Dead Space Remake Review – A Magnificent Modern Mutation

Dead Space Remake Review

Remaking a classic is a daunting task. Not only do the developers need to remain faithful to the source material, but they also need to refine and add elements to modernize the game. Capcom has found the perfect formula for Resident Evil by stripping away aging mechanics and reimaging the titles from a different perspective. With Dead Space, the original still holds up, so what can Motive Studio do to enhance the experience?

You take on the role of Isaac, an engineer, who accepts a seemingly routine repair mission for the USG Ishimura. Looking to make contact with his girlfriend, Nicole, after an extensive duration apart, you soon discover that the ship is devoid of human life. With the hope of locating your significant other, you explore a Necromorph-infested environment where danger lurks in every anxiety-ridden corridor. While the story follows the same path as the original, minor deviations and alterations improve the delivery. The intimate continuous single camera increases the intensity of pivotal plot points to make certain sequences carry more weight. Although the differences are only slight, they develop the characters and the lore.

Finding Your Voice

In the original, Isaac was a silent protagonist which made him come across as obedient. Objectives were sent and he simply did as he was told without hesitation. This was changed for the sequels and thankfully, Motive Studio decided to alter this for the remake. Gunner Wright returns to the role and adds subtle but realistic reactions which help to anchor the character within the world.

The USG Ishimura is teeming with atmosphere. Scars of the past litter each room to tell a sadistic story of the events that occurred before your arrival. This creates an unsettling climate that festers and spreads with each tentative step. Limbs and remains decorate the monochromatic interiors while lights flicker to cause unnerving shadows that linger in your psyche. A new feature that enhances this is the Circuit Breaker. To gain access to particular parts of the ship, you will need to reroute power from one area to another. This offers moments of panic as you can turn off the lights or even life support and scramble towards your destination.

In order to further raise those stress levels, Dead Space also features an Intensity Director. This means that the game can read the situation and initiate a variety of factors to make your trek through an infested spaceship even more uncomfortable. Depending on a number of elements, dynamic events such as new enemies and environmental hazards can trigger. This makes scares more organic and gives repeat playthroughs their own flavor.

Removing Restrictions

With the USG Ishimura now fully interconnected, you can traipse throughout the entirety of the ship. Chapters no longer signal a break in the action which helps the game maintain a delicious pace. As you cautiously explore, you’ll encounter doors and areas that require security clearance levels. This gives you the incentive to revisit places in order to acquire precious resources to support you on your quest. Some areas you will naturally revisit, whereas others will require you to backtrack. With the tram still operational, you can take this rather than head through the myriad of corridors. 

Where the original showed innovation with its approach to dismemberment, the remake evolves the notion with the inclusion of the Peeling system. Even though your goal to cut off each limb remains, the implementation of this includes a blood-curdling layer of realism. You will literally hack through the muscle and fat of creatures until you expose the bone. While this may sound like needless gore, it’s actually a unique method of indicating an enemy’s health in a non-intrusive manner. This also lends itself to further experimentation with weapons. You can incinerate the flesh of Necromorphs with a flamethrower and then carve through their skeleton with the Ripper to conduct a grotesque symphony of violence.

Weapons have also been improved with most including a secondary feature. The Pulse Rifle allows you to shoot a proximity mine whereas the flamethrower can create a wall of fire. The inclusion of these aspects gives you more options which add variety to encounters. Further modifications can give weapons special functions which continue to evolve your firearms. Combining this, with the ability to use kinesis to impale enemies with amputated body parts creates an enthralling experience on the battlefield.

Freedom Flight

Zero gravity sequences in the original were quite basic. You could simply move from one platform to another in order to reach your objective. The remake vastly improves these segments by giving you full control of Isaac. Due to this, sequences have been redesigned to take advantage of Isaac’s newfound freedom. Even though it doesn’t deviate too far from the original, it certainly improves key moments.

Dead Space is a cult classic that is considered one of the greatest horror games in the medium. Some may argue that the game didn’t require a remake, however, Motive Studios are faithful in its approach and improves on the original. Although the visual update makes each step a disquieting nightmare, the enhancements made to the combat and narrative are what make the real difference. While the game carefully follows the path laid by the original, the number of refinements makes this the definitive version.

***PS5 code provided by the publisher for review***

The Good

  • Visceral Combat
  • Gory Peeling System
  • Improved Narrative

The Bad

  • Very Similar to the Original
  • The Story is Still Conventional
  • Some Repetitive Quests