Before we tackle our Dead Space Remake review, I wasn’t entirely convinced we needed a re-do. Even though the sci-fi horror romp may be almost fifteen years old, its unique package containing genre-defining mechanics & interstellar fear still stands today. Motive has respectfully reworked the original concept into something that feels a bit like a 2023 adventure, while still keeping all that is grotesquely genius about the original.
Motive’s Dead Space Remake is definitely up there with the best horror games of all time, but you could attribute that feat to Visceral Games’ fantastic source material. This videogame is a tribute to classic films like Alien and Event Horizon. It combines body horror with survival agency and offers something that only a videogame can achieve.
While the remake will have big shoes to fill it is fully aware of the assignment. During my playthrough, I realised I’d forgotten what the 2008 release actually looks and feels like to play, and I can’t see myself returning to the original after stepping into Isaac’s new, shiny boots.
If you’re not familiar with the Dead Space franchise, the third-person survival horror places you in the boots of Isaac Clarke, an engineer tasked with carrying out repairs on an enormous mining vessel known as the USG Ishimura. If you’re partial to a spooky space movie, you’ll already know where this is going, as Clarke and his maintenance team are ambushed by a bunch of monstrous alien lifeforms shortly after boarding.
Rather than turning a machine on and off again and calling it a day, you’ll need to guide Isaac through the Ishimura and fend off countless flavours of ‘Necromorph’. Both the original and remake share this in common, but EA’s renewed space oddity has undergone substantial changes that alter the narrative and setup.
Isaac is now able to talk a lot, which is quite a contrast to the original, where he was mostly silent, and only found a voice in Dead Space 2. This matters more than you’d think, as it provides a bit more insight into the protagonist’s personality and moment-by-moment emotions. You can also have side-character conversations throughout the narrative, which provides context and helps to make it more interesting.
Speaking of side characters, I won’t delve too deep in order to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve played the original, you’ll definitely recognise some of the faces on board the Ishimura this time around. The new narrative framework is a fantastic way to expand on the original premise. Isaac, however, will be in a similar situation.
Dead Space has a lot of flavourful fidelity, so updated visuals are essential for remakes. Do you ever feel that moment when an old game looks better in your mind? Well, Motive’s take almost looks like a warm nostalgic memory – not that “warm” is perhaps the right word to describe an undead-infested spaceship.
I can’t stop thinking about how much life Motive has injected into the game’s charcuterie board of effects. Finding time to enjoy the view in a horror game is a chore, but you’d be foolish not to spend a few moments basking under a random light or dwelling within a murky shadow, as it’ll hammer home the love poured into every detail by Motive.
The result is unmistakably Dead Space. The Ishimura will remain a favorite for many years. It still has a homely feel, just like an industrial garbage can. The enhanced visuals allow you to see the mine ship’s cold, unforgiving hallways with greater detail, which is sure to make your eyes squint.
Accompanying the remake’s sour eye candy are the frankly frightening audio enhancements that’ll mess with your noggin no matter how high-end your audio setup is. Fear will be instilled in the most ardent horror fans by the orchestra of screams, bloodcurdling roars, and ear-shattering clashes. Once you’ve endured a couple of hours of sensory torment, you’ll be able to detect sneaky Necromorphs coming from all angles, but I can’t decide if hearing said sounds hampered my third-person shooter skills.
Regardless, the original Dead Space’s sound design slapped, and it set a ridiculously lofty bar for future horror games to achieve. Using audio in this way is infinitely more immersive than the highest-quality visuals, as it’s arguably easier to fool your ears over your eyes. Nevertheless, Motive manages to focus on both with its remake, and you’ll struggle to find a spookier combo within your Steam library.
While much of the weaponry is the same, there are some key differences. Nodes are back, and they are vital for upgrading, no matter what you choose, the punchy Pulse Rifle and the precise Plasma Cutter. But schematics are also available now to give you additional upgrade and ability options.
Weapons have now been given alternate modes, such as Line Gun laser traps to stun the ground and Contact Beam blasts to add flexibility to undead fights. You don’t You can find it here It is possible to use crowd control tactics to trap enemies in order to survive each encounter. However, this will help you to not waste too much time and resources in unfavorable situations.
You’ll find collectables like schematics, nodes, and new suits scattered throughout the Ishimura, but they’re not the only reason to stray off the beaten path. For starters, some rooms and boxes feature ‘security clearance’ locks that can only be accessed after a certain point in the game, so you’ll need to revisit earlier areas if you’re craving upgrades. Side quests are now available, which provide additional lore as well as alternative conversations between characters.
It’s not easy to fix a remake. But Motive certainly has the former. The star of the show is the ‘peeling’ system, as it allows players to tear through layers of skin, muscle, and bone when blasting Necromorphs to bits.
It is not as easy as it sounds. However, peeling enemies like a Sasuma serves a practical purpose. A Necromorph can only be killed by severing limbs. The skin peeling system is a visceral aid that acts almost as a barbaric health-bar. Simply put, if you can see limb tendons, you’re halfway there. Do you see bone? You can seal the deal with another shot.
Whether or not you’ll actually pay attention to enemy wounds during frantic showdowns is another matter entirely, but the useful mechanic takes Dead Space’s body horror to the next level. As sick as it sounds, the best way to get a good look at the feature is by shooting human corpses in the face, so if you’ve got an iron stomach, you might want to give that a try.
The remake isn’t all bad. Zero gravity has been reworked, and you can now glide around with thrusters. This is a huge improvement on the 2008 version’s pseudo-platforming mechanic, which made exploration seem clunky. Although the change makes boss battles such as the Leviathan (the original cosmic sphincter) more manageable, it still took me millions of attempts to send the butthole in the abyss.
Dead Space Remake can be a terrible game. However, there are a few things that make it a little less enjoyable. Although the above might change, especially if prerelease patches are available, each one marred the otherwise flawless end.
If you’ve already familiarised yourself with Dead Space system requirements, you’ll know that recommended PC specs are somewhat hefty. Sadly, exceeding GPU requirements will still potentially result in frame spikes during cutscenes and some specific areas, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why. Although performance drops can be mitigated by turning on Nvidia DLSS (which is more of a hardware problem than an actual issue), it feels more like a hardware problem.
As infinitely amusing as it is, janky ragdoll physicals are also a distraction, as there’s nothing sillier than dancing Nercromoph limbs. Immersion is not the only thing that happens to abominations after dismemberment.
Perhaps more important, I ran into a few game-breaking issues during my play-through. Isaac became stuck at an automated prompt and was unable move. Even dying didn’t fix it, forcing a reload from a previous save. While there were only a handful of glitches during the review period, they were enough of a nuisance to mention, and the sort of jank you’d expect from the 2008 original, not a brand-new rework.~
If The Callisto Protocol failed to quench your cosmic horror thirst, I’m confident that Dead Space will once again sate your needs. It’s ever so slightly rough around the edges, and Isaac Clarke now looks like Adam Sandler for some reason, but it’s a respectful rework that’ll hopefully mark the franchise’s triumphant return. Thanks to Motive, I’m now more open to the idea of Xbox 360-era remakes, and I can’t wait to see what’s on the cards for Dead Space 2.
Dead Space Remake review
Motive’s Dead Space Remake is a gloriously grotesque glow-up that embraces the original horror game’s robust formula, and only a slight amount of jank keeps it from achieving perfection.
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