EA Motive has really knocked the Dead Space remake out of the park and into deep space. It's a triumph in modern survival horror whilst honoring and improving the original 2008 version in every way. The game does so much right that to find any critique is as hard as beating the game’s impossible mode.
Dead Space sees you play as Isaac Clark, a systems engineer with no combat experience, who winds up having to use mining tools to dismember super undead called Necromorphs, aboard a planet-cracking spacecraft called the USG Ishimura. If it was tense back in 2008, the remake cranks the horror and stress to universal heights, but there are some improvements that could push the game further.
10 Map Waypoints
It was a stress-inducing joy to trek back through the steel corridors of the giant ship, the USG Ishimura, with a stunning lick of remake paint. It’s a big space station, complete with its own tram line, so thank goodness we’re given a map to navigate the place. Sadly, the map is really only good for showing you where you are.
If you want to return to the ship's many rooms, you’ll have to use the map the old-fashioned way. There is no way to set useful waypoints and since there are multiple floors, it can be confusing to try and get back to a room you now have security clearance for. A waypoint system should just be mandatory for any game that uses a map for traversing large locations.
9 Let’s See Isaac’s Face More
Isaac is a fully realized and voiced character in the remake, which didn’t happen in the Dead Space series until the sequels. The devs have done an incredible job on his character, giving him a detailed “everyman” look befitting of an engineer who knows his stuff. It's just a pity all that character work is masked half the time by the suit he wears.
Isaac’s RIG suit and helmet are both iconic looks. However, during cutscenes, it would have been a welcome addition to see more of Isaac’s facial expressions as he deals with increasingly horrific odds. Even with the mask on, Isaac’s mannerisms do little to show emotion during certain grave situations – perhaps inspiration taken from the TV series The Mandalorian could have proved a masked character can still elicit recognizable emotions.
8 Useful Rewards For Completing Side Objectives
Side objectives make for a curious diversion from the main goal of getting the hell off the ship. They often shine a light on the game's interesting lore, and one side quest increases your security level to allow access to bountiful rooms. The other side objectives could have benefited from equally satisfying rewards.
Even a credit boost would have been enough incentive to really go for completing these. The side story stuff is well written and is worth exploring, but don’t expect any cool new gear tied to completing these.
7 Make All Weapons Just As Good As The Plasma Cutter
The plasma cutter is the first and only weapon you really need to chop up every nasty in your path. There's even an achievement/trophy to beat the game using just that tool. Its effectiveness outshines the rest of the weapon roster by a large margin, which is good and slightly bad.
The remake could have been EA’s opportunity to nerf the feel of the other guns to make them way beefier. The flamethrower and force gun, at least un-upgraded, are likely to end up immediately in storage the moment you realize just how unhelpful they are in comparison. Although nerfing the plasma cutter could have been a major mistake, the other mining tools still pale in comparison to its might, leaving your combat options limited and possibly boring.
6 Adding New Things To Shake Things Up
To many survival horror fans, the Resident Evil series sets the bar on how to make a successful remake. The Resident Evil remakes not only masterfully captured what made the originals great but added new things, such as defensive items, that worked. Dead Space remake plays it safe and ops for faithful re-treading over newness.
The remake could have been a perfect time to try new ideas that added to the overall experience. New monsters or new weapons would have surprised Dead Space veterans and created a bit of a talking point. The devs did shake things up in the overall narrative design (for the better) and implemented better zero-gravity movement, but the game is glaringly lacking in brand-new stuff.
5 Make The Old Control Configuration Work With Everything
A minor yet noticeable blemish comes in the form of the controls. One of the amazing options you can choose is the ability to configure your controls to match the original Dead Space and even Dead Space 2. However, selecting an older control style fails to work with everything the game has to offer.
For example, if you choose to play on the original Dead Space controls, the button mapping doesn’t work for some in-game interfaces. Most glaring is the map; being unable to switch between different floors. It's a small gripe, but makes the game feel untested.
4 Third Act's Action Overload
Toward the end, Dead Space falls into the trap most survival horrors get snagged on: it loads you to the teeth, throws away the suspense, and turns into a wave-based shooter. Action and horror require a harmonious mix to really get right, and this remake almost succeeds.
Unfortunately, not only is most of the end game just you against waves of enemies, but it's also a lite-escort mission as you wait for The Marker to make its way around a track. Dead Space earns its right to be an action survival horror, but it would have been nice to keep some of the suspenseful horror displayed so elegantly in its previous chapters.
3 Necromorph Behaviors
The Necromorphs in the remake are beautifully grotesque and will still have you avoiding every vent possible in the hope that one doesn’t pop out. Additionally, the remake has them behave pretty much identically to how they were in 2008, which is kind of a missed opportunity.
The majority of Necromorphs all come at you the same way, albeit at different speeds. It would have been amazing to see different behaviors displayed by the basic Necromorphs; having them use environments more to get to you, for example.
2 Chaser Sequence
The Hunter is a Necromorph encounter that sees Isaac contend with Dead Space’s version of Resident Evil 3’s Nemesis. An unbeatable foe that keeps regenerating and pursuing you. Whilst the look and sound design are both excellent for this creature, the tension generated from each encounter could be improved.
For starters, the Hunter is incredibly easy to dodge. Couple this with the fact it doesn’t always pursue you from room to room, and you’re left with a monster with wasted potential. A thing like that should be relentless and more in keeping with its unstoppable thirst to end your life.
1 Dr. Mercer’s Final Moments
Necromorphs aren’t the only villains you’ll confront as Dr. Mercer serves as a human antagonist and general mad cultist/scientist. He does a lot of heinous things with his overpowered version of stasis, which is why when he meets his abrupt end, it’s disappointing.
You never fight Mercer nor do you contribute to his downfall. He’s simply scooped up by a tentacle and presumed crushed to death. This demise isn’t at all satisfying and comes off as a quick way to get him out of the story. Adding a climactic encounter with the doctor would have at least added some gravitas to the moment.
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