Dead Space is a survival horror third person shooter developed by EA Redwood Shores and published by Electronic Arts. It was first released on October 14th of 2008 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and on the 20th for PC. This game is rated Mature +17 / PEGI 18.
Here's a brief summary - In the year 2507 humanity has this planet cracking ship called the USG Ishimura which is the largest ship in its class. They use it to mine planets for valuable resources and take it back to Earth. However, something eventually goes wrong, of course everything goes to crap, it's a horror game, and the USG Ishimura sends out a distress signal to the Concordance Extraction Corporation and they dispatch the USG Kellion to investigate. Once they arrive (and when I say arrive, I mean a malfunction occurs with the automatic docking and the Kellion crashes inside; luckily the crew survives) our main protagonist steps in; Isaac Clarke.
Isaac is a ship system specialist or aka an 'engineer' who was assigned with the USG Kellion to repair the ship, but the real reason as to why he's there is because of his girlfriend Nicole, a senior medical officer is assigned to the ship. But as the crew enters the flight lounge and Isaac checks up on the Ishimura's damage reports, the place has a lock down with a quarantine and you guessed it, terrifying humanoids with a grotesque condition arrive and kill off the entire crew except two other side characters; Zach Hammond and Kendra Daniels. Those two flee, and you're left running in the hallway as those monsters try to rip you a new one. Even this isn't going to stop our senior security officer Hammond from proceeding with the mission, so he sets Isaac off to repair the entire ship. And no, our protagonist doesn't get paid after hours for doing all this.
Rule #1 in the Dead Space Universe: If you can't see a Necromorph, it's behind you.
Dead Space has a similar style of gameplay like Resident Evil 4 and perhaps Gears of War where the camera peers over the character's shoulder in a third person view. However, Isaac is not a soldier which is nice for a change since most of his weapons, like the plasma cutter for example, is used for engineering work on the ship. You'll be tasked to run around the gigantic Ishimura and mainly get the ship running again. Once you've completed fixing a problem, like getting the cannons to auto aim at incoming asteroids that can destroy the Ishimura in seconds, you'll go to the trans station to take you onto the next section of the ship. Oh yeah, and you'll have to fight waves of the infected undead known as Necromorphs. What's cool is the fact they don't stand around and just run at you, instead they hide in vents and lurk until you get close enough for them to then assault you. My favorite aspect of the Necromorphs is that they're not like the usual enemy where you need to shoot them in the head. Rather you must shoot off their limbs, because they do not need organs or the brain to function. Certain enemies are harder to dismember, some become worse if you shoot them in the wrong spot.
The mechanics in this game is astounding; I will give the game that. When you aim, the gun has a nice laser pointer that's solid but not distracting enough where it'll blur out what you need to see. There's also the fact you'll need to get good at aiming your gun for certain situations will call on that unless you want to die while being dragged into a hole, or worse. The parts that are most fun for me are the zero gravity chambers where Isaac can jump almost anywhere in the room to get where he needs to go. It actually feels like you're floating and the animation does its job well, helping to set the immersion. Not to mention there are times you'll actually venture out into space, and jump onto platforms that were once part of the Ishimura. Before I go on any further about the game, I need to advise you all about Isaac's abilities. Isaac's suit has a spinal cord looking pipe system on his back. When it's green that means Isaac is at his best. Each attack or damage Isaac takes will make it drop, the green turning to yellow, to eventually red and when empty, Isaac will die. But luckily you have med packs which fill up your health. Later on Isaac obtains the stasis ability which freezes enemies on the spot. Quite useful if you're in a small room or need to reload your ammo, or just to aim really. Oh and did you know he's a Jedi too? Getting further into the game, he'll come across a tool that shall enable him to lift objects and chuck it out of the way, or you know, throw it at Necromorphs so they'll be stunned for you to keep toying with them or just shoot them, it's really up to the player. You also have an oxygen tank in which has a timer so if you're out in space to long and the timer hits 0, Isaac will die from suffocation.
The awkward moment when you realize while you were admiring the view, there's a huge hole you need to repair.
Since this is a survival horror, you'll want to know if this game will send you sobbing like a baby, or will leave you bored of tears. The good news is that Dead Space will never fail at making you fully alert but ... if you had high hopes for this game to get you screaming loud enough to wake up your neighbors, you'll be disappointed.
