It’s been over a decade since we last saw the Dead Space franchise, but now it’s back with a bang. EA and Visceral Games have released a remake of the 2008 classic that improves on the original in every way, with significantly upgraded graphics, gameplay, and more. In this review, let’s take a look at what makes the Dead Space remake so great.
Graphics & Visuals
The visual upgrades in the Dead Space remake are immediately noticeable from the start. The game has been completely redone in 4K, with improved character models and environments that make for an immersive experience. The improved textures also help create atmosphere; you can almost feel the grime and grit of the ship as you explore its deserted corridors. Even small details like lighting and particle effects have been given an upgrade, making for a much more believable world than ever before.
The original Dead Space was never lacking in terms of gameplay mechanics, but this remake takes things to another level entirely. Combat is now much more fluid and responsive, with new features like dismemberment allowing you to take out enemies in ways that weren’t possible before. There are also new weapons to play around with, such as an energy staff that lets you launch waves of energy at your enemies. On top of all this, there’s even an updated crafting system that allows you to upgrade your weapons and armor on the fly using resources scavenged from around the ship.
Story & Characters
One area where Dead Space always excelled was its narrative; it was one of the few survival-horror games of its day to actually tell a compelling story rather than just being about killing monsters. Thankfully, this hasn’t changed in the remake; Visceral has managed to keep all of the same story beats while modernizing them for a 2021 audience. Character dialogue has also been updated throughout, making conversations between characters feel more natural than ever before.
Dead Space is not a 1:1 remake. It delivers a near-identical experience to the 2008 original in many respects but with a slew of notable changes. For example, the original