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‘Dead Space’ review: The new benchmark for video game

On contemporary systems, the recreation of a 2008 classic shines.

Isaac Clarke has the impression that the enormous monster is giving him a gory, snarling, overexcited embrace just before the neomorph pushes its arm blades into his stomach. The Dead Space remake’s core can be found in this very moment, which is caught between gruesome cruelty and a consoling hug. Playing the new Dead Space is a warm experience for a fan of the 2008 game, even with all the horror, death, and gore. Considering these elements, hell. While retaining the enchantment that made the original Dead Space a video game classic, the remake is bigger, prettier, and better than the original. Amazing game design is, it seems, always relevant.

Man, EA used to produce some excellent games. A year after the first Mass Effect and one month before Mirror’s Edge, Dead Space released at the height of EA’s golden age and forever changed the sci-fi horror genre. Dead Space was the first game to use Isaac’s suit as a health and ability meter, eliminating the need for static signs to be displayed over each scenario. The same immersion mechanism is used in the remake, combined with a pop-up inventory that doesn’t interfere with gameplay. The USG Ishi mural, the primary ship where the nightmare takes place, is home to a number of shops and upgrade benches that are all powered by credits and nodes that players discover while hacking through the creatures there.

The Ishi mural is transformed into a secret-filled labyrinth of winding metal passageways and sealed rooms in the remake. I started looking around every corner for luminous boxes to step on or flashy coins and ammo, and my exploration was frequently amply rewarded. Never get too wealthy though, as Isaac is constantly in danger of running out of ammo, stasis energy, oxygen, or health. Asset management also heightens the excitement in the game. He is constantly exposed in some way. This sensation is crucial in an action-horror game.

The plasma cutter, disc ripper, and flamethrower are all part of Isaac’s well-known collection of improvised and salvaged weaponry, albeit with some contemporary upgrades. A wall of fire rather than an exploding ball is deployed by the flamethrower’s secondary mechanism, which is an incredibly satisfying approach to fend off invading hordes. Shooting the neomorphs’ extended limbs will always be more effective than a headshot; stomping on mutant corpses still yields goodies (and any unresolved player annoyance); and the stasis ability continues to be a crucial management tool, temporarily I’m mobilizing foes. Additionally, Isaac’s ability to pick up and throw objects at any time for an endless amount of time, known as kinesis, is immensely helpful.

Isaac picks up new tools quickly, and in the battle scenes in the closed rooms, these items work well together. Although stasis, shoot, and stomp is always a viable strategy, players can approach confrontations in a variety of ways and switch methods on the fly. The landscapes include plenty of save and refill points, and ammo and health drops frequently occur just when you need them. The bloodthirsty mutant space monsters are the only thing that makes it feel like the game mechanisms are working against you in general.

The addition of zero-gravity flight is the single biggest improvement in the Dead Space remake, aside from considerable graphical upgrades. This mechanic begins the game in a way that feels true to the source material, as though this is what the devas intended to accomplish in 2008 but couldn’t because of hardware restrictions. Isaac used to jump from surface to surface in zero gravity, but now, thanks to the boosters on the bottom of his boots, he can fly and float through these scenes with ease. He is able to fire, freeze, and throw objects at opponents while flying.

In zero-G, boss battles and large-scale puzzles are dynamic, and flying significantly alters some game mechanics. It is now a frantic, no-oxygen, in-literal-space battle between Isaac and the Leviathan (a large tentacle blob), requiring a combination of kinesis, mid-flight strafing, and shooting skills. In the first Dead Space, Isaac engaged the tentacles in combat while seated in the gunner’s seat of the Ishi mural. It is undeniable that the remake does it better.

On the PlayStation 5, Dead Space is a gory and gorgeous game from beginning to end. There are no loading screens, full voice acting, longer storylines, new mechanics, and puzzles in this game (just a few suspiciously long tram rides that developers at Motive claim exist purely to increase the tension).

In my game, just a few parts were genuinely dull. I was being caught by a huge tentacle more than halfway through the game, and I was using the incorrect weapon to shoot its luminous weak spot. It took me six fatalities before I could switch firearms effectively and fire enough shots to put an end to the action. After a fun and difficult boss fight, this felt unjust and demoralizing. Dead Space is a master class in action-horror game design, despite tiny hitches like this one. I’m delighted to say that this was my biggest complaint with the remake.

This remake has a startling level of restraint: EA upgraded the correct elements in the right manner while avoiding the baggage of contemporary AAA games. Here, you won’t find procedural generation, an open environment, a method to interact with other players, or even a HUD. Instead, you’ll only have access to a small number of skills and a spaceship populated with aggressive, half-dead, long-limbed monsters.

Playing the Dead Space remake is like curling up in a warm sweater made of rotting, sick flesh and shards of razor-sharp bone. Yes, it is frightful, but in a funny way that makes you chuckle after you leap. It’s comparable to being startled by a friend or perhaps receiving a hug from a neomorph.