Truth be told, this game isn't really scary. I may love this game, but in all honesty I can't say it'll leave you losing sleep after playing the game or making you check your air conditioner for obvious reasons. It tends to get very hooked on jump scares, which gets old quite quickly after the 8th Necromorph you've came across that's lying on the floor just wanting to snap up and bite your face off. Sure you'll be startled and might need a breather, but it's not going to keep you from using the bathroom during the night. What it will do though is make you tense throughout the game. Especially in certain rooms, you'll really be on edge with your nerves freaking out as you don't know where an enemy will come up. In fact, even in 'safe rooms' where you're buying ammo or upgrades on your armor- a Necromorph could come up and kill you right there. Trust me; nowhere is safe in the Dead Space universe.
The biggest impact this game left on me is its atmosphere. Even though some concepts and scenery remind me of System Shock 2 along the lines of Bioshock in certain areas, it's really got a unique setting all around. During the start of Dead Space, you get to see space with the sun in the background, chunks of rock floating the beautiful Ishimura itself. The game may have failed at leaving you scared but it did a fantastic job setting the tone of the game, giving you chills down the spine especially in the room with a broken down train rocking back and forth, creating shadows that will definitely get you nervous. Despite that the puzzles aren't hard at all to solve, they're still creative and actually makes sense as to why you must solve them unlike certain puzzles...looking at you Resident Evil 6. If you thought this game is fully set on having Necromorphs be the creepy factor, think again. What sells this game are the audio logs you pick up and understanding what happened behind the Ishimura before all heck broke lose. Those alone really disturbed me, and I won't even spoil what they're about. The fun is to hear it for yourself.
Oh and the noises, that there gets right under your skin. Again, the game may not haunt you after the console or PC is turned off, but certainly the sudden bumps in a vent will make you look around. I remember when first playing Dead Space, I came into a hallway that turns and suddenly a metal rod (or assuming it was a rod, can't see it for it was just the background noise) hitting the floor making me around 180 degrees aiming my gun with my heart racing. This applies to the atmosphere making it all the more dramatic when an enemy shows up unexpected and a record screeches with a high pitch noise. Good times, making me fire rapidly. After a while you overcome that fear of the noises but even so, it's still unsettling. Because you know a Necromorph is around and lurking therefore who's to say they aren't making some noise?
Not going to lie, Dead Space isn't very difficult to beat. Time and time again, you'll probably want to strangle a kitten from the aggravation of dying more than you'd like but if you're careful you can even have a lot of med packs to sell, perhaps a stock which you'll need to sell even. See, the modes on difficulty are easy, normal, hard, and impossible. Let me advise you now that easy mode is way too easy. You're even tougher then The Punisher with the amount of damage Isaac could receive and shrug off. He's practically invincible, especially near the end of the game with amount of credits and ammo you pick up like candy given to a kid, perhaps too much which is bad. Normal mode is not easy, but it's still not difficult. Enemies hit harder, items aren't given out like candy and you'll earn less credits but it's manageable.
Hard mode is where you'll like the game to be at. The Necromorphs are actually threatening, items aren't given every time an enemy dies now, and you're going to have to spend your credits wisely. But no matter what mode you beat the game on, you'll unlock a mode called "Impossible Mode". This is for the pros that want a challenge, and trust me it's quite a feat. Even the weakest enemies can take half your health with an attack, items are scarce when you need them, and even when you get them, they're only in the smallest packages which isn't much to rely on. Strategy and timing your stasis along with melee attacks will get you through this difficulty. I personally loved impossible mode for it got my nerves going, along the fact I could really get screwed over if I wasn't watching my ammo count.
That large yellow organic orb-like blob on the tentacle is obviously not the weak spot.
For the most part, this third person shooter has some originality to it. For instance, our protagonist is an engineer who kills space zombies while trying to find his girlfriend who happens to serve the ship. Quite creative, no? The zero gravity concept is also original, and perhaps the most original aspect in any game, with you leaping off surfaces to reach the next one. Some guns are quite original, like the plasma cutter and remote control ripper which you control a spinning saw that floats and cuts enemies like they were made of paper are without a doubt new to most players.
