Archives by Day

June 2024

Dead Space Remake

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Motive Studios
Release Date: Jan. 27, 2023


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PS5 Review - 'Dead Space Remake'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Feb. 2, 2023 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

The sci-fi survival horror classic Dead Space returns, completely rebuilt from the ground up to offer a deeper and more immersive experience.

We're in the era where a ton of the most popular horror games of all time are getting remakes. Resident Evil is almost up to the RE4 Remake, and Silent Hill 2 is joining the ever-increasing list. Dead Space stands out from other remakes in that it is incredibly loyal to the original game without being overly so. Dead Space Remake isn't so much a reimagining of the original as it is an updated version. It has almost all of the same scares, the same set pieces, and the same plot, but everything is polished and revamped. It's easily one of the most faithful remakes I've ever played, and in this case, I mean that in an entirely positive way. It is perhaps one of the few remakes I can think of that effectively replaces the original game; it's basically the same game but better.

Dead Space Remake is set in the far distant future, when humanity has taken to the stars. Players step into the metal boots of Isaac Clark, a repairman who is being sent with his crew to the USG Ishimura. The Ishimura is a "planet cracker" ship that harvests abandoned worlds for materials, and it has mysteriously gone offline. Nicole, Isaac's girlfriend, is a doctor on the ship, so he goes along in the hopes of seeing her. When Isaac and his crew arrive, they find that the massive ship seems to be empty — except for horrifying clawed and spiked zombie-monsters, which seem to be all that is left of the original crew. Isaac must find a way to survive in the most hellish ship since the Event Horizon, and hopefully, he can rescue Nicole and get out alive.

Perhaps the most significant change from the original game is that Isaac is now voiced, and in this case, it works extremely well. The game resisted the urge to have Isaac talking to himself, so it means that he participates in conversations. It's difficult to express how big an improvement this is, as it makes him feel like an actual person. It also helps to make some of the other characters less annoying, as Isaac is now volunteering to do things instead of being a mute puppet. It's easy to worry about a voiced protagonist hurting the immersion, but Dead Space Remake knocks it out of the park.

The rest of the cast also benefits a lot from the writing changes. There are no huge shifts, and much of the dialogue is the same in meaning, if not line-for-line from the original, but everything is more fleshed out. You get a greater idea of some of the characters and how they work, and it lends a lot more to the setting, including making the ties to Dead Space 2 and 3 feel more natural. A huge winner in all of this is Nicole. In the original game, she was barely present except as a goal for Isaac, but here, you get a much better feel of her as a character.

The gameplay of Dead Space hasn't significantly changed. The original was very much a Resident Evil 4 meets Event Horizon kind of game, and the remake solidifies the gameplay. The core combat idea is that the Necromorphs are not particularly vulnerable to standard damage. Instead, you need to find ways to remove their limbs to significantly impair and damage them. As such, the bulk of your weapons are repurposed mining tools, such as a laser used for drilling, a rotating chainsaw blade, and what amounts to a laser nail gun. You also have access to a Stasis module, which lets you temporary slow down objects and enemies, and a Kinesis module, which lets you toss things at foes.

In the original game, the starting plasma cutter was such an amazing weapon that you barely wanted to touch the others, since there were a limited number of upgrades available. The remake fixes that by not nerfing the plasma cutter (it's still great) but by giving almost every weapon a significant set of buffs. They're very strong, and there wasn't one that felt lackluster. You also find all of the weapons lying around, so you're given pretty much the entire set for free, allowing you to try everything. You can now find optional upgrades that unlock special benefits for your weapons. Likewise, upgrade nodes that you spend on the weapon can be refunded for a relatively cheap cost.

This might sound like a small change, but it makes the game a whole lot more fun. The ability to swap between weapons or have the freedom to invest in weapons without it feeling permanent makes it more fun to experiment. The game still tends to reward you for sticking with only one weapon (ammo only drops for weapons in your current inventory), but it feels more fun and viable to change up the weapon you're using until you find one that really clicks.

The Necromorphs function similar to how they did in the original game, but they feel a touch faster and more aggressive. It isn't completely night and day, but it makes them feel like they pack some more bite. Ammunition is also more scarce, and if you don't make your shots properly, it'll be very easy to end up frantically throwing things with Kinesis in the hopes of escaping a swarm of space zombies. It doesn't make the game unfair, but it feels more like Dead Space 2's baseline difficulty.

The Ishimura has seen a somewhat significant redesign. Most of the memorable areas are still present, but there's some remixing, too. There are more optional areas, including entire side-quests, that you can find while exploring. You can even use the tram system to return to previous areas when you have tools to unlock things that you couldn't before, so it adds a touch of Metroidvania to the proceedings. The game is still largely linear, but now it has enough freedom to encourage you to traverse corridors you don't need to; there's almost always a valuable upgrade waiting for you. Sure, it might be behind an army of Necromorphs, but it's there.

Thankfully, Dead Space Remake has also gone out of its way to fix some of the annoying areas and add some new twists. For example, node doors are completely gone. You don't need to hoard upgrade material in case you need it to open something. Instead, those doors (and certain other areas) are built around power rerouting puzzles, where you have to route power to certain items in the environment. Sometimes this involves figuring out how to get power to a door. Other times, you have to make tough choices. For example, one early area has three potential places to route power: a door you need to open, the lights, or the oxygen. This means that you need to fight in the dark or to give yourself a time limit to get through the area. Likewise, the annoying-as-heck ADS turret segments from the original have been replaced by something that is similar but less annoying — and it's over much faster.

The remake also gives Dead Space's incredibly strong art design a chance to shine. The original was a good-looking game for the time, and it hasn't aged that badly, but the remake is fantastic. Every area is dripping with detail and atmosphere. The improved lighting effects turn relatively calm areas into potential nightmare fuel. The spooky sound effects of the ship are a terrifying delight, with countless uncomfortable noises and eerie whispers that make every step feel like a genuine fright. The voice acting is all quite good, and in almost every case, I think it's an improvement over the original's. Isaac's voice actor, Gunner Wright, is the same one who voiced him in Dead Space 2 and 3, so he even sounds right.

It's extremely difficult to not gush about Dead Space Remake because it does everything right. As much as I love Resident Evil 2's remake, it's fundamentally a very different game from the original. Dead Space Remake is a loyal and loving remake that captures everything that was good about the original, while fixing almost everything that was bad. It's easily the gold standard for how to remake a beloved game, and it's easily as good as Capcom's efforts. If you were a fan of the original, Dead Space Remake is a must-play, and if you're interested in experiencing it for the first time, the remake is the best option.

Score: 9.0/10

More articles about Dead Space Remake
blog comments powered by Disqus