roll somewhere between 12-15 hours.  But unlike The Callisto Protocol, this game has a LOT more lore and even side quests to be done.  Then, they know you like severing limbs, so there’s a solid new game plus cycle that let’s you keep everything and go at it again in case you must have it all.  The replayability here is far higher than you might initially expect, though that doesn’t quite make up for the $10 premium I admit.


…absolutely recommend making sure you’ve got a way to digest all the sights and sounds the game offers.

Modern gaming, modern expectations, right?  This game delivers, end of story.  The first thing I’d recommend is actually NOT using performance mode: it’s a solid 30fps; and there seems to be ray traced ambient occlusion which gives the image more contrast and better grading between light and dark (even more so in HDR!).  This gives the excellent lighting engine a chance to properly shine, and I was thoroughly impressed.  It looks like you thought it looked through nostalgia goggles, and that’s an achievement on its own.  To top this off, the sound design is expensive-home-theatre worthy, and I absolutely recommend making sure you’ve got a way to digest all the sights and sounds the game offers.  It’s properly worth it!  Unfortunately, some things still stood out to me as bugs that need some polish, like shadow and object pops here and there (these are more jarring given the near-perfect visual presentation), and the camera getting stuck several times from loading a save.  Moving into the story is also some modern changes while remaining true to the original: Isaac now has a voice.  They ensured he’s not too extreme so as to shock you out of your nostalgia, though, and I found it simply met expectations.  Sometimes, the way to do something right is to NOT make waves.  No, I won’t spoil the story, you know better!  But know that it has its proper horror twists…


Finding flaws requires a witch hunt, an angle I don’t have.

I’ll start out with it: I’m impressed.  This easily stands up there as being one of the best remakes: it dares not disturb the original.  Unlike other remakes, this isn’t a soft reboot, either: it’s a properly modern upgrade to a core classic formula and design.  You might see the letters “EA” and look for reasons to downplay or bash this remake, but you’d just be blind to the fact that they knew they needed to be faithful to people like me who revered the original.  So while there are fundamentally old designs that may turn off more modern gaming minds, anyone who has an appreciation for the era of horror this game came from is in for a truly modernized classic.  Finding flaws requires a witch hunt, an angle I don’t have.  This is truly new AND old classic Dead Space.

I give Dead Space

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