Regardless that this game means a lot to me, I won't ignore the faults. It's plot, if not outlook on the story, is very similar to most SciFi horror flicks and games like Alien, Night of the Living Dead, The Thing, Doom 3, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Resident Evil, Species, Scanners and so on, you get where I'm going with this. They all follow the same formula; massive invasion of deadly unknowns ranging from zombies to aliens, or monsters in general and the protagonists are trying to survive the apocalypse. It's hard to get such an original story these days but Dead Space does a fine job not being too similar to a particular movie or game. The closest it comes close to is The Thing only because the 'Thing' is a deformed alien that has the same features as a Necromorph. People even state that the Necromorphs originated off The Thing and I would have to agree, who wouldn't want to have such wicked looking humanoids in your game?
Although I stated that the game pulls off being its own series without resembling anything else to much, it also falls into the trap of what I like to call, "Plot Escalation Syndrome" where the story starts off small, mainly targeting an event or small sequence only for it to lead up to a 'the world is doomed, humanity is in danger' scenario later on. It tends to happen a lot, and the reason being movies/games/stories have this is because we feel the bigger the threat, the more we'll be drawn in. That isn't true and though I won't spoil why I brought up that point, Isaac's motivation is a bit unclear near the end which conflicts with the whole purpose as to why he stayed on the Ishimura to repair it. Then again when your protagonist is silent the whole game and he's looking for his girlfriend, you have to wonder what Nicole saw in Isaac for them to be a couple.
"Become an engineer in space Nicole says, it'd be so much fun she says."
Quality, graphics, and the game's style is all brilliantly done, so no faults there. The plot is a bit screwy, but acceptable and even done where it's likable. The scare factor is slim to not being scary at all yet it pays off by being very creepy so no harm there. The gameplay is solid with a variety of ways offered to you as how to kill the Necromorphs you see before you and the tone of this game settles with the rating so you get all the gore and disturbing moments you could possibly want. Unfair criticism? Nah, it needs to be put in its place. As one man said beforehand, "If you love a game very much, you have a right to get on it like any parent would for their misbehaving child."
Justifying the scare factor is one thing since some of us can actually feel the fear rising in us as we play further into it, but no one can try defending my next point in Dead Space's flaw; character development is seriously lacking in Dead Space. We're given a lot of promise as to how Nicole will end up whether she's alive, dead or other, and how our protagonist will handle that in the meantime, yet we get no emotional feedback from Isaac throughout the game. It's no spoiler, for he never speaks but the worst part is he doesn't show signs of morals or even having his own personality. He's a hollow shell, mainly for you to use in tearing down the Necromorphs and getting things back online, yet we never get attached to Isaac ether way. He might as well been a soldier who grunts and gives little to no sympathy over the lives lost in the Ishimura since he's just doing his job. Also we get no backstory or memories of Nicole so she's pretty much Princess Peach who no one can care about her, except the fact everyone's wondering what has become of her.
No matter the flaws, no matter how disappointing the scare factor was, Dead Space was a magnificent experience for me. It's memorable, it is top notch in making me feel like I'm in a survival horror in space, there are countless times I did feel the hairs on the back of my neck rose and how amazing the game preformed overall never being buggy or crashing on me. If EA ever did anything right, it was making this game a reality for us gamers to play. Not only was it fun, it was exciting, thrilling, got you thinking sometimes but in the end it's an epic game which won a lot of awards mainly due to audio sounds and best atmosphere.
I proudly give Dead Space the final verdict an-
What? You expected me to give it a 10/10 because it's my favorite game that tops Skyrim? I'm not like those
corrupted judges who gets paid under the table judges who favor a game being bias about concepts and denying the faults. Dead Space is still a terrific game, and if it was just scarier without relying too heavily on the jump scares while concentrating on character development, I think I really could have given this game a 10/10 or least 9.5/10. But really, if you feel alright with the game being a letdown in scariness then you'll have a blast with Dead Space and I highly suggest you buy this game as soon as possible. It's also available on Steam so you have no excuses, people.
My thanks goes to Sassafrass
for proofreading my Dead Space review and helping me improve.