If there is one thing that is not missing in the modern gaming scene, it is remasters/remakes. For over a decade or so now, various publishers have loaded their catalogue with games from past generations, which have been reworked to stand decently in each generation they release. This tactic pays off financially, since the risk is relatively small compared to developing a new title, but we have witnessed more than a few "cash-grabs" of very poor quality re-releases. Of course, a giant like EA could not be missing from this "fair". However, the company has shown in recent years that it is gaining its foothold when it comes to developing single player titles, so what better way to do so than to release a new version of the beloved Dead Space?
Although we were happy to hear the news that EA was back on the franchise after the controversial Dead Space 3, the truth is that it didn't look like a game that was hungry for a revamp. The original 2008 version is still very playable today, so we assumed EA was just trying to reintroduce the same game to the new generation. However, Motive, the development team that took on the project, had a different take and is presenting a Dead Space as it would first be released in 2023. That is, by fixing whatever problems the original game had, but also improving several elements of the game, such as the narrative and combat, this... year's Dead Space is perhaps the most balanced remake ever.
What do we mean by that? First of all, the presentation of the new Dead Space is a bit different from the original, with the main difference being that the protagonist Isaac Clarke has a face and a voice and now interacts with his interlocutors. Besides that, there have been several minor changes to the appearance and demise of some characters, which do not noticeably affect the plot, but create a more, shall we say, "Hollywoodian" situation. As such, the remake may not manage to capture the lonely pulse of the original created by the silence of our engineer, but the fact that Isaac now speaks and is no longer a bland avatar gives a more convincing approach to the goings-on in USG Ishimura.
For those who were not familiar with the original game, we should briefly mention that Dead Space is set in the distant 2508, where technology has reached such a high level that mankind has created huge spaceships, capable of mining entire planets. This is absolutely necessary, as Earth's natural resources have long since dried up.
One such spacecraft is the USG Ishimura, which during a routine mining operation, suddenly began to emit an SOS. Engineer Isaac Clarke, along with three other crew members of the support craft they were aboard, were sent there to investigate the cause of the distress call. What they find there will surpass their worst nightmares. Overall, the premise of Dead Space is well executed, along the lines of a good sci-fi horror film like Alien and Event Horizon. It doesn't particularly innovate, but it does what it presents so well that it's now considered a landmark game for the genre.
Undoubtedly, one of the reasons for this was the terrifying portrayal of Necromorphs, the enemy monsters that accompany us every step of the way, combined with the high quality gameplay that was clearly influenced by the relatively recent, for that time, Resident Evil 4 (ironically, this year we are also expecting the remake of Resident Evil 4). The idea of taking out enemies based on the careful amputation of their limbs was at once creepy, twisted and genius. Consequently, the blood spilled fills entire... swimming pools and the general element of gore is so pervasive that only the recent Callisto Protocol managed to surpass it.
The remake doesn't stray from the elements that made it so successful. The combat system is excellent, fast, requires strategy and smart management of our ammunition, and always manages to keep us on our toes, as a very interesting system called "Intensity Director" has been implemented. This system "learns" our play style, as well as how well or badly we have done, and adjusts the obstacles and/or loot that will be presented next accordingly.
So we might suddenly get hit by a monster that... wasn't in the script or if we're dying, the next Necromorph we kill might give us a valuable health kit. The system works pretty well at keeping us constantly on edge, especially in the early stages when we have relatively light equipment and aren't as resistant to being hit. However, there are no shortage of annoying moments when monsters suddenly come at our backs after we had previously cleared that spot, leading to some "cheap" jump scares. At least we have the music and howls of the Necromorphs to warn us.
In general, the combat element is one of the game's strongest points, as the weapon element has been enhanced, as well as the way to upgrade them. Especially with the various optional upgrade kits that can be found, we can significantly change their firepower, based on the well-known tree system with upgrade nodes. I mentioned "optional" because the remake is getting pretty close to metroidvania paths, due to Ishimura's structure. There are no more loading screens, we can easily return to previous locations via the tram, and the various rooms and/or chests locked behind security levels (which we unlock later) "scream" for thorough exploration of the spaceship.
Of course, it doesn't mean we can't complete the game without engaging in optional exploration, far from it. However, the game rewards us if we do attempt it, with more loot (which you know how valuable it is in a survival horror game) and credits to spend in the store, and we can discover and take on certain side missions. The latter are mainly in the role of enriching the lore, which is generally enhanced both by the dozens of text and audio logs we can collect, and by the improved narrative in the cinematic parts, as we've already written about before.
If there's one thing we particularly liked in the exploration section it's the zero gravity sections, which now work like in the next Dead Space and are enjoyable (see Leviathan boss), and it's a great idea that the game often puts us in the uncomfortable position of having to make choices. For example, we may find ourselves facing a panel where we have to activate a certain facility, but this results in another being disabled. As an example, we may need to electrify an important door to continue our journey, sacrificing the lights or oxygen in the area in question. Therefore, it is clearly up to us how we continue, while dealing with the consequences of our choice. Insufficient lighting means we may not see Necromorphs approaching in time with ferocious intentions, while lack of oxygen means we will have time constraints on our movements. You pick and choose.
Beyond that, the mechanics of the remake don't stray significantly from the original, which brings us to the initial conclusion of the review, that this is probably the most balanced remake we've seen so far. Because, it doesn't alter and respects the character that made it famous, brings it evenly into the current era without showing its age anywhere, while at the same time fixing most (if not all) of the "wrongs" that the original had. Truly commendable work by Motive and we appreciate that they should be given the opportunity to develop a future Dead Space 4.
We have not mentioned at all the technical area, which is of course excellent. It may not reach the highest level of Callisto Protocol, but it's impressive, artistically gorgeous, with the lighting giving it a run for its money and the Frostbite Engine proving once again that it's one of the most powerful graphics engines out there. And the requirements are within reasonable limits and we didn't face any particular problems, either with the 1660 Ti we tested initially (with a lot of compromises of course) or the 3060 Ti, which comfortably managed it to ultra settings at 1080p resolution.
It goes without saying that in terms of sound, Dead Space delivers what a horror game should have: ambient sounds that make your hair stand on end, howls and screams that play with your nerves, musical strings that raise your pulse, everything is within the specifications of an AAA title.
As a result, the remake of Dead Space is one of those that has a reason to exist and offers a strong experience for the player. If you're a new player and this is your first time with the game, you'll be very much impressed, while those who played the original Dead Space will feel familiar, but the improvements are so spot on that they will push you to relive the nightmare all over again. Dare you?
Many thanks to Bandai Namco Entertainment Hellas for providing the review code.
RATING - 86%
A thoughtful remake of one of the best horrors of the '00s.
Από την άλλη, ίσως είμαι σαν τους ρετροπιξελούμπες, και για αυτό δεν με ενοχλούν τα γραφικά, αν και θεωρώ μετά το 2007 ότι έχει βγει μπορεί να σταθεί ακόμα στα πόδια του αν είναι καλό παιχνίδι.
Το RT που έχει τι λέει? Ούτε καν έγινε απόπειρα να φανταστώ?