Monday, July 20, 2009

Dead Space review

In space no one can hear scream, but if you're playing Dead Space alone at night in the dark....someone might!
Take the two movies Aliens and Event Horizon and you pretty much have a winning formula for a survival horror game. Dead Space may not be ground breaking in originality but it does such a good job with the surviving and horrifying that it really doesn't matter.
You play Isaac Clarke a member of the USG Kellion sent by the CEC (Concordance Extraction Corporation) to investigate a distress signal broadcast by the USG Ishimura at Aegis VII. Isaac's girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, works aboard the Ishimura as a medical specialist. Isaac has saved a portion of her last transmission which cryptically reveals there is a serious problem aboard the Ishimura.
The simple repair job turns into a living nightmare when a malfunction aboard the Kellion causes them to crash land in the Ishimura's docking bay and stranding them aboard the giant ship.
At first the Ishimura seems abandoned but the repair team quickly discovers they're not alone! Isaac gets separated from Kendra and Zach the teams tech specialist and mission leader respectively when they are attacked my a necromorph.
As you delve deeper into the mysteries and horrors aboard the Ishimura the story unravels and it's actually pretty well developed. You learn about Michael Altman, founder of the Church of Unitology, a cult religion that grew to become extremely influential back on Earth. The Marker discovered on Aegis VII which was believed by many aboard the Ishimura, including Chief Science Officer Dr. Terrance Kyne and Dr. Mercer to be a sign from God that Unitology was the truth.
In my opinion whenever religion is incorporated into a horror movie or game it adds another level of creepiness and Dead Space oozes with creepiness. Every aspect of the game from the ambient sound effects to the level design, the lighting effects, the necromorph design down to the overall story arc truly draws the player in and envelopes the player in the sense that not only could something horrible be waiting around the next corridor but there is something seriously fucked up going on in this ship!
Dead Space has some very unique environments aside from the typical blood and guts covered medical lab levels which have almost become cliched in the survival horror genre. Thankfully the game designers didn't forget that we're playing a game that takes place in outer space, and there is no oxygen or gravity out there! Dead Space does a terrific job of incorporating these facts into the game and reiterating the horror and survival aspects in this environment.
Another aspect of Deep Space that I was very pleased with was the menu system, unlike some games within the genre there is not menu screens that take you out of the experience while you check the map or change weapons all info is displayed via your rig (space suit) by holographic display. The weapons in Dead Space were a nice change from the typical handgun/shot gun. BFG1000 types that so frequently show up in survival horror games, in Dead Space most of the weapons relate to the fact you're on a mining vessel NOT a military vessel.
Dead Space also gives the player two other abilities to help Isaac survive the Necromorphs and the environment; Kinesis and Stasis. Kinesis gives Isaac the ability to move large objects, this is most commonly used to solve the puzzles scattered throughout the game. Stasis gives Isaac the ability slow down rapid moving objects such as damaged doors and the occasional necromorph.
Dead Space also incorporates a bit of RPG aspects as well, throughout the ship there are workbenches where Isaac can spend credits to upgrade the weapons, stasis and kinesis modules and his rig via nodes which can be bought in the store or found scattered around the ship.
In conclusion, Dead Space is a worthy title in the survival horror genre, it will totally immerse the player with absolutely terrifying environments, sound effects, creatures and a well developed story and dynamic cast.
I'm looking forward to a sequel!

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