author: Giancarlo Saldana
Dead Space Remake Review: Scarier Tactics
15 years later, Dead Space Remake is back to give fans and newcomers second thoughts before going on any space mission. Scarier, prettier, but still the game you remember it—see if you can survive this horror.
Ever notice most game remakes are of games that were good if not great when they first came out? The Last of Us, Resident Evil, Ocarina of Time—these remakes enhance the original experience with better visuals, quality-of-life improvements, and a few additional touches that make it better than the original. They give a new audience access to a game they may have originally missed and treat fans with updates they didn’t know they needed.
- Enhanced sensory elements that further scare you away but invite you back in;
- An Intensity Detector that makes the scares unpredictable;
- Quality-of-life improvements to the original.
- A handful of repetitive quests that have you backtracking a lot.
Thus is the case for Dead Space Remake, a 2008 survival horror that launched a thrilling series that made the phrase “In space, no one can hear you scream” all the more real. This remake offers updates to the original that simply augment the feeling of fear all around you and make every moment of your experience aboard the doomed spaceship more menacing than ever. Sure, it’s not necessary, but it’s another example of a remake done right.
The original Dead Space follows the plight of a group of astronauts stranded aboard a giant spaceship called the USG Ishimura that is also plagued by these grotesque monsters called Necromorphs. One of the team’s engineers, Isaac Clarke, is separated from the others and is entrusted in finding a way off the ship but in doing so discovers the truth behind this outbreak and the threat looking to destroy humanity.
If you played the original, the story is exactly the same here, but new lines, a voiced protagonist, and an enhanced auditory experience bring the game to par with current horror games and improve the overall feeling of dread inside the creaking walls of the Ishimura. Headphones are your friend here (or your drug) as there is nothing like entering a room, hearing wailing from the distance, and then hearing the sound get closer and closer only to realize there is a murderous creature just a few feet away from you. Even just hearing Clarke grunt and catch his breath after outrunning a group of Slashers when you need to refill your ammo makes the experience feel more raw and real.
Dark hallways, screams in the distance, and blood splatters on the wall may not seem inviting, but Dead Space Remake manages to create an alluring adventure throughout your playthrough, even if you played it already 15 years ago.
Dead Space is a game about exploring your environment and completing objectives that will get you one step closer to escaping and going back home. So because this is a survival horror—emphasis on horror—there are multiple times the game will try to freak you out. The original did this ever so skillfully by having enemies plop in from the ceiling during certain sequences or by including moments where the lights go out, putting you in defensive mode. These are common and even predictable for the genre, but the difference here is that the remake also organically creates these moments of dread when you least expect them.
To add to the scares, Motive created an “Intensity Detector” that essentially tracks how you traverse through the game to always keep you scared. It sounds cruel when you think about, but it actually works beautifully to keep the game intuitive and always interesting. For example, an enemy won’t always spawn after you hear a vent breaking in the distance and fog won’t always appear out of nowhere during the same scene after you die and load up your save file. Even save rooms, where you think you are safe, can sometimes be infiltrated by Necromorphs chasing after you from another room. Adding these randomized effects to your journey without feeling too random creates a beautifully varied feeling of dread throughout your 10-12-hour playthrough.
Visually, the game also just looks creepier and further complements the Ishimura’s tenebrous atmosphere. Improved lighting effects and even just the way fleshy surfaces glisten in certain angles bring it all together. If you thought the Necromorphs were freakishly-looking already, you will see them differently when they are right up next to your face trying to, well, eat your face. Improved graphics also play a role in combat as shooting at enemies now can break off pieces of their flesh and bones. Yes, you still have to aim for their limbs to cut them off, but if you miss—which is understandable considering the circumstances—your bullets will give you a false sense that they are doing damage, which in a game like this one, further adds to your desperation.
Other enhancements also simply improve how the game plays and relieve some of the frustration the original saw. Your controls feel tight at all times, and your stomps and melee attacks are now more precise when you want them to be. Zero gravity zones are more fun to navigate as you can freely swim around them without getting the camera stuck all the time like before. Even the map has received a 3D makeover and your locator has a better sense of direction pointing you towards your next destination.
At its core, the game is structured like the original so expect to complete familiar objectives aboard the ship in order to see the story play out. Some areas are more interesting than others, and you will still need to backtrack a few times after receiving security clearance to explore new zones. This makes the Ishimura, a supposed giant mining ship, feel small at times since you will be revisiting rooms often to make your way to new areas. Still, the improved sensory updates that try to randomize some of the scares also work in creating an ever-shifting environment despite you running through the same room for the third time.
The team at Motive knows what worked in the original so they haven’t changed things too much that it will feel like a brand new experience. You can see the original’s old bones at times when completing some “fetchy” quests that still feel repetitive, but the remake’s improved horror elements will keep you entertained long enough to finish them off and move onto the more interesting parts of the story.
Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.
Dark hallways, screams in the distance, and blood splatters on the wall may not seem inviting, but Dead Space manages to create an alluring adventure throughout your playthrough, even if you played it already 15 years ago. Sure, the original can still stand on its own even today, but this labor of love is just as impressive if not scarier than the original. And for a horror game, scarier is always better.
Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com