Dead Space (2023) – Game Review

The Dead Space remake is out, and goddamn it’s great to be back in the blood and gore-splattered corridors of the USG Ishimura. With the abject failures of Warcraft 3: Reforged and the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy looming large in gamers recent memories, it’s fair to say that there was a deal of anticipation and nervousness about this remake.

Pre-release footage looked good, but there’s many a slip betwixt cup and lip, as the saying goes. There was still all the time in the world for things to go wrong and I’m pleased to be able to say that any doubts of worries you might have had? You can forget them.

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Full respect must be given to both EA and Motive for producing a simply stellar remake/update of the original 2008 Dead Space. More than just a graphical update, this is a root and branch remake that holds true to the spirit, tone and atmosphere of the original while bringing it bang up to date with stunning visuals, solid gameplay and plenty of little quality of life tweaks that get rid of some of the more irritating parts of the original Dead Space. I’m looking at you, asteroid turret section.

For those of you who have never played it, let’s quickly cover the plot. You are Isaac Clarke (Gunner Wright) – Space Mechanic. And yes, his name is a nod to sci-fi luminaries Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. You and your companions are the crew of the USG Kellion, a repair and rescue ship, answering a distress call from the Ishimura. Isaac has a little more skin in the game than the other characters because his girlfriend Nicole (Tanya Clarke) is serving as the ship’s medical officer so this is also hopefully going to be a reunion between the two.

EA Games

Arriving at the Ishimura it quickly becomes obvious that strange things are afoot at the Circle-K. The ship appears dead in space, no lights, no communications, and an attempt to dock sees the Kellion nearly destroyed, crash landing instead inside the hangar. Isaac and the others head out to both repair their ship and see what’s afoot aboard this massive “planet cracker” ship. What they find is blood everywhere, dismembered body parts, and writing scrawled on the wall that suggests that things are very, very not right. In fact, from the game starting up it takes less than ten minutes for shit to be well and truly fucked and the real story begins.

The biggest selling point of Dead Space back in the day, and a feature that still holds up today, is that you can’t simply shoot your enemies. No fancy headshots here. Don’t go for the centre mass, you’ll just piss them off. This game is all about dismemberment, with an array of weapons from the humble plasma cutter to the ripper and the line gun that are designed to let you slice arms, legs, tails and tentacles off the many, MANY things aboard the Ishimura that would dearly love to introduce Isaac to their assorted sharp, stabby body parts.

EA Games

Part survival horror, part shooter, stepping into the remake felt like slipping on an old pair of comfortable shoes. Fans of the original will feel right at home here, though they might find the fact that Isaac is now fully voiced a little jarring to begin with. In the original game he was a silent protagonist, limiting himself to grunts and cries but otherwise stoically slogging through everything the game threw at him. Here though, as with Dead Space 2 and 3, he’s fully voiced and an active participant in events. They even got the original voice actor, Gunner Wright, back to voice him here, and updated the character model to look more like him and less like actor Mark Shippee as he did in the 2008 version.

If I had to find fault with it, I will say that I’ve been struggling with some particularly nasty moments of slowdown on my home PC. With a Ryzen 5800 and a RTX 3070 running in full 5120×1440 resolution, the game plays buttery smooth 90% of the time. The other 10%, however, it suddenly drops down to a couple of frames every second. It seems to mostly happen during cut scenes, which is annoying! There have been no patches (no day one patch? INCONCEIVABLE!), and Nvidia have yet to release any specific new drivers, so maybe there are performance improvements to be made here.

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What else is there to say? It’s Dead Space. Motive took an already great game and made it even better and you should buy it. This shows that remakes of games don’t need to be heartless, greed-driven cash grabs that just take advantage of fan nostalgia and that should be supported and applauded. Now if you’ll excuse me, Isaac and I need to go see what’s banging around down on the Engineering deck. I’m sure it’s just some loose equipment…. right?

Dead Space is out now on multiple platforms from EA Games.

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