SUMMARY: Made to make you jump…
One warning. Do not! play Dead Space at 2am with all the lights off. Or, alternatively, do! Because Dead Space thrives off atmosphere. I’d even go as far as to say that it hits the heights of Alien in terms of its creepy science-fiction tension with some unsettlingly gruesome scenes and surprises from hidden monsters. Before I played Dead Space I never saw the appeal of being scared shitless, but now I’m starting to see it can be weirdly entertaining. It’s a brilliant, brilliant game which should get more recognition.
Set in the distant future, you’re Isaac Clarke, an engineer for the Kellion, a space vessel tasked with finding out the details of a distress call sent from the U.S.G Ishimura mining station. Isaac’s girl, Nicole, is part of the medical crew on the ship. When they arrive, though, they discover no-one (human anyway) on board and soon they’re thrown into a survival nightmare crawling with infected humans known as Necromorphs. Isaac must survive in this terrifying, abandoned ship while all the time looking for a way for he and his crew to escape.
At first, the story comes across a little like Alien (again); a crew investigating the distress call and discovering something very sinister. But my explanation is just the gist of the plot. There’s also an underlying religious subplot involving the discovery of an alien artifact known as The Marker. As you uncover all the secrets, twists and detail of what happened to the Ishimura and the signicance of The Marker, it truly becomes a gripping and engrossing experience.
Combine this with an atmosphere which is unmatched in its execution. Not only are the monsters you encounter ugly, awful looking things, but they’ll jump out from nowhere incredibly quickly, and with plenty of different ones to dismember it’s always a gripping fight. If you think they’re dead, chances are that they’re probably not; these things are crafty like that. Shock-ability is rife here, as sound effects will go from quiet and sinister to full-blown fucked-ness, complete with monster groans and screams.
To dismember these alien bastards you’ve got to be as violent and gross as the buggers themselves. Cut off limbs with your weapons and you’ll do more damage. Stamp on their heads. Burn them with your flamethrower. There are plenty of weapons and ways for you to dispatch of the big buggers, and each weapon is brilliant to use. Aiming controls are top-notch, and although some people don’t like the third-person approach to the game, I think it works amazingly well. The interface is much neater, with your health and energy bars integrated into your armour, and the R.I.G is an ingenious and very tidy way of organising your inventory. It feels very polished.
But Dead Space doesn’t just have oodles of gore-ridden violence. Puzzles are integrated too, which utilize a superbly done anti-gravity system. Granted, they aren’t exactly difficult puzzles, but they’re enjoyable, especially when you’re using the stasis and kinetic abilities to complete them. And you’ll always have some deranged monsters to keep an eye out for while you complete them. It’s in these anti-gravity moments when the graphic quality reaches their height. They’re great all the time, but visuals of space and some expansive environments give a huge sense of spectacle.
And, if all this stuff isn’t enough to persuade you to go out and buy this game, there’s a great weapon and R.I.G upgrade system that you should have a need for now and then… if you want to survive. You can choose which weapons you want to upgrade and in what way. It gives a good, satisfying bit of customization to what is essentially an action game.
So, if you haven’t guessed already, I think Dead Space is spectacularly good. It’s incredibly blood-thirsty but the sense of fear is dealt with and executed incredibly well. It’s not senseless violence. This game has an in-depth story and plenty of subplots which are handled with a huge amount of creativity. Add an amazingly good gameplay system, one that has plenty of variation to keep you interested, and you’ve got a game that every gamer out there should own. Be brave and head right into it! It’s worth it, and I’m a wimpy fella…