Dead Space preview: Scares that remind you of other great horror remakes


DEAD Space’s ship, the USG Ishimura, is an oppressive planet-destroying industrial machine.

It was the same in the 2008 original, but with advances in graphical and audio technology, the fear has ramped up significantly.

It’s Dead Space but not as we know it.

Broken doors slam together angrily, while the walls hiss with steam, and the onboard computers spark with disuse.

Everything assaults your senses, and it’s impossible to pick out from which direction each clang comes.

Combined with the necromorphs stalking you about the shift, it becomes hard to discern the drip of water from a leaking pipe, from the patter of their feet.

Sounds bounce off the walls around you, compounded by the whispers heard inside your head.

You feel so small in the vastness of the transport; the smallness rattles around inside you.

It’s laid out exactly how you remember, but the improved graphics add to the terrifying atmosphere.

Visual updates render clouds of steam that obscure your view, the flash of emergency lights and the ominous shadows they cast.

Details such as the spinning of a ventilation fan can seem like something scuttling out of the corner of your view.

Art Director Mike Yazijian says: “There’s a lot of evocative things there. 

“In the audio experience, the volumetric lights, and that’s also tied into the gameplay systems.”

Creative director Roman Campos-Oriola adds: “When you have sparks and those little pieces fall on the armour and fall on the ground, each of those are physics-based, and they also cast light and have shadows.”

Dead Space doesn’t take inspiration from other survival horror games so much as taking inspiration from itself.

The team went right back to the original game’s concept art, and watched movies like Alien and Event Horizon.

Then they thought of new ways they could improve on the original game’s best parts.

Part of this improvement is the all-new “peeling system”, which is exactly what you think it is.

The necromorphs are humans that have transformed and sprouted new limbs and claws.

You have to focus on taking these extras off quickly using plasma cutters, or stomping them to death with heavy gravity boots.

Each weapon has a different function; some cut off limbs, some peel, and others crush.

Adding to your role as an engineer, there is a whole new series of fuse-based puzzles where you can sacrifice certain machines to activate others.

This means you might have to sacrifice the lights in order to power up the elevator and move location.

One of the more controversial changes is that the protagonist now has a character, making him feel like the Issac Clarke that appears in the other games in the series.

Within just a few hours you will see his face and hear him speak.

While his looks aren’t anything to write home about, they’ve made him quippy like Nathan Drake.

He’s a man with a plan, which makes sense as he’s an engineer on a busted ship.

Campos-Oriola explains: “The thing we did not want it to break is the isolation.

“So our rule is that Isaac only talks when he’s being talked to. So you have a discussion, you’re not gonna speak anymore. 

“You’re in that dark corridor, you hear some monster in the wall, Isaac’s not gonna go, ‘Ahh, what the f**k is that?’”

There is a new AI ‘intensity director’ which changes each area every time you go through it.

The tension ramps up every time you re-enter the area, to ensure you never quite feel safe.

This could be something as simple as an audio scare, but something in the environment could change too.

Campos-Oriola says: “Sometimes it can be just ambiance, like a fan will start to spin, it sparkles, and that’s it.

“And sometimes there’s actually going to be a monster going through that fan. It will be dynamic. 

“There are also a lot of places in between situations where it’s activated, but it doesn’t necessarily spawn an enemy. It plays with the lights, it plays with the sound.”

Despite all these changes, the gameplay is still very much as you remember it.

The frame rate is smoother, and the character control is more slick, but Isaac still has the limited mobility you’d expect from a man in a full suit of armour.

Carrying over from the original release, every shot has to be precise, and abilities such as telekinesis can be used to conserve ammo.

However, there are now more options to upgrade each weapon through upgrade trees.

Dead Space will be released for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on January 27.

Written by Kirk McKeand and Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.


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