The original Dead Space is a horror classic from the PS3/Xbox 360 days, and we’d been eager to find out how it would hold up in a remake. Motive, together with EA, is here to show us – here are our thoughts on the PlayStation 5 version of the game.
We know that the gaming industry is full of remakes, sequels and reboots these days, but we’ve been waiting for a follow-up to Dead Space 3 for a decade now. From that perspective it’s almost ironic that within the score of a little over a month we get both a spiritual successor in The Callisto Protocol and a remake of the original game – simply titled Dead Space.
This new remake updates both the visuals and the mechanics of the game, but retains its soul and content. That includes protagonist Isaac Clark, who looks fantastic thanks to the use of the Frostbite engine. Light and smoke bounce off his metal armor, and the lights of his suit and helmet pierce the darkness. With ray tracing turned on, this pushes the atmosphere’s fear and dread to new levels – especially when you hook things up to a surround sound system. Turn off the layer of shine that ray tracing offers and some might argue that Dead Space looks like it could have run on a PS4 as well, but there’s no denying the strong atmosphere that’s on display here.
This is especially apparent when (in-game) lights suddenly get turned off and you only have your flashlight to rely on. The panic is palpable once enemies start to approach and attack you, and while you reload you completely lose sight of them because your light is mounted on your gun. It’s the kind of impact that Dead Space always delivered, but these confrontations have been made more dynamic this time around – monsters might head back into the shadow only to attack later, and slight changes to the level designs only add to this unpredictable nature. Dead Space is still a fairly linear adventure, but it’s these small nuances that are undeniable improvements.
Combat feels very similar on a base mechanical level, casting Isaac once again as an engineer rather than a nimble space marine – using tools in combat rather than the more typical cover shooter mechanics seen elsewhere. This allows him to tear his enemies apart, which becomes ever more visceral this time because monsters can now lose parts of their skin or even entire body parts in combat. Isaac himself can also upgrade his arsenal, and even use a couple of weapons that weren’t in the original game – further diversifying the combat and your options therein.
And although we mentioned that Dead Space is still mostly linear, it’s nice to see that the original game’s rather limited outdoor/zero-g sections have been designed to allow for more freedom of movements. Which makes complete sense in the context of the vastness of space, but was obviously not as easy to do fifteen years ago. The narrative is generally the same, but they’ve built out the background stories a little more this time around – with an additional ending available to those who complete the New Game Plus campaign after doing the main story. And this isn’t just done through simple logs that you can find – it’s done organically, by making all the characters more lifelike both visually and in the dialogues they engage in.
On the PlayStation 5, the game performs well and the DualSense support is an additional bonus in terms of atmosphere. And while we’re still quite eager to play a new game in the series, if this is the standard they’re going to use then we’d happily play through remake of Dead Space 2 and 3 as well.
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