by PEARL LEE
In 2008, Electronic Arts set out to create one of the best survival horror game series of all time called “Dead Space,” which was influenced by the 2005 game “Resident Evil 4.” From the impressive design to the bone-chilling monsters you fight in the game called “necromorphs,” the game is highly regarded among critics and fans alike.
Just earlier this year, the game was a nominee for two awards: Xbox Game of the Year and Ultimate Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards. But does this remake hold up, or is it just a nostalgia trip of the original?
I’m going to be honest: I’ve never played a survival horror game before. It’s never been an appealing genre for me, which is surprising because I enjoy almost all genres. So, I’m going into this game review completely blind, apart from the knowledge I already know about this game.
According to IGN, it seems that the 2023 remake follows the same storyline. The story is incredibly compelling because it throws the player in the middle of the action where everything hits the fan all at once, so they get first-hand experience that the necromorphs are not to be messed with. Overall, the game has a complementary blend of action and storytelling, and the player never gets overwhelmed with what needs to be done.
My first impression of this game after beating the first mission was on-the-edge-of-your-seat terror. In general, many game visuals have become so realistic it’s like watching a movie, and Electronic Arts went above and beyond to improve the graphics. After watching a comparison video between the new and old “Dead Space,” it was like night and day with how realistic the graphics looked.
The most iconic and recognizable look from the new “Dead Space” is protagonist Isaac Clarke’s engineering suit that, in my opinion, received the biggest glow-up. In the 2023 version of the game, Clarke’s jacket resembles a motorcycle jacket with realistic-looking leather with all the little details found on the actual machinery all over the suit.
Compared to the old suit from the original game—which had the appearance of 2001 “RuneScape” with its very awkward-looking blocky texture and mismatched color palette—the overall appearance of the player’s main character is greatly detailed and is a massive improvement.
The main thing that jumps out is the spinal rig unit on Clarke’s suit that indicates the player’s health. The rig shows individual health bars through what looks like a semi-transparent tube, which is an element that was not included in the original game.
Furthermore, I want to praise the bronze plating on the suit itself, which has a very clear corroded look to it and the suit reveals noticeable wear and tear. With an improvement in the graphics, the suit is also able to interact dynamically with the environment depending on where the player is.
Aside from the graphics, the biggest thing that either makes or breaks a horror game is the sound design. This is what makes the player’s hair stand up, and, if done well, it can make the player break out into a sweat with the terror of knowing that their possible demise is just around the corner.
One of the biggest improvements to come from the remake is that Issac Clarke finally has a voice. Unlike the silent protagonist from 2008 who just followed orders that were barked at them from non-player characters, we finally get to hear Clarke’s deepest thoughts about the situations unfolding all around him.
Because of this, it’s like the players controlling Clarke feel a human connection when they see him lose his friends at the hands of the necromorphs. Likewise, players may also feel the biggest sense of relief when Clarke comes out triumphant after every encounter. Consequently, players can now experience Clarke’s realistic human emotions instead of suffering in silence at the game’s most traumatic moments.
The gameplay is also very smooth because players play in the third person and can see everything around them. Furthermore, as the story progresses, characters help players identify the best way to tackle an issue, such as prioritizing running away and hiding rather than dealing with the enemy head-on.
The necromorphs, which are half-human and half-alien meat grinders that hit like a semi-truck, have nothing to stand in their way and only one thing on their mind: tearing Issac Clarke to shreds. The new and improved weapon inventory that has the firepower to make even Russia blush creates a sense of relief every time the player takes the walking meat grinders down.
Overall, the 2023 “Dead Space” is a love letter to the original. Electronic Arts hit every mark on the checklist to perfectly recreate the experience players had in 2008 with a more modern look while also fixing issues from the old game. Through these changes, they perfectly crafted a brand new experience of a beloved game for both new and old players. Not only did they improve the diverse weaponry already present, but, with improvements to both gameplay and graphics, they were also able to elevate the game’s desired potential to a new level.
I was unsure about survival horror games before “Dead Space” because they seemed like cookie-cutter versions of each other. However, Electronic Arts has done a great job at completely revamping and upgrading one of the titans of survival horror games to its fullest potential, cranking the terror all the way to the max and upping the risks that the player will have to face.
All in all, I would have to give the 2023 version of “Dead Space” a rating of 9.5/10.
The 2023 remake version of the game came out on Jan. 27 and is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X&S and Microsoft Windows.