Has everything you’d want in a survival horror game
The spooky deep-space spaceship genre sci-fi horror theme is a niche one in which only a few movie studios have decided to take a crack at. Event Horizon and Pandorum are two movies that come to mind. Now, EA wants to get involved in it, but wants to tell its story through the newer entertainment media known as the video game. If you are a fan of those types of movies, this game should definitely get you excited, because you can now experience the story, but now with an active approach, as opposed to a passive one.
Enter Isaac Clarke, an engineer and the protagonist of the game whom which you will control. He’s sent with a small team on a mission to find out why they lost contact with the huge mining space ship called the USG Ishimura. This will be something he will quickly find out shortly after arriving. Another motivator for Isaac is knowing that his girlfriend works at the same ship he’s on-route to.
The gameplay seemed to be well thought out and the control scheme worked very well for a third-person, over-the-shoulder game. Really, there was nothing to complain about! Constant mission objectives keep the game flowing, interactive 3-D maps assist in laying out the path for the mission objectives, and video, audio, and text logs always keep the story moving forward. When it comes to the control scheme, it is well laid out on the controller, so there is no odd finger placement when performing some multi button pressing action on the screen. And it seems as though they went through a checklist of items that need to be in a game such as Dead Space. Able to walk around while you aim your weapon, check. Able to strife, check. Able to quickly switch between long ranged and melee attacks, check. Easily swing the camera around to lookout for enemies (especially in zero g environments), check.
Speaking of which, Dead Space provides a few different types of environments to run around in. The first are the zero g environments and the others are the vacuumed environment of space. Each allows unique puzzles to be solved in and also allow enemies to sneak up on you from just about any angle. The vacuumed environments are especially creepy, because there are no sounds to be heard, except for the muffled sounds of your footsteps and when you fire your weapon. When out of your vision, enemies can creep up on you without your knowing until they start attacking you.
The weapons upgrade system is one of the better ones I’ve seen in a game. Scattered throughout the ship are workbenches that allow you to connect electrical circuits on your weapon to upgrade its abilities. An item called a power node is required to connect these circuits. A web of electrical circuits are on the board and nodes -- which are points on the circuits -- are all over the place. The upgrade abilities are scattered around the board on some of these nodes and you cannot get that ability until you’ve created a circuit to that node. Strategy is kind of needed because you might need to sacrifice a few power nodes before you create a circuit to the next upgrade ability. Originally, I had a hated it, but I soon became addicted to it, needing to find any loose items on the ship and selling them for money to purchase more power nodes.
The atmosphere Dead Space provides is truly on par in what its trying to portray. With narrow corridors, dark environments, and the distant sounds of the ships inner surroundings, these all work together to give you, the player, a creepy feeling that something could come out and attack you at any moment. Attention to details were noted for giving the ship a look as if a massacre broke out not to long before you arrived and a state of confusion and panic was given to all of the crew members. But now, it’s all quiet and you’re all by yourself, seeing the aftermath of that chaos. The music rounds this all up with a soundtrack similar to that of the movie I mentioned earlier, Pandorum.
I’m glad to see no multiplayer was included with the game. This omission seemed to allow the development team to really focus on a well crafted single player game and not have some online gameplay bolted on just for the sake of having multiplayer. In conclusion, EA and Visceral Games created a well rounded action/adventure horror game set in space and includes everything thing you would want in it! Once you think about it, it’s difficult to imagine if there was anything more they could have added to the game.