Dead Space remake reanimates a classic game, making it more difficult to put down than a Necromorph – Review
Space zombies are as frightening as ever.
When I was younger, the original Dead Space game in 2008 set the watermark of proper gameplay horror. A decade and a half later, the remake of Dead Space is a phenomenal retelling of the horrific events that transpired aboard the USG Ishimura with the unlikely hero, Isaac Clarke. Recreated by Motive Studio in the Frostbite engine, Dead Space in 2023 is precisely what you’d expect it to be from top to bottom, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The remake is an excellent way to replay Dead Space for any fan who wants to go through that terrifying experience again, but with a slew of modern settings and a handful of deadly twists that only enrich the experience. For those who haven’t played the original game, it’s a wild science fiction adventure that pits Isaac against a ship full of bloodthirsty zombies known as Necromorphs that don’t let you rest for a second. Even when you think you’re safe, think again.
Returning of the USG Ishimura
The plot of Dead Space is relatively cut and dry, and Motive Studio does nothing to try and alter from the original version, which is greatly appreciated. The remake is a faithful ground-up recreation and retelling of the original game with solid acting and higher-quality graphics that keep tensions high.
The missions and exploration of the Ishimura are what you’d expect in Dead Space, with a precise breakdown of specific tasks and a helpful tracker to point you in the right direction. Dead Space series veterans will encounter a familiar tale, whereas newcomers can sit back and enjoy the linear trip by Motive, who is not trying to break any ground on an enjoyable adventure from 2008.
Motive Studio does an excellent job at ramping up everything in between that plot and general exploration of the gruesome Ishimura. The sights, sounds, and hungry Necromorphs scrapping around the ship are eager to jump out at you, but none of this relies on the predictability of jump scares. Instead, these scares are well-earned because even the faintest sound can turn into a deadly encounter if you’re not paying attention, which is easy when you’re busy working on several tasks to advance your missions.
Every step could be your last
What makes this remake engaging to experience is the layers added to the background atmosphere and the environment while exploring the Ishimura. These occur in unison with the Intensity Detector, a monitoring system that dictates the level of scares a player goes through while working through Dead Space. The Intensity Detector is a program that places in the type of encounters, sounds, and environmental effects shown while playing the game. For example, if I was attacked in the last room you were in, the next room might have similar sounds, with flicking lights but no monsters for you to fight. Not until I rounded the corner was there a Necromorph who might tear through one of the many vents, eager to rip me apart.
I experienced the game with headphones and speakers, and although the speakers worked fine, encountering these effects with headphones really hits all the subtle notes the sound team weaves into the game happening in the background. It makes for a much more satisfyingly eerie experience that is never the same twice. When I loaded the game’s introduction again, the encounters were different, which kept me on edge even more than knowing the Necromorphs were on the ship.
Walking through a blood-filled corridor has a new terror. The sounds of the ship creaking, lights flicking, and general disturbances make every step I took feel tense, eager to begin frantically aiming at the next horrifically mutated limb on a Necromorph and stop them in their tracks. I lost track of how many times I mindlessly worked on a task, having heard some background metal squeaking or a pipe breaking, only to find it led to another encounter with a sneaky Necromorph.
For a bunch of undead monstrosities eager to rip people in half, they’re far quieter than I remember them being. It led to the genuine muttering of, “Everything’s fine, everything’s fine,” followed by, “Oh god no, it’s not!” before frantically cutting off the limbs of Necromorph and stomping the dead body for good measure. It has not been a calm experience, but an exciting one with immensely fulfilling and fatal combat encounters.
Replaying in beautifully dim light
Exploring the blood-ridden halls of the Ishimura was never easy, but it was beautiful from a sickly, twisted perspective. Waiting around any corner could be another Necromorph threat, but it never stopped me from pausing to enjoy the beautifully improved graphics developers painstakingly worked hard to recreate. It sold the horror setting much harder, and the graphical differences from the original game truly stand out.
There were a handful of hiccups I encountered during my playthrough. Every so often, loading into an area caused a floor not to appear, taking a few seconds to populate before I could step off an elevator. There were also a few instances where Isaac would not appear, and I’d only see the weapon floating in the air. These issues did not stick around for long, nor did they cause a frustrating death or become game-breaking, thankfully.
Technical blemishes were few and far between, not all over the place, but they were consistent. The Dead Space remake likely could have used a bit more time being polished to buff out these small issues. These minor details can be easily worked on and smoothed out in future patches.
The Dead Space remake is a wonderful reminder of why the original 2008 game was fantastic. The story genuinely makes you feel helpless, and the constant escalation throughout the plotline is exciting, with devilishly increasing numbers of enemies chasing after Isaac in constantly dire situations.
The exciting random encounter system makes the run-of-the-mill exploration the true star of the show for this remake, alongside the gorgeous graphical presentation. Although there are a few graphical hitches, the overall experience was fantastic and every bit terrifying that Dead Space fans have been waiting to experience once again.
8.5 / 10
|+||Exciting random encounters that make this remake highly replayable — safety was never an option|
|+||A genuinely exciting remake that makes returning to this game a must for any Dead Space fan|
|+||Gorgeous, modern graphics on a landmark 2008 game|
|–||A handful of graphical hiccups caused a handful of issues|
|–||Could use a bit more polish to rough out some technical edges|