Remember, in space no-one can hear you being violently dismembered.
So, not too long ago I decided to lay down some money for Dead Space in a sale. I had played the demo before on XBox and was kind of interested to see how this would play out on the PC, despite, at the time of playing the demo, having zero experience with FPS games and generally not being interested in them. Then along came many first person games and hundreds of hours of playing said first person games and let’s just say that has probably changed. Also, the addition of an XBox controller for PC has kind of made it easier to play games like these (though it’s arguable if that was a benefit).
Dead Space, is, however, quite unique in the way it plays out.
There are some unique mechanics like the complete removal of a HUD. All of the information about Isaac’s health and current Stasis energy is displayed on the back of his RIG, any ammunition remaining is displayed next to the weapon as you aim it, the inventory and menu systems are all displayed as an interface through his RIG, and when you’re wandering through the desolation there’s absolutely nothing on screen besides the character and the scene. It’s a pretty cool approach. That said, it would only really work for a game like this where you have one controllable character and where there aren’t too many resources to juggle. It can be a teensy bit annoying when you’re escaping or backing up against a tough opponent as you can’t tell how much life you have, if you can use Stasis, or if you’re going to survive the next hit.
One of the other things (from a purely aesthetic point of view) that I love is how the main character is just a regular guy. I mean, well, obviously not that regular, as how many people could survive that- but he acts very regularly. He isn’t a warrior or a fighter. He walks at a normal pace, he breathes heavily when in low oxygen, he sways when badly hurt, he limps, he staggers, and generally he’s very much alive. He also has a rather unique series of deaths which (depending on what kills you) ranges from the gory to the obscene. Still- points for giving him life!
Thematically the game plays out very realistically and you do feel like you’re on a ship out in space. There’s the funky zero gravity environments where you can turn gravity on or off and float about from surface to surface solving various puzzles, dodging necromorphs, fighting necromorphs, or generally exploring the floating containers. While there are vacuum environments where you have only a limited amount of time/oxygen to finish the objective. So, again, points for creating these realistic and neat experiences. It helps break the monotony of wondering what the next thing to horribly eat your face will be. It also helps reinforce the story and opens up a number of “what if?” scenarios that other games would leave purely to speculation. Such as my personal favourite “what would happen if I jumped onto that asteroid while those massive arms rotate across its surface?”
I’m divided on the story personally. It’s good, I like it, and it’s something different to what you’re used to in most games. But the game doesn’t yield a massive amount of play time and is fairly linear so despite checking every last vent and toilet you can’t really extend it, however, it does have a certain level of difficulty that involves learning your foes, and really comes down to how well you play it rather than how well it plays out. So if you manage to learn about/exploit the enemy weaknesses then you’ll clear it quicker than if you spend the game shooting wildly at nothing. There’s also the humorously self-destructive crew. Like in one mission they practically say there’s a shuttle out there which you can use. However, it has no navigation circuits so you need to find them. All three. Scattered around the rooms at random. There’s also this other thing you need. You might also be interested to know that nothing works with anything so you’ll need to manually load the cargo.
Kind of makes you wonder if they might have had a better chance at survival if they didn’t keep hiding all of the important items across the ship at random, or randomly damaging things, or just generally sabotaging themselves in the event of any kind of ship wide event. Still this is slightly sarcastic as name me a game this doesn’t happen in.
For the price I paid I can hardly argue with the game as a whole, though. There’s also the option of continuing the story with the same gear to maximise on the opportunities you have or starting over with Impossible Mode which I assume by the name is… quite difficult? That and there’s a unique experience to be had here. I certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good FPS, or enjoys horror, or just likes a good scare now and then. Not that they are that scary once you get used to the fact that they come from the vents. Always watching the vents. Except that big hulking one that doesn’t need an introduction he just mauls your face for fun and laughs. Well, who’s laughing now?!
Have a nice weekend, all!