Visceral Games (RIP) shocked the video game world with the 2008 survival horror game Dead Space. Fast forward to 2023, and EA Motive has revived the game with a reimagining that gamers are calling a contender for Game of The Year.
Loading up the original Dead Space game right now, you will see how well it continues to age, which is a feat.
So there wasn’t an immediate need (outside of calls from hardcore fans) to remake the game, but here we are. Gone are the original development team who brought us the interstellar survival horror game, who went on to form a new studio and made a spiritual successor to Dead Space with The Callisto Protocol.
Taking over the reins is EA Motive, the studio behind the excellent Star Wars: Squadrons, who set out to rebuild the game from the ground up, delivering the definitive way to play Dead Space.
A Quick Refresher On The Horror
In Dead Space, the story centers around Isaac Clarke, an engineer who will have to become a badass out of sheer survival when thrown into a mess that threatens to wipe out all humanity.
Clarke is part of a small team that answers a distress call from the USG Ishimura, a massive mining ship that travels into deep space “cracking” planets for precious minerals to help humanity back on Earth, which is a hot ass mess at the moment.
From the start of their mission, everything goes wrong. The team quickly learns that the Ishimura is overrun with aggressive alien creatures called Necromorphs, a direct product of the reanimated corpses of dead crew members.
On top of trying to stay alive, Isaac and his crew must unravel a conspiracy involving a crazy-ass cult that worships a mysterious artifact called The Marker and find Isaac’s missing boo, Nicole, a doctor who took a job on the ship.
Traveling Through The Ishamura Is Scarier Than Ever
Now that we’re all caught up, those who hold the original game in high regard will be happy to see the original story in the remake remains intact, with some key factors getting touch-ups. Also, certain portions are further expanded to include information and developments established by sequels and other lore.
Fear not if you’re worried about changes, like side characters getting more background information negatively impacting the story. That is not the case here.
Another added touch is giving Isaac a voice this time around. In the original game, the character was voiceless outside of the grunts he made, and now fans will be happy to learn that the same guy who voiced the character in the sequel games is back.
Those familiar with the Ishamura’s level layout in the original game will find the map has not changed much. However, the scares are still as random as ever, and you will have no idea where a Necromorph will jump out at you, thanks to what EA Motive calls the “Intensity Director.”
Combined with Ishamura’s confined hallways, walkways, and scary good sound design, the “Intensity Director” dynamically adjusts what Isaac will encounter.
Players can now revisit areas of the Ishamura to complete newly added side quest missions that further enhance the story. This will give Necromorphs the jump on you the second time you visit an area you cleared or didn’t experience any threats.
Cutting off Their Limbs Feels Better Than Ever
The original Dead Space was already unique, thanks to how you had to take out Necromorphs. Unlike the Resident Evil franchise, where aiming for the head was vital in dealing severe damage to zombies and other enemies, the Necromorphs require a different approach.
When Isaac gets his hand on the trusty Plasma Cutter, a message written in blood instructs him to “cut off their limbs.”
EA Motive takes an already fantastic feature and makes it look better with the new “peeling system” that showcases the damage Necromorphs endure as you shoot them.
Skin now peels off the fleshy creatures, and the animation as the limbs come off looks stunning. Playing on the PS5 using the DualSense Controller further enhances the feeling of dishing out damage to scary enemies.
Using the kinetic feature also feels fantastic, as Isaas will use either poles or even the Necromorph’s limbs to impale the creatures feels so satisfying and allows you to save precious ammo.
Somehow, EA Motive took an already excellent game and made it perfect. The Ishamura, an already terrifying location, looks and feels even more frightening than ever thanks to impressive lighting and sound, turning the derelict ship into a beautiful nightmare.
Throughout the playthrough, you can’t help but feel as if something is lurking behind you, above you in the Ishamura’s vents, or just breathing down your neck. EA Motive perfectly leveled up the original game’s tense atmosphere and took it to another level by utilizing the PS5’s powerful new hardware.
Dead Space’s story is taken to another level thanks to the addition of the side quests and side characters getting more background stories. The updated rig system is fantastic, and we have to add how terrifying it is when one of your crew members contacts you through it.
Even after you power through the first run that will have you taking breaks and saving often, chances are high you will jump right back into the New Game+ mode with a fully-powered-up Isaac to unlock that secret ending and uncover even more secrets you have missed.
It’s a rare occasion when a remake of an already highly praised game is in the discussion for Game of The Year, but if the Dead Space remake is not on your list, you’re most definitely playing yourself.
This game is a masterpiece!
Photo: EA Motive / Dead Space
*Review key for Dead Space on PS5 provided for use by EA Motive*