Dead Space Remake Review
In 2008, Visceral Games released Dead Space, a sci-fi survival-horror game that played like Resident Evil 4 in space. Dead Space was an immediate hit, spawning a media franchise and becoming one of the most beloved survival-horror games of its generation. Dead Space 2 was similarly well-received, though things got off the rails a bit with Dead Space 3, to the point where EA ultimately decided to put the franchise on ice. No new Dead Space game has been seen in a decade, but now the franchise is back with an excellent remake of the original game.
Dead Space is not a 1:1 remake. It delivers an experience that is near-identical to the 2008 original in many respects, but with a slew of notable changes. For example, the original Dead Space had a divisive segment where players manned a turret to destroy incoming asteroids that has been significantly altered in the remake. The turret is gone completely, and in its place is a segment where Isaac has to actually venture outside the USG Ishimura to calibrate the ship’s targeting system. Necromorphs breathing down his neck and an ever-depleting oxygen supply ensure that there’s a great deal of tension in this reworked section of the game, meaning few will be sad to see the turret go.
Players will also discover that the Dead Space remake completely reworks Zero-G sections. The Dead Space remake takes its cues from Dead Space 2 and 3 when it comes to Zero-G, allowing Isaac to freely fly around whenever he finds himself in a no-gravity situation. This gives players the opportunity to approach familiar challenges from a different angle, and also helps to make certain areas much more fun than they were in the 2008 version.
There are other changes hardcore Dead Space fans will notice when making their way through the remake but perhaps the biggest difference between the remake and the 2008 game is that Isaac now has a voice, necessitating new dialogue that in turn results in expanded lore for the game. Players learn more about Isaac’s backstory, his relationship with girlfriend Dr. Nicole Brennan, and more. This all adds up to make Isaac a more interesting protagonist than he was in the original game.
Instead of doing the risky thing and messing with the original Dead Space’s story, Motive Studio instead focused on expanding on what was already established. Besides Isaac’s new dialogue, this is also accomplished through side quests that players can pursue while exploring the USG Ishimura. These give players deeper insight into some of Dead Space’s background characters, and while there aren’t many to complete, the side quests are all worth pursuing. The story revelations players get from the side quests are nothing groundbreaking, but they give more insight into exactly what happened on the ship and lead to new areas with helpful loot that players need to survive.
Many survival horror games ask players to conserve ammo and avoid conflict whenever possible, but Dead Space often forces players into direct confrontation with its twisted necromorph monsters. Isaac has a healthy arsenal of weapons to help him fight these creatures, though nothing beats the game’s iconic Plasma Cutter. As it was in the original game, an upgraded Plasma Cutter is arguably the best tool at Isaac’s disposal, and as long as players upgrade it enough, they can use it to decimate necromorphs with ease.
Early in the game, players gain access to stasis and kinesis abilities that greatly expand Isaac’s combat options beyond simply shooting everything. With stasis, Isaac can essentially freeze necromorphs in time, slowing their movements to a crawl and leaving them extremely vulnerable. This is great for faster enemies that players struggle to line up shots on, and it’s also a handy tool for whenever Isaac finds himself in a rough spot and needs to reposition. Kinesis, meanwhile, is primarily used for puzzle solving, but it can also be weaponized, with Isaac able to throw explosive canisters at enemies as well as their own sharpened, dismembered limbs.
Dead Space combat is all about dismembering necromorphs, with the game throwing a healthy variety of necromorph creatures at Isaac to ensure things stay fresh from start to finish. There are some truly gruesome designs, though admittedly, familiarity with the monsters has made them lose some of their luster over the years. Anyone that’s played the original Dead Space may be disappointed to discover that the remake doesn’t really succeed at being scary, especially since players can trivialize combat if they focus on upgrading the Plasma Cutter and their suit.
Hardcore Dead Space fans in need of a greater challenge can crank up the difficulty to Hard or Impossible mode. And this time around, it’s possible for Dead Space players to complete the game on a lower difficulty and then start their New Game+ save on a higher one. This functionality wasn’t present in the original Dead Space, so its inclusion in the Dead Space remake is certainly appreciated and helps boost the game’s replay value that much more.
Dead Space has always hit it out of the park when it comes to replayability, and unsurprisingly, the Dead Space remake continues the streak. It offers multiple difficulty options, collectibles, New Game+, side quests, hidden areas, and some unique challenges for those who decide to go after all of Dead Space’s achievements/trophies. The memorable challenge to complete the entire game using only the Plasma Cutter is back for the remake, with some new challenges added to keep players on their toes.
Some fans may come away underwhelmed by how little the side quests really add to the experience, however. On Medium difficulty, we managed to beat the main story and every side quest available in the first playthrough, all using only the Plasma Cutter, in a little over eight hours. However, there are some things in the Dead Space remake that players won’t get to see until they start their New Game+ run, including an alternate ending, so the game makes up for its short length by making sure players have plenty of reason to keep playing long after their first time through the Ishimura.
As players explore the USG Ishimura, they will find it hard not to be impressed by the game’s cutting-edge graphics. The Dead Space remake looks and performs great, with atmospheric lighting effects, horrific animations, and some genuinely jaw-dropping sites when Isaac finds himself exploring the vacuum of space. It’s a hauntingly beautiful game that pushes the visual forwards in a big way without stepping on the distinct art style that the original game established.
The original Dead Space was not without its flaws, of course, and unfortunately, some of those flaws have wormed their way into the Dead Space remake. While Motive Studio chopped out the frustrating turret section, it left in the backtracking, elevator rides, and infamously tedious ending sequence that dragged down the pacing of the original back in the day. Doing away with some of these elements would have required a significant reworking of the game, so it’s not surprising that they’re still intact, but they are at least made a little more tolerable this time around thanks to things like Zero-G allowing for faster navigation in some areas and the handy new map.
Motive Studio has reworked Dead Space’s map for the remake, abandoning the confusing 3D map for a simple 2D one that is infinitely easier to navigate. The new map goes a long way in helping Dead Space remake players keep track of objectives, locked chests, and doors, allowing them to more easily explore the USG Ishimura and uncover all its secrets.
The USG Ishimura is one huge, connected space in the Dead Space remake with no loading screens, whereas it was much more segmented in the original game. Locked chests requiring specific security clearance and side quests both give players good reason to revisit areas they’ve previously explored, and while this doesn’t help the game’s issues with backtracking, it does at least ensure that players are rewarded for going out of their way to explore.
The Dead Space remake improves on the 2008 original in every category, offering quality-of-life improvements, new story content, side quests, and dramatically upgraded graphics. It’s Dead Space, but better, and many fans will be happy to see this classic survival horror experience get the modern makeover it deserves.
Dead Space launches January 27 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. Today Technology was provided with a PS5 code for this review.