After my long journey in Hogwarts Legacy, I went darker and finally played Dead Space. I never played the original, so I’m glad there’s a remake now as part of my EA Play Pro subscription. Loved all the world building Sci Fi when not scared by the creatures jumping out at me from vents and the ceiling.
Choosing Dead Space on my Backlog
I try to rotate between the various game subscription services I have, so it was time for an EA Play Pro game. Lucky for me, Dead Space is an EA game. The remake just came out this year, but long enough ago that all the prerequisite patches are in place.
There was even a Steam Deck fix for shader pre-caching, but that won’t help my EA Play Pro version of the game. I was able to setup the EA App and install Dead Space just fine on my Deck. Problem is actually playing the game has horrible pauses when turning.
Game is short enough (16 hour estimate and I completed in 17), so I settled to play it all on my gaming PC.
Going Dark in Dead Space
As dark as the game is, I really benefit from playing it in front of my Alienware OLED gaming monitor. The true blacks, HDR color and insane contrast ratio are key for a moody game like this. With light so scarce in most scenes, the monitor shows so much detail in the low light. Glad I’m playing without the blotches of brown and gray my old monitor would pump out for this game.
Speaking of the dark, moody and maybe brooding style of the game, the future doesn’t seem so bright. Right from the start, scenes are dimly lit with the only light coming from console screens and the future equivalent of yellowing florescent lighting. The visuals clued me in that lights will periodically go and bad things will happen.
The overall vibe of the game is a mix of movies like Aliens, Event Horizon and the Thing. Those necromorph monsters in the game remind me a lot the ones in the Thing, actually. Those spider-like limbs are just as creepy. The threat of them induce some interesting choices.
At one point, there was a choice to transfer power from either life support or the lights to power a switch. Light is so scarce and jump scares are a certainty, I chose to turn off the oxygen. I’d rather scramble for O2 than sacrifice what little light there is.
Beyond the slight dark phobia, I’m now paranoid of every air vent. The game often messed with me too. Sure the necromorphs often jumped out of those vents, but other times they’d blowout or spin out of control. It definitely kept me guessing and on edge.
Tools of the Dead
The necromorphs are literal bullet sponges. Shooting the head or torso is just a waste of ammo. Dismemberment is the key. Dead Space is now famous for their strategic dismemberment system and the go to Plasma Cutter tool. It’s a fun challenge at times and frantic scramble at others.
I’d opt to shoot out the legs first to slow them down to a literal crawl. From their I’d shoot out the arms. No surprise the game threw faster, tougher and wall crawling enemies at me later. Some of them were very annoying to deal with. After killing some of those, I’d mash the melee stomp button as extra revenge.
Stomping can fetch extra loot from down enemies, but it’s just as satisfying to stomp dead monsters into bits. It’s possible I stomped just as many times as Plasma Cutter blasts I shot, which is a lot. There’s also a melee punch mostly useful for opening boxes and breaking circuits.
Dead Space Stasis
Stasis was an essential space suit feature for slowing down enemies and machinery for puzzles. Although I upgraded that as much as possible, it felt like I ran out of it a low. Seems like when I most needed it, I was out. I learned to conserve that as much as possible later on.
The space suit also included a Force Energy to grab and throw items like a Jedi. That is sometimes useful for throwing explosive bottles at enemies and also for puzzle solving. Nothing like solving puzzles while monsters pop out of vents.
By the end of the game, I was surprised just how many weapons I accumulated. The Plasma Cutter is often the star of the show, but the game rotates the ammo pickups, forcing weapon rotation. Beyond the Plasma Cutter, there was the Ripper, Flamethrower, Contact Beam, Force Gun, Pulse Rifle and Line Gun.
The Ripper was an early favorite with it’s ability to levitate a spinning saw blade. It was great for tight quarters and crowd control. I’d spin up a blade and walk right into the monsters. A bit different that the back pedaling I did with the Plasma Cutter. Secondary fire for the Ripper was also useful with the ability to launch the saw blade with ricochet to cause extra damage.
Even though the Necromorphs are bullet sponges, the Pulse Rifle is useful for shooting limbs off. The secondary acting as a landmine/grenade was key for me dealing with groups of enemies. Reminded me of a weapon from Aliens.
Flamethrowers are always welcome, but I often used it as a setup weapon. Lit monsters on fire to weaken them, then finish them with other weapons. The wall of fire as the secondary fire I used a lot later in the game to surround myself with fire as partial defense.
The Contact Beam was a powerful energy weapon, but I mostly reserved that for longer range shots. It was most usefully during the end game fight for me. Sometimes that ball of energy in the secondary fire was a life saver when I ran out of ammo for other guns.
I definitely neglected Dead Space’s Force Gun. It’s great at pushing back enemies, but not with enough damage for my liking. The secondary fire proved more useful as a gravity well to hold enemies in a specific spot. As much as Stasis ran out for me, this was a nice backup.
The Line Launcher I loved. The primary fire basically launched a laser trip mine directly at enemies. It’s the secondary fire that really spoke to me. With that, I placed actual laser trip wires. They damaged enemies and often knocked them back. A super useful tool to cutting at their legs and slow them down.
When the game hinted at an impending rush of enemies, I’d place those lasers all around me as my safe space. If the game didn’t throw monsters at me, the line launcher let me disable and pickup the unspent lasers. Basically it let me setup a defensive perimeter anywhere.
Dead Space Story of Religion and Science Merging
There’s no surprise that a giant spaceship that finds an alien artifact is doomed. It’s also no surprise a rescue mission goes south and needs it’s own rescue. What was surprising is how science and religion are equally important for a lot of people on the ship.
Dead Space’s religion, Unitology, is obsessed with the Marker, their name for the alien artifact. They seem like a very harcore version of Scientology. In fact, the treatment of those that try to turn away from the church reminds me exactly of that.
Exploring the religious science zealot’s sick experiments when I’m not escaping necromorphs is a big plus for this game. I enjoyed unraveling what exactly happened on the ship and to it’s people. As part of that journey, I also loved fixing the ship’s systems to restore order and find a way out.
After all, the player character, Isaac Clarke, is an engineer. No surprise many of the main missions involved fixing systems, restoring power and other engineering feats. Big difference in this game is all the monsters in the way of that maintenance.
Chasing Escape or Your Wife?
On my way to the end, I searched for Isaac’s scientist wife while working on ways off the ship. There was betrayal, madness and always fight or flight choices. My least favorite parts involved the Hunter. An invincible enemy that I could only evade and escape.
Not fun running, using Stasis and running again. The unique ways to temporarily and then permanently dispose of the Hunter were nice touches though. I won’t spoil those moments, but they both involved science and a flip of a switch. So satisfying to be rid of the annoying monster using science.
The twists and turns with the Marker and the people around me were great. I’m not a big horror movie guy, so the jump scares are not my favorite thing, but no regrets playing to the end. I won’t jump into the sequels anytime soon, so I hope they remake those, as well. Now onto my gaming backlog …