Say hello to one of the scariest games to date, giving you a bone-chilling, worthwhile experience too good to pass up.
asian_pride69 wrote this review on .
Dead Space's story is set in the USG Ishimura. This massive "Planet Cracker" is known to be the largest ship in her class of Planet Crackers, and known to house a thousand crew members or more. The Ishimura's job is to dig up minerals in the planet called Aegis 7. However, during the mining procedures in the planet, Ishimura suddenly dispatches a distress beacon to the Concordance Extraction Corporation (CEC), and CEC responds by sending the USG Kellion to investigate the problem. Isaac Clarke, the silent, main protagonist of the game is one of the crew members aboard the Kellion sent to investigate the problem inside the USG Ishimura.
Among the crew is Kendra Daniels, a specialist, and Zack Hammond, her senior officer. Clarke is an engineer, and his primary mission is to fix the USG Ishimura's problem. In the beginning, Isaac also gets a message from her ex-girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, asking for help, which is the main reason he joined the investigation in the first place. When they attempt to approach the ship, something goes terribly wrong, and the Kellion crash lands in Ishimura's docking bay. Shortly after entering the Ishimura, the Necromorphs attack the crew and kills all but Clarke, Daniels, and Hammond. The latter then realize that most of the USG Ishimura's systems are malfunctioning, and the ship's crew members nowhere to be found. Hammond sends Isaac to repair the damaged systems so that they can figure out what happened to Ishimura and its crew, and to learn more about the mysterious Necromorphs that lurk throughout the ship. Isaac also sets out to find and rescue Nicole, wherever she may be, and if she is still alive or not.
The story is great and very solid. It's one of the many aspects of Dead Space that got me interested. Story is well presented and gets you into it. Thankfully, you will meet other humans as you progress through the chapters. Although they are the antagonists, and can be pretty delusional in personality, they provide detailed information on how the Ishimura crew found a mysterious marker, and also how the Necromorphs were born. You will also find many mission logs and audio tapes from the crew, slowly revealing more about the mysteries around the Necromorphs, and the story just gets more interesting as you complete each chapter.
Character development is also involved with the story. Rising tensions and distrust between Kendra Daniels and Zack Hammond can make the player imagine what it must be like for them in that situation; how panicked or frustrated they must be feeling about the monsters and the disappearance of Ishimura's crew. Eventually, they finally team up to solve the mysteries and try to get out alive. The "make us whole again" statement that Nicole says throughout the game makes her current situation more and more suspicious, which really makes you wonder how the next event and the one after that is going to turn out. Expect to encounter plot twists as well, in which I am not going to mention any further because I do not want to spoil it for you.
Typically, the average gamer knows that it is common sense that when you shoot somebody in the head, then it's an automatic kill. Well, common sense doesn't apply in Dead Space, so you can forget about it. The best method for killing off these Necromorphs is through a unique method called "strategic dismemberment." The only way to kill these enemies is to cut off their limbs (hinted at the beginning of the game - written conveniently on a wall--in blood). Necromorphs are not going to die after hitting it with a certain number of bullets. Strategically severing their limbs is the best way to kill them. However, the Necromorphs also have the ability to regenerate their limbs and even grow new sections, so the player has to be quick and precise in eliminating these enemies, or else they will keep coming at you.
Players also have to be careful when fighting other types of Necromorphs. For example, there is a 'pregnant' Necromorph in the game. Tiny parasites are released when the player shoots its belly, which can be frustrating to fight off. The player can still kill it by shooting off its limbs without even harming its belly. There is also another creature with a large explosive attached to it. The player has to be careful not to be within its explosion range when shooting. Or, you can carefully detach its organic bomb and use it to your advantage.
Gameplay is not exactly new, but strategic dismemberment takes a while to get used to, because we're used to the fact that a head shot equals instant kill. But once you get the hang of strategically severing the enemies' limbs and sections, and if you can efficiently use Isaac's other abilities like the Stasis and Kinesis, then you're good to go. What brings the gameplay down is the camera when you decide to hit the Necromorphs with melee attacks. Camera is pretty good when exploring and even looking at the background, but at times it can become frustrating because camera movement up close and personal against the enemies is not quick enough to know what direction the enemy is coming at you. Although it's not a big issue overall, I would recommend you to keep your distance from the enemies often so that you have a great view of where they are on the screen. Also, you can try your skills in Easy, Medium, Hard, or Impossible mode, depending on what level of difficulty you are comfortable with.
Intense and scary is what I would describe the gameplay. There are moments in the game where an occasional Necromorph tentacle grabs Isaac by the leg and the player must shoot its core before the monster completely drags poor Isaac to his gruesome death. On some moments, Isaac has to fight upside down, which provides a fitting challenge to players. What makes them interesting is that they are not just your run-of-the-mill, shooting-up-front-and-it-will-eventually-keel-over-and-die fights. Some of the different approaches to take down an enemy while in a dire situation makes some of the boss fights in Dead Space extremely enjoyable.
Navigating through USG Ishimura isn't difficult. The holographic 3D map is very helpful that you know exactly where you are in the ship. What makes going to your objectives easier is pressing a certain button in the game that shows a blue line telling you where your next mission is. It's pretty convenient to have that feature around when you get lost. It's also unlimited use, so that is a huge plus.
The game is a free-roaming, third-person shooter, so you can take your time racking up in ammunition and health packs, and finding treasure just lying around in the rooms and the dead and floating bodies around the ship. There are also missions that will take you to zero gravity, and moving around upside down or sideways can be pretty fun and interesting. Some parts of the game also take the player to vacuum locations, which forces the player to move faster because Isaac only has a limited amount of air before he runs out of oxygen to breathe in, and eventually suffocate.
Backtracking is the downfall of free roaming in the USG Ishimura. Most of the missions will make the player go back to the same places in the previous ones. For example, some doors and passageways are not accessible yet in Chapter 1, but when you get to-say, Chapter 5, you might trigger an event that will make the player go back to where they started because those doors are now accessible, and could be a crucial part of the storyline. This hinders the player's gameplay experience, because going to the same places back and forth, over and over again can be plenty annoying and tiring.
You can take a break from Dead Space's creepy atmosphere for a while by taking your sweet time solving puzzles and even enjoy some of the mini-games present throughout the ship. A shooting range is available for target practice, and there is even a game called "Z-Ball" (which is a deviation from regular basketball I believe) that the player can spend an hour or two shooting through these hoops while in zero gravity. It gets pretty interesting that you might spend some of your time there. Besides, if you want to unlock as many trophies/achievements as you want, then completing these mini-games can be a great addition to your trophy collection.
Traditional heads-up display, or HUD, does not exist in Dead Space, like I mentioned earlier. Isaac's health bar is shown on the back of his suit, and presented in different colors. Green indicates that Isaac is in great condition, yellow shows that he is in moderate condition, and red is critical condition, or low on health. Information about ammunition count, weapons, and other things are presented in holographic form. The player can check the menu for equipping other weapons or using certain items and can check the map to see where the next objective is located.
However, know that the game is not paused when accessing these features, leaving the player vulnerable for an unexpected attack, and makes it difficult for the player to find a spot and take a breather. Even cut scenes or major events in the game do not distract gameplay and some of them are interactive. The player can still walk around while a holographic scene is playing, which keeps the player fully immersed in the game, and does not interrupt the gameplay experience.
There are also these things called "power nodes" which help upgrade Isaac's weapons and status such as faster reloading, bigger ammo capacity for weapons, and more. Power nodes can be used in these power node benches, where the player can upgrade Isaac's stats, depending on how many nodes the player finds in the game. You can still buy those at stores located throughout the ship. For stores, Isaac can buy ammunition, new weapons, health packs, and other useful things in here.
There are also other types of suits that Isaac can wear. Each suit has its strengths and weaknesses, such as stronger defense or for better mobility and health. Stores also have stashes so that the player can store items that can be saved for later use. Isaac is equipped with a Plasma Cutter at the start. Weapons that Isaac finds are mostly mining tools because of his occupation as an engineer, although there are military-based weapons and suits available later on.
Other than strategic dismemberment, there are other skills and tools Isaac can use to defeat the Necromorphs more efficiently and effectively. Stasis gives Isaac the ability to slow down his enemies for a short period of time, so that they can be taken out more easily. Stasis can also slow other things down, such as fast-moving doors or fans so that Isaac can get through certain places that seem impossible to get through. The Kinesis ability allows Isaac to pick up items and can be thrown at enemies if the player does not want to waste too much ammunition. This move can also be used to move certain objects such as batteries to open doors and gates.
Excellent visual presentation makes Dead Space an awesome sight to see. You would forget about the game for a second or two and just move the camera to the awesome background. Space is very detailed and you can see a distant planet or a bright star beyond the horizon that you just wonder what goes on there. It is so detailed that you can even see the crags and the rough surface of a planet far away, and also some floating debris from the damaged areas of the Ishimura.
Lighting and shadow effects are very well done, turning space into a breathtaking experience that is worth sightseeing in. In fact, you might even be tempted to just float towards space in zero gravity yourself. The Necromorphs are also well done that these grotesque creatures are one of the reasons for Dead Space's horrendous and chilling atmosphere. Blood content is extremely high, so you can expect that from the Necromorphs, on the walls, and of course, Isaac. There are many of Isaac's death animations that really make the gameplay intense as it already is. The graphics are so stunning that you can actually experience how majestic and terrifying deep space, and the Ishimura can be.
Great sound effects are what make an excellent horror-based game--well...horrifyingly fun, and Dead Space is no exception. Hearing nothing but Isaac's heavy breathing, the silence of space, and the Ishimura's dead, empty halls can make the player tense and would expect to have some frights as the game progresses, because you never know what you might run into. Weapons in the game are indeed futuristic, like the plasma cutter or the laser beam, but they almost sound believable and feel just about right.
Voice acting is excellent, backed up by a solid script. The sound of Isaac's grunts and heavy breathing is convincing that it tells the player that he's desperate to save Nicole. The hysterical shrieks, guttural screams, and all the growls and grunts of the Necromorphs may leave you terrified because of how menacing it is to hear them. You might even hear some infernal laughter right around the corner which can really give you the creeps, and there are even moments when a sudden explosion occurs, which may make you jump off your seat.
Music also has some occasional thrills. For example, do you remember 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' back when in kindergarten? Remember how sweet the song was? Well in Dead Space, you can expect that song to send chills down your spine, as it shatters your sweet, childhood memory of it, and transforms the song into a nightmare. Then your reaction would be, "What the hell was that!?"
Dead Space's great story and script, breathtaking visuals, excellent sound design, solid voice acting and music makes this game one of the scariest survival-horror games to ever come out, presenting a bone-chilling, enjoyable experience too great to pass up. Although backtracking can be somewhat annoying, everything else that Dead Space has to offer will keep you entertained for many hours. If this does not convince you that Dead Space isn't that scary, I'm convinced that you're playing it at the wrong time of day. Try playing Dead Space at night, turn all the lights out, and turn up the speakers. Then we'll see if it isn't scary enough yet.