Dragon’s Den Halloween Month: Dead Space
Definitely sets a Marker in its Genre
This year marks the sixth anniversary of Dead Space’s U.S. release of October 13, 2008. So in honor of this year’s special Halloween month, what better way to celebrate than to play the game that made the survival horror genre more modern and look at what made the game great, along with other aspects that could have been improved. Just like with The Last of Us, this review will be based off two playthroughs of Dead Space with a New Game+ for the Playstation 3
The story begins with Issac Clarke sitting back whilst watching a video of his girlfriend speaking to him as he and his team fly up to an even larger space ship in attempt to repair it and send it on its way. The larger ship, known as the Ishimura, is called the “Planet Cracker”. What this means is that the Ishimura is specialized in taking asteroids and planets, and drilling them to excavate the various minerals and resources. But something happened to the ship to cause it to break down and Issac and his team is sent off to repair the problem. As you arrive in the Ishimura, you’re quickly beginning to see more problems than what was previously thought as you spot bloodstains along the floor and walls. When you walk into a room to turn on a control panel, you are locked in alone as you bear witness to the lights flickering and a disfigured creature comes out of the vents and murders everyone in your team but two people. Along the travels you find that most of the employees were involved with a religion known as Unitology where they worship an item called the “Marker”. With all of the death and chaos, the traumatic experiences cause any survivors to go insane but at the same time, not threatening you at all save for one person. After this, it becomes less of a repair mission and more of a rescue and escape mission after the ship you arrive in is destroyed.
The graphics of Dead Space shows that it was released in 2008. I say this because the character models look nice until you see the faces of which look, for lack of a better word, like plastic. The voice acting is well done and you can at least see the emotion in Issac’s face at time, but the majority it just seems awkward for the most part. The settings inside and outside of the Ishimura is beautiful and haunting. You can travel through barely lit halls and rooms with warnings written in blood, to a near constant fog in every room that really gives that oppressive atmosphere. Not only are the enemies a threat, but your surroundings could be an obstacle if you’re not careful. There are pieces of the floor exposed with a compressed force that will shoot you into the ceiling and dismember you if you happen to make a wrong step. You could run into the engine room without proper protection and burn alive, to even Zero-G sections with spiked plating aligning the walls. There’s only select areas that I would question if I were an engineer for such a large ship. For example, why is there not a more safe route when you need to go from point A to point B in the engine rooms and not risk burning yourself? Areas with and without Zero-G, I wondered what the purpose of having walls aligned with spikes that could easily kill anyone that wasn’t in danger of Necromorphs.
The Necromorphs themselves offer a nice tweak to the zombie formula as well. Instead of being mindless flesh-eating creatures, they will hunt for you mercilessly until you’re able to put them down. It even gives a variation to the Necromorph that I appreciate and keeps each battle fresh as you must keep track of each type and the best way to take them out. It starts with the standard grotesque humanoid creature that uses spiked limbs to impale and infect you, to a smaller version that will cling to walls and shoot you with spikes from a distance, to the “Lurker” type whose sole purpose is to find bodies with limbs and turn them into even more Necromorphs which could make previous encounters even tougher if they’re left unchecked. From beginning to end, I had times in both playthroughs where these enemies would frighten me whenever they would sneak up and grapple me in their attempts to end my life.
The gameplay consists of you following right behind Issac in the third-person camera as you travel from area to area to repair the various broken parts of the Ishimura in your attempt to find Nicole and escape before dying with your arsenal of weapons you find. You’re given the Plasma Cutter at the start and it’s very useful for dismembering the Necromorphs. Instead of the standard head shot, Necromorphs require that you cut off their limbs or else they will just continue walking or crawling toward you in attempts to infect you. Along your travels of the Ishimura, you’re given many weapons both tools and military grade to offer protection against the enemies along with the limited power to slow down enemies and obstacles alike if you wished to make an easier target or to just run past if need be. To make things better in your favor, you’re also given the option to upgrade your weapons and armor through Power Nodes that you either find or buy in the store, giving the feeling of growth as you’re giving a better fighting chance against the enemies. If there was something I could remove from the game entirely, it would be the two turret sections in which you must protect the ship from obstacles as the cannon itself is not very accurate despite the laser “helping”. You’re given two cannons but they can’t be used in long increments due to overheating which just makes it more efficient to only use one as it will rarely overheat.
Lastly, the trophies can be fairly easy to obtain. You’ll earn most of them just by going through the story and using the various weapons. You can easily upgrade your arsenal on the second play through as long as you’re also going for the “One Gun” trophy as you can just sell any excess ammo and use the funds to purchase more Power Nodes. Impossible Difficulty won’t be a problem as long as you are aware of your surroundings and you can keep a good aim for the right limbs along with good money managing. The rest of the trophies can be fun as they consist of jumping in Zero-G a number a times, completing Zero-G Basketball, getting a perfect score at the shooting gallery (which supplies unlimited ammo for the game), to finding the hidden item “Peng” that can only be obtained in chapter 11. The hardest trophy I found is the “Don’t get Cocky, Kid” in which you must go through the entire first turret section and keep the hull durability above fifty percent. Besides that, this can be an easy and enjoyable platinum to obtain and add to your collection.
The concept alone is what pulled me into this game as it brought one thing I love into a genre I wasn’t fond of at all. I love just about anything that has to do with zombies and I liked the idea of having this in a confined spaceship where no outside help could come and save you. It’s funny to think that I didn’t like the survival horror genre but enjoyed zombies so much. It’s even funnier to think that this was the first game in the survival horror genre I had played in eleven years due to another game that had frightened me to the point I stayed away from anything horror related for so long. With that said, what better way was there than to start the game that made this genre more modern than Dead Space. If you like space, survival horror, or even zombies as much as I do, this is definitely a title that earns a space on your shelf.
+Issac Clarke is Great -Turret Sections
+Various Weapons -“Plastic” Looking Faces
+Variants to Necromorphs
+Feeling of Growth