I admit, initially I wasn’t too pumped about Dead Space. I honestly thought it was just going to be some cheap Doom or Resident Evil rip-off, just another generic game borrowing concepts from other series in hopes of making a quick buck. I was dead (get it?) wrong, Dead Space is an amazing game that will go down as one of my favorites in 2008. Every fan of the survival horror genre should pick this one up, it’s definitely worth it.
In the game you control Isaac, one member of a repair crew sent to investigate the Ishimura (a massive space ship) and determine why communication has been lost with the ship. Once inside, things rapidly go downhill as it seems every one on the ship is either dead, insane, or turned into a horrible monster with an insatiable love of human flesh. From that point on it’s basically Isaac’s job to kill tons of bad guys and fix everything that’s wrong on the ship.
Dead Space is primarily a survival horror game and certain aspects remind me a lot of the Resident Evil series. You control Isaac via 3rd person view. Along the way you’ll have to manage your inventory a lot (Isaac can only carry so much, so you have decide if you want to hold the extra ammo or more health), buy new weapons, and you also have the ability to upgrade existing weapons to increase their firepower/capacity/reload time/etc. There are also some aspects that remind me of Bioshock, such as advancing the plot by audio and video tapes you find along the way. You can definitely see that different games influenced certain aspects of Dead Space and, most importantly, I feel like all the different aspects come together well.
The game is pretty scary, too. Dead Space’s various environments are extremely well done, the designs are amazing. Combined with amazing lighting effects and various other conditions allowed the designers to really create a genuinely scary atmosphere. Also, the sound is spectacular, with faint whispers in the background and clanging sounds in the distance constantly keeping you on edge, just waiting for some monster to jump out at you. Flickering lights, fog, computers along the walls beeping, debris clanging down a metal staircase, it all adds up to really make the ship feel real. There are little details, too, such as having absolutely no sound when you go in to a vacuum (and, to my dismay on one particular occasion, flame throwers don’t work in a vacuum, either. Who knew?) that really add to the overall experience.
No HUD – Instead of displaying a health bar, ammo count, or anything else across the sides of the screen, Dead Space displays all your health and power functions on the back of Isaac’s suit. Ammo count is actually shown on the gun you’re holding. It’s a pretty creative and more immersive way to show all the information.
Graphics – Dead Space’s graphics are simply amazing. Every thing in the environment looks so well done, and the graphics engines allows for some amazing lighting effects and various other conditions (fog in one room, for example) that really set the stage well.
Sound – The sound design in the game is great, it creates a truly eerie atmosphere. Some of the effects, such as the lack (or very minimal) of sound while in a vacuum really add to the experience nicely.
It scared me – A lot. I’ve walked in to many rooms, seen an enemy on the ground and assumed it was dead, or I had already come this way and killed before. Once I got close, the thing jumped up and started attacking me. And scared the shit out of me. I think I did that maybe twice before deciding to shoot bodies on the ground in any new room I entered. I was constantly on edge…I knew something was going to happen sooner or later, you just don’t know what or from where.
Also, note Dead Space has the coolest “Where do I go now” functions. You press one button and a line is drawn along the ground showing you which way to go, saving me precious time trying to figure out where the hell I had to go.
Not So Awesome:
The controls – They’re just too complex. If I played the game the previous day, I sometimes forgot the next day how to do certain things (such as how to jump in zero gravity). There are a lot of various button combinations to do certain tasks that just aren’t easy to remember, or do different things depending on the situation (X to heal, right trigger plus X to slow down time).
It’s short – Sure, there is replayability, but it’s only around 15 hours or so long, which stinks, I honestly wish it could have been longer.
Note: This review is on the Xbox 360 version of the game.