Around Thanksgiving time 2008, I had just quit working at GameStop and my best friend at the time still worked there. She picked up Dead Space on a whim because it was a new release and she was having a hard time beating it. She told me she wanted me to try it and see if I could get past this one part (I think it was Chapter 4 with the ADC Cannon minigame) and then give it back to her. I agreed, took the game, and let it sit there for a few days.
Thanksgiving came and I had nothing to do while all my family arrived and prepared for dinner, so I thought “Why not start that game?” I popped it into my Xbox 360 and was immediately absorbed into it. I literally did not stop playing the game until I beat it. I had finished it in one sitting during Thanksgiving because I was SO into the game. I called my friend up the next day to tell her what I did and she was pissed that I had such an easy time getting past that part. We laughed about it, I got my own copy of the game, and worked on getting 100% of the achievements.
Fast forward 4 years, I was living in a house with some college friends and I had just moved all of my belongings in. Dead Space 2 had been out for a little while and my new roommate had wanted to try it, so I hooked it up for him. I was beat, so I let him play while I went to sleep. Low and behold, the next morning my Xbox 360 was totally fried with the Red Ring of Death. I. Was. Pissed. But, there was nothing I could do about it so I accepted the fate of my system and moved on. A few years went by and I bought a PS3. By this time, Dead Space 3 had come out and I bought it on release day, but I didn’t care for it very much.
Dead Space was always on my mind though, because it had such a great story to me. Since the first game had come out, I’d seen two of the animated films, read the first novel, and even got retweeted by the developers during the launch hype for Dead Space 3. That in itself made me have a little spaz attack because I was like “Oh man! This is like a total fangasm!” I wasn’t playing the games anymore though. I had tried multiple playthroughs on PC for my YouTube and Twitch pages, but never finished them because I got burned out. I finally convinced myself to purchase Dead Space again on the PS3 and work through the Trophies to kind of finalize my relationship with the game.
I started playing the game and was brought back to the haunting, lonely, and suffocating halls of the Ishimura. After some setbacks (like selling my PS3) and burnout, I finally pushed myself to finish the game and get the 100% trophy. I feel so accomplished with this! Like I have a little badge of honor on my account that says “Hey! You did this!” This is part of my 2016 12 in 12 challenge, which you can read more about here. In honor of beating it, I’d like to make a tiny review. I may even do it in video form later. Alas – the review!
The story takes place on the USG Ishimura. Isaac Clarke and crew are on their way to investigate a distress call from the ship. Isaac is also there on a rescue mission because his girlfriend, Nicole, sent him a video telling him that something wrong was happening. Soon after arrival, there are very clear signs that something is up and you are immediately thrust into an engrossing and exhilarating story.
Isaac Clarke is a silent protagonist in this game, and very rarely do you see him outside of his Engineering Suit. When you do get to see him without his helmet on, he is not hard on the eyes.He’s giving some real daddy vibes…mostly because he is quite old for a video game protagonist. The Dead Space wiki lists him as 49, but I think in Dead Space he is 46.
I rather enjoyed the silent protagonist in this game, as it really enhanced the loneliness and isolated feel of the derelict spaceship. Isaac is a smart guy too – his profession is a spacecraft engineer, but he very quickly picks up on survival skills and manages to make it through the story alive. One thing I found humorous though was the juxtaposition of his profession and decisions he had to make in the game. I would think that being an engineer, he has had a ton of training regarding workplace safety. However, he very casually does things like entering a flaming elevator or shooting a gun in rooms filled with flammable gas. Whatever, he’s just a badass.
Let’s take a quick look at some pros and cons.
- Inventory. I love how the inventory is laid out cleanly and I love the challenge presented in trying to access your inventory during heavy action scenes.
- Controls. Each button feels solid and meaningful, and the controls never feel cumbersome or overly complicated.
- Atmosphere. This game is legit scary the first and maybe second time you play it. With the weird religious talks, the creepy electronic malfunctions and hallucinations…not to mention all the necromorphs.
- Individuality. The game can be played how you want to play it. You can choose to carry between 1 and 4 weapons, none of which are mandatory for you to use. There are 8 weapons total in the game and each one has a different use.
- Immersion. This game has a neat sense of immersion, because it feels that everything in the game reveals some kind of plot, secret, or interesting tidbit. As the story unfolds and you progress in the game, you start seeing little hints as to what is going on. On your 2nd and 3rd playthrough, you can also pickup really blaring hints as to what is happening on the Ishimura and with the characters. It was a really interesting way to push the narrative and I enjoyed it.
- Tentacle Challenges. This is the WORST. There are parts in this game where giant tentacles will grab you and drag you to your doom. Your only way to escape is by shooting these glowing yellow pustules near the middle of the tentacle. The problem is that when you are grabbed, you become disoriented and your perspective is shifted, making aiming quite hard.
- Random Sound Effects. Having just played through the game twice, I have this fresh in my mind. It seemed like I would regularly hear the sound of an item popping up for pickup as I walked the halls of the Ishimura. However, there were no items around me. At first I just let it go but by the end of my 3rd playthrough I was pretty irritated that this kept happening and there was nothing to pick up.
- Stasis Hit Box. One of the only frustrating things about the controls that I have to say is that the stasis hit box seemed very, very small. More often than not I would nail every gun shot I fired but when I tried to fire a stasis shot, it would just sail past the enemy and freeze some inanimate object like a trashcan or IV pole.
- Door Loading. I am not sure if this has to do with the game loading or what, but when I’m sailing through my objectives and then I have to sit there and wait 20 seconds for a door to open…nah, bro.
Overall, I can only really say positive things about this game. It was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone looking for an old gem on last generation’s consoles. I’ll be continuing my 12in12 challenge with Dead Space 2, which I’m starting tonight after a few hours break from beating Dead Space. Wish me luck!