Dead Space is the first game of a trilogy in a third person survival horror series. It focuses on Isaac Clarke, the system engineer of the mining ship Ishimura and his face to face battles with grotesque reanimated human bodies called Necromorphs.
Ship of a 1000 Corpses
You control a silent protagonist named Isaac, from an over the shoulder, third person perspective. Within five minutes of gameplay you realize that you’re not leaving this ship anytime soon.
You are thrust into the exploration of this hollow, ghost-like spaceship with bloodied messages scrawled on walls and machinery. The very first one you see hints at you to “cut off their limbs.” There are several mutilated human bodies and body parts to greet you as you explore. The atmosphere can be very claustrophobic with narrow hallways and creature flooded rooms. If this is a phobia of yours, maybe play something else.
Over the next 12 chapters, you’ll be running, screaming and floating your way through a number of cramped halls filled with gore-hungry Necromorphs. Look forward to spending 12-13 hours looking over your shoulder. Necromorphs, the main monsters in Dead Space, will be found everywhere; even at times rising from the human corpses of your former ship members and lunging themselves out of dark corners to attack you. As these grotesque abominations stalk towards you with their protruding insect like limbs, it can be a little unnerving to say the least. In order to defend yourself, game combat requires you to shoot off the Necromorph’s legs and arms. Yes, there is a lot of dismemberment in this game.
Another helpful tool in combat is “stasis.” This is one of the most important tools in your arsenal, allowing you to slow down approaching monsters and fast moving structures. In between your fight for humanity, you will also discover text and audio logs that are scattered about. These bites of information explain the events leading up to present day.
You have to collect “credits,” a form of intergalactic money to buy ammo, space weapons, health, and air tanks to name a few. An upgrade system powered by “energy nodes” can upgrade your reload speed, inventory space, weapon damage, suit levels, and ammo capacity.
How Dead Space Stands On Its Own
Few games can get away with having a silent protagonist who does not verbally react to anything, but Dead Space is successful in pulling it off. The story we’re presented provides so many interesting twists and turns that you immediately ignore the lack of speech from the main character, Isaac.
I do not even consider myself a fan of science fiction, yet I’m so fascinated with every aspect of this game. The graphics were realistic enough to provide an extraordinary picture of the Necromorphs and other surrounding areas that make you feel like you’re playing an interactive movie. The soundtrack is brilliant with perfect tension building. It even has an eerily good rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.”
There are no cinematic cut scenes, which I personally am a fan of. I hate when a story is bogged down by cinematic scenes, taking away from the immersion of the game. Instead, Dead Space offers in game cut scenes of dramatic plot points and expositions. These scenes do require you to watch, but you can quietly interact with the environment around you during them.
The gameplay mechanics include several quick-time events. One of them requires you to press the action button while a large slice of alien substance perched on one of the hallway walls attempts to pull you in.
My Experience With Dead Space
It took me a few days to finish the game because of it’s challenging aspects. The Necromorphs work as exceptional obstacles; and grow stronger as you continue to upgrade and improve. The toughest parts for me were the asteroid shooting objectives and the mission where you’re instructed to place a beacon on an asteroid. Although mind-numbingly difficult, it’s not enough to make you want to never play the game again. However, you might feel the urge to rage quit for the day.
I appreciate the level of violence and gore in the game. One fault, in my opinion, is the lengthy exposition between characters. This removes the feeling of fear and adrenaline too quickly. Not to mention certain gameplay (asteroid) missions that seem foreign to the rest of the game’s difficulty level.
I enjoyed the first few objectives involving zero-gravity, but as the game progressed, I found myself pretty annoyed with having to navigate through the obstacles, spike creatures and Necromorphs all coming at you simultaneously.
The Legacy It Leaves
The game was first published in October 2008 by Visceral Games. It’s legacy has been built up overtime and Dead Space has acquired memorable gameplay, story, graphics, atmosphere, and characters. I played Dead Space for the first time last summer and it was an extraordinary experience. There’s no doubt I’d like to play it again.
Dead Space is a sci-fi survival horror adventure that reminds us of why science fiction entertainment will always be timeless. If you don’t give Dead Space a shot, you’re missing out on a really enjoyable, if not terrifying, experience. I will warn you though, that your sanity level may never be the same again.