In the fast-paced world of gaming, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with all the great titles that come and go. Often several “must play” titles come out close together or gaming generations move on leaving a selection of games behind. With backwards compatibility being more readily available TBG has taken it upon ourselves to look back at some big-name classics, sleeper hits and obscure titles, dust them off and see how they hold up today for your gaming pleasure. First up is 2008’s Dead Space.
Dead Space is a survival horror created by “Visceral Games” (Dead Space, Dante’s Inferno, Battlefield Hardline) in which you play as the most unfortunate engineer you’ll ever meet, Issac Clarke. Set in the year 2508, humans have used up most of their natural resources so send huge ships known as planet crackers out into space to gather ore. After receiving a distress signal from the planet cracker USG ISHIMURA, a rescue ship is sent out to lend a hand.
Upon arrival a malfunction with the guidance systems causes the rescue ship to crash into the docking bay, it’s now down to the rescue crew’s engineer, Isacc, to find a way to fix their ship. As the team explore the ISHIMURA it soon becomes apparent that something very bad has happened. Before the crew have a chance to gather themselves they are attacked by grotesque monsters that will come to be known as Necromorph’s.
What follows is a fight for survival against these walking nightmares that can only be stopped by dismembering enough limbs to put them out of action. While searching the ship for the means to repair your own vessel, record logs are found that piece together the events that lead up to the ISHIMURA’S downfall and the sinister secrets that gave rise to the Necromorph’s.
Dead Space is played in the third-person perspective with a fixed over the shoulder camera. The most effective way to take down the Necromorphs is by tactically dismembering multiple limbs. Enemies come in all shapes and sizes and keeping with Isaacs abilities as an engineer, weapons take the form of plasma firing tools that can alter between vertical or horizontal blasts to wider spread line guns through to more traditional weapons such as assault rifles and flamethrowers.
Necromorph’s all have specific weak spots but they attack with great speed, are extremely aggressive, climb walls, burst from vents and generally keep your heart racing and your palms sweating. Environments can range from tight and confined corridors to lab’s, mess halls and even in zero-G environments where you won’t be able to hear enemies coming.
To ensure Dead Space remains atmospheric and intense the gameplay is blissfully free of a hud. Issac’s engineer suit will provide you with HP readings by a blue LED which goes up the spine of the suit, weapon ammo will be lit up on the weapons with access to your inventory happening in real-time via a hologram projection, meaning if you are flicking through items you are left open to attack so make sure you are in a safe area first!
How does it hold up today?
Despite being 11 years old, Dead Space may have some flat textures in places but holds up remarkably well overall thanks to the solid art design and controls. Being a sci-fi horror expect lots of dark areas and immersive use of lighting with certain area’s only being lit up by your suit visor and weapon. Controls are responsive with Isacc feeling slightly clunky by design, after all, he’s an engineer wearing a hefty spacesuit not a super-soldier.
Design tones are drawn from the creator’s love for sci-fi and horror with 2005’s Resident Evil 4 providing inspiration for the core gameplay. Other inspirations can be seen from movies like Aliens and Event Horizon throughout the game in both the environments and the Necromorph’s.
Dead Space released in 2008 to a positive reception with many reviewers praising it’s gameplay, script and was quickly regarded as one the scariest survival horrors on the market. It spawned two direct sequels which saw Isaac Clarke returning as the lead character as well as a selection of spin off’s including a mobile version, an interactive novel and an on-rails shooter. Two animated movies and a series of books and graphic novels were also released.
Dead Space is arguably one of the best survival horrors ever created and deserves its place in every gamer’s collection. If you haven’t played it then you owe it to yourself to give it a try. A solid plot, heart-pounding gore-soaked combat mixed with deep atmosphere, intense sound design and plenty of jump scares.
Originally released on PS3, XBOX 360 and PC, Dead Space can also be played via backwards compatibility on XBOX ONE or via EA Access subscriptions.