Since its initial release in 2008, the original Dead Space has received a plethora of critical acclaim, not only for being a great horror game but also for changing the landscape of horror gaming as we know it. Its distinct blend of horror and science fiction has earned the series high praise from critics as well as award-giving bodies.
Its release in 2008 spawned sequels and spinoffs, some of which were well-received while others received mixed reviews. Will Electronic Arts be able to revive its award-winning series after years of dormancy?
For those unfamiliar with the series, Dead Space took place in a dystopian future. Isaac Clarke, our main character, is an engineer assigned to perform maintenance on the USG Ishamura, a space fleet used by Earth to harvest energy from space. As you try to stay alive and escape the ship’s nightmare, you will discover why it became infested with hellish creatures known as Necromorphs.
Motive Studio has kept the original gory story but improved it significantly to make an already excellent narrative even better. Fans who are concerned that their experience has already been spoiled because they have already played the original need not worry as most objects and enemies have been relocated and there are a few surprises in store. This game also has a high replay value because there are unlockable items and a new game plus available to the player. For the whole duration of the campaign, everything feels seamless thanks to the studio’s decision to make one cohesive experience by removing all loading screens when you cross areas. The developers’ dedication to recreating the masterpiece is something we admire.
The third-person shooting gameplay has remained the same, with significant improvements such as a new upgrade system and alternate fires that will open up new possibilities in the aged combat mechanics. Because Ishamura is quite large, a new locator feature similar to those found in current-gen games is available to assist you.
This new feature, which I admittedly used a lot can be irksome for the diehard survival aficionados, will definitely help the newcomers in exploration. You can go back to some explored areas as a Security Clearance feature will lock some areas which can be rewarding to go back to.
Working from scratch, Motive Studio’s approach is that this game is a culmination of everything great about the series, and it has been developed with EA’s proprietary Frostbite Engine. Visuals are still impressive and we cannot stop looking at how gorgeous the lighting system is thanks to the engine’s great handling of ray-traced reflections.
The game ran brilliantly on modern PCs. Playing the game with an RTX 3070 at 1440p and 100+ fps in Ultra settings is a breeze; its minimum requirement of AMD RX 5700 and GTX 1070 will surely make the game available for many players indicating that the game was well optimized for PC. Though there are some minor frame drops during some sequences, they are easily overlooked because only a few occurred during the 15-hour campaign.
The sound mixing is excellent, as it blends well with the claustrophobia and silence of space. We strongly advise using headphones when playing the game because the ambient sounds build up the tension and give the impression that someone is watching you from behind. Though we were concerned that giving lines to a non-speaking Isaac from the original would ruin the experience, the voice acting and timing of the lines were perfect to create the eerie silence on some levels.
There are some minor hiccups that can be easily ignored as Motive Studios made the game the ultimate version of Dead Space that we can play at this time. It’s commendable how they respected the original material while providing great reason for old players to go back to the game and for newcomers to have a great starting point.
Even though it’s 10 years late, Dead Space (2023) is Electronic Arts’ apology letter after the mayhem of Dead Space 3. With the release of this remake, it has been demonstrated that good development and listening to what the public wants is essential in providing a breath of fresh air to an old game.