This week, Josh from the Multiplayer Gaming Podcast got his hands on the Dead Space Remake. Check out the video and transcript below to see what he thought of the game and whether or not it’s worth picking up for the price tag of $60. Also, make sure to check out the podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Now onto the review!
I’m not a fan of remakes and remasters. I’ve said it many times that generally I think they’re cash grabs and I much prefer a new IP or new idea (even if it’s not executed perfectly) over a “remake” that’s nothing more than 4k textures and some UI changes. It’s rare that a remake grabs my attention enough to make me actually want to play it. That said, where I do think remakes can shine is when it’s an older classic game that may be past its window where new players can jump in and experience what made the game great “back in the day.”
With the colossal failure that was The Callisto Protocol, my hopes for the Dead Space Remake were honestly pretty low. Having played it and beaten it over the last several days, I’m here to tell you that this is one of the best remakes I’ve seen. It’s an obvious labor of love and any idea I had that this was just a cash grab has been completely washed away.
I won’t make you watch until the end to tell you I absolutely LOVED my time with the Dead Space Remake and I’m here to tell you if you’re like me and generally shy away from them, this one is an exception to that rule and you absolutely owe it to yourself to experience this masterclass in how to build a game that oozes atmosphere, invokes terror and keeps you glued to the experience like few games can.
So with that said, let’s dive a bit deeper into the Dead Space Remake and I’ll tell you why I think this game is worth checking out.
From the initial cut scene though the end credits, this game absolutely nails what it’s like to build an atmospheric horror game. I can’t remember a recent game that made me stop as often as I did in Dead Space and just look around and enjoy what was crafted for me. Cavernous rooms, tight hallways, utilitarian hubs and small rooms off the beaten path make the USG Ishimura believable and a joy to explore…if exploring a creepy spaceship over-run with horrific monsters and acts of unimaginable violence can be consider a joy.
Every single thing in this game just works to make you feel like you’re really in the heart of the USG Ishimura… and that’s not a pleasant place to be. From crackling sparks to beeping consoles, to water dripping, to the repetitive annoying crash of a door stuck opening and closing, it’s rare to have a game know exactly what it wants to convey, and then do it so well and so consistently. I absolutely took time to just look around and enjoy what had been crafted for me. The USG Ishimura is a place of nightmares and it was fantastic to experience. Ok, so they nailed the aesthetics… you get it, but you have to EXPERIENCE it to really get it. There’s so many little things that all come together.
Random events, jump scares, creepy rooms, new enemies, scenes of past horrors… it’s all there just waiting for you to stumble across and this game is filled with them and yet they remain just random enough that your guard is down each time you come across one.
How do we revive a game from 2008 to make it modern and accessible to gamers now without changing the heart of the game? You polish the heck out of all of it and add some very well done quality of life improvements. Ok, ok, polish is great and all, but how does it actually play?
Combat is visceral and intense, and while not overly difficult, you can adjust difficulty depending on your tastes. There’s a large assortment of weapons and upgrade paths available that add just enough variety to how you play to keep it fresh. A steady stream of new weapons, available upgrades and add-ons make you feel like you’re truly progressing and getting stronger and with the upgrade system for your suit and weapons, you feel like you’re achieving more than just obtaining credits and health packs. Combat focuses on taking down your enemy’s ability to do harm. In Dead Space, you don’t go for headshots, you go for the legs or the arms… or the tail thingy thing. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as shooting your enemies in the leg only to see flesh melt away and expose bone, or that bone to break and the creature fall to the ground. The first time I blew the skin off a creature with a new found weapon I audibly chuckled and nodded my thanks to the devs for thinking of these small things that make combat such a frantic, terrifying joy.
So about that survival horror thing?
You have both gear and inventory. Weapon slots allow you to pick and choose up to 4 active weapons and an upgradable suit allows you to add things like larger oxygen capacity, health, better/longer stasis, kinesis and more. Limited inventory slots serve to make you make that agonizing choice between the ability to heal or have more ammo. It sucks in theory, but having to make that choice only added to the sense of dread.
Stores dotted around the map allow you to purchase much needed ammo, health packs and weapon upgrades while upgrade benches display gear skill trees and various perks. It’s not necessary and honestly I’m not sure how much any of this actually changes the gameplay, but it kept me feeling like I was making progress and made looting every locker and chest I came across feel like it resulted in something rewarding.
I have to take a minute to talk about the sound design in this game. The sound design in this game is flawless. The binaural audio is top notch and I was constantly looking behind me as I’d hear whispers, singing, freaky sounds or just about any other creepy thing you could imagine hearing. Seriously, kudos to the audio team because this game isn’t just about looking great, it’s about the full experience and the audio plays a huge role in the immersion. I’d often find myself just standing still trying to make out the whispers, or looking behind me to see what just talked to me, only to find empty space. It added so much to the suspense and sense of terror you have to experience it to really appreciate it.
So what’s a horror game without a compelling story? Well rest assured, Dead Space doesn’t reinvent anything crazy here, but a haunted/infested creepy spaceship stranded out in the middle of nowhere is plenty scary enough. The story is solid and is supported very well by a great mix of characters, solid voice acting, interesting text logs, live video feeds, audio recordings and more and the story behind what actually happened on the USG Ishimura becomes more and more clear as you play.
While this game is fairly linear, some of the rooms of the USG Ishimura are very memorable and awe inspiring. Small storage rooms, bathrooms etc. allow you to head just off the main path and rooms are worth exploring for hidden crates, lockers etc. that reward you with ammo, credits or health packs. Firing up the engines, starting the centrifuge or even heading outside the hull are key moments I won’t soon forget.
Now no game is perfect and there were a few things I didn’t love but they were in no way game breaking. The classic “I need to be looking at this object just right for it to pop up the prompt to let me interact with it or pick it up exists” which can be a little frustrating. The USG Ishimura is a bit of a maze at times and you can’t sprint with the map open or interact with doors, so I found myself popping in and out of the map a bit more then I’d like. For a game with so much immersion that was a bit of a rough jolt at times and for all the neat weapons, I found some of them to be a bit over fancy and not nearly as effective as the good old plasma cutter. Minor gripes to be sure, but they’re there.
So this all sounds great, but is it worth it? Would I recommend it and how would I rate the Dead Space Remake?
We rate games based on a scale of make love, marry or murder. Make love is a game that’s great, enjoyable and worthwhile. Marry is a game you’ll go back to for hundreds of hours or left an impression so strong you’ll still be thinking about it long after you’ve finished. Murder is just that. Stay away at all costs.
The game clocks in at about 10-12 hours. The addition of side missions is honestly a great new feature and one I took advantage of. The game comes with a $60 price tag and is somewhat short so is it worth it? Absolutely. THIS is how you do a remake. This game was an absolute joy to play, to look at, to listen to and to lose myself in. If you know the original Dead Space, this game is an amazing homage to it and very well done. If you’ve never heard or seen Dead Space in your life, this game is an absolute banger of a survival horror game. I’m rating this game an easy make love. I’d marry it based on the quality alone, but it’s hard to marry a game that doesn’t have much replayability and is only 10-12 hours long but this game deserves to be experienced by everyone.
While I’m still not a fan of remakes, I’m a HUGE fan of this one and what Motive studios did with such a beloved game. These devs did what many can’t seem to do lately, and that’s release a finished game that’s well optimized, enjoyable and memorable.