Dead Space should have launched with the moniker “In space no-one can hear you crap your pants”. It’s one of the most terrifying experiences you will ever encounter in your video-gaming life. Lucky for EA, Dead Space is the only survival horror game out for Halloween, yet it is still released the same week as Fable 2 and Far Cry 2.
And yet in spite of the triple AAA titles released in the same week, Dead Space certainly holds its own. You play as Space Engineer Isaac Clarke, who along with a few others receive a distress call from the ‘planet cracker’ ship - the USG Ishimura. So you all go to the ship, to find out what’s happened, and are only ambushed by a bunch of aliens known as Necromorphs! Scary times!
Of course this means you’re split-up from your party, and have to work your way around the ship doing various tasks to make your way home. And it all makes for one of the most tense, atmospheric and petrifying games we’ve ever played. It’s not a typical run and gun either, as the Necromorphs require specific ways to be taken down. Strategic dismemberment is the name of the game, and it’s up to you to work out the best ways to dismember the scarily relentless Necromorphs.
The weapons in the game are actually supposed to be mining tools, although luckily enough they’re just as good for keeping away the Necromorphs! There are various mining tools you can use to your advantage, such as what is essentially a flame thrower, mmmnnn, crispy Necromorphs! You also have numerous abilities that you can use to your advantage, such as stasis, which is similar to playing bullet time to a particular object, as well as being able to manipulate gravity for puzzles, in a way not too dissimilar to the gravity gun in Half Life 2. The zero-g areas are great, especially for watching dismembered limbs simply float away.
You suit is actually used as your hud, it displays your health meter, as well as oxygen and how much of your stasis ability you have remaining. As well as that, when getting video feed, or opening a map, it visually appears out in front of you. The story unfolds through this use of video feed as well as audio logs that you pick up on your way, similar in kind to Doom 3 or Bioshock before it.
The level design, lighting and graphics in Dead Space are fantastic, and along with its superb audio, compliment the gameplay extensively. When in parts of the ship which are part exposed by space, the audio turns into a muffled almost silent state. It’s all very impressive.
Crudely put, if you’re looking for Resident Evil in space, then this is it. If you’re a big fan of Aliens, the Thing, or Even Horizon, then there is a high possibility you’ll love this.
But prepared to get scared - a lot. And make sure you have plenty of spare underwear at hand.
Review: Wesley Lock