When a remake is introduced, I often wonder, “Why?” Why not submit a plot of the series? Why remake something that doesn’t necessarily need? Why not create instead of duplicating it? Dead Space has been stuck in limbo ever since Dead Space 3 was released in 2013. In some ways, the remake is even worse than a prequel. At least it adds some premise to the story, even if it’s in the wrong section. The remake simply does not add anything.
After playing Dead Space, I realized how wrong I was. The remake could be so much more than the foundation on which it was built. In the right hands, in this case, Motive’s, a remake can keep everything beloved about the original artwork and upgrade it with modern mechanics, graphics, and sensibilities. The new version can show you pieces you didn’t realize were missing.
The greatest horror is rooted in grief. Isaac Clark is a man on a mission to save the woman he loves after he arrives aboard the ship he serves, the USG Ishimura, for repairs. It is soon revealed that the ship is full of monsters with a tendency to kill everyone they see and brazenly never die themselves.
As Isaac makes his way through the ship, restoring critical systems and navigating from one emergency to the next, it becomes clear that something worse than monsters has happened here. Something sinister reigns in the walls.
Dead Space had and still has psychological horror as much as body horror. It has something for everyone, whether they are fans of gore, jump scares, subtle dreads, or twisted visuals. The player and their avatar take Isaac Clarke and slowly twist what they see, turning Isaac into an unreliable narrator. It’s a slow, gradual process and it works beautifully. We see a broken man, but we are convinced that what he sees and experiences is the truth.
Aside from the immediate narration of what happens in the game, Dead Space creates a rich world of knowledge with Markers, Unitologists, Altman, and more. It worked wonders for the original trilogy and after reviewing the remake, I hope Motive continues the masterpiece that was Dead Space 2 and then fixes the mess that was Dead Space 3. This franchise is very dear to me, and seeing a new studio appreciate it in the same way that Lift Your business.
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Visuals and performance
On PlayStation 5, Dead Space ran and sounded like a dream. There was an option for a Performance Mode that would adjust the resolution and more to keep the game running at 60fps, but even with it turned off I didn’t notice any frame drops or resolution loss while running at 1440p. So, without any noticeable hiccups, I chose to make Dead Space as beautiful as the PlayStation 5.
The horrifying detail in the necromorphs with their warped and twisted bodies is exactly what I imagined when I was playing through the 2008 original. Issac’s suit becomes full of cool accessories, subtle paintings, and more with every RIG upgrade. That is, unless you ordered the deluxe edition, fitted a 2008 suit, and spent a few seasons wondering why Isaac lacked stature.
Even with the cluttered environments, objects floating through the zero-gravity sections, and ominous corpses littering the Ishimura, everything ran smoothly. There was no stutter, crash, or mishap during our 13-hour gameplay.
Maybe it’s all nostalgia talking about, but the Dead Space remake plays exactly how I remember playing the original. Everything from how Isaac scrolls to how Kinesis works felt like wearing an old familiar pair of gloves. Or I suppose it was more like riding a bike. Whatever the measurement, if you were familiar with the original trilogy, you’ll feel right at home with the remake.
One notable improvement is the zero gravity sections. It was only natural to slip into flight mode and navigate Ishimura’s confusing spaces. This was a struggle originally and something Motive clearly figured out.
Otherwise, it hits everything here. With his trusty plasma cutter on hand, Isaac is more than equipped to deal with the horrors that inhabit the Ishimura’s haunted corridors. Shooting a leg or arm and then moving to the stomp to finish it off quickly becomes second nature. Throw in some Kinesis for a bit of versatility in killing shapeshifters, and there’s no shortage of creative ways Isaac can dispatch his enemies.
Puzzles form the core of Dead Space’s activities and drive the narrative forward. Ishimura is severely disabled for reasons that are not clear until the later parts of the game. It is up to Isaac to restore vital systems to keep the ship in orbit and to produce life-saving oxygen. Each section of the ship forms a chapter and gives the game a natural flow and a reason for Isaac to do different things.
The puzzles themselves are not very difficult. Players will not sit there in frustration like they would if they were playing Portal. In the same vein, it is not easy for players to navigate through it. The mechanics are engaging, make sense, and build on the systems and tools available to players.
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The Dead Space edition sticks to the original. There are several difficulty options available to cater to all skill sets. Those who simply want to experience the story and not worry about getting killed are totally able to. On the other end of the spectrum is the Insanity difficulty, which will push Isaac to his limits and relegate players to a lower difficulty if they die once.
Otherwise, players can take advantage of the New Game + option and work their way up the difficulty levels. This allows them to conquer the game like a mountain, one step at a time. Use clever design that changes what necromorphs spawn and where gameplay isn’t the same.
Systems like these made Resident Evil wildly popular and will keep Dead Space in the zeitgeist for longer than Callisto Protocol. Allow players to explore at their own pace and rotate their progress from game to game, and not only will they play longer on that initial run, but they’ll also be more likely to come back.
Judgment – The King Returns
I was nervous when the Dead Space remake was announced. When it was released, it sounded like a cult hit. Sure, it worked, but horror titles don’t make headlines in the same way that games like Call of Duty do. Then the second one came out and expanded on everything I loved in the original. Finally, EA got greedy and tried to turn the series into something that Dead Space 3 wasn’t and that may have killed the series so far.
After 15 years, Motive has taken it over and totally knocked it out of the park. This new version stirred up all those nostalgic feelings I was hoping for. It also introduced new content, such as reasoning side quests, gave Isaac a voice, and explained his background without feeling forced.
Whether this is a return trip to USG Ishimura or your first visit, you are bound to have a great time. Aside from an amazing trip down memory lane, it taught me that not all remakes have to be bad. Sometimes, they can provide an experience that you never knew was missing.
For more Dead Space goodies, check out How to Fix Dead Space Recreation Stutter on PC on Pro Game Guides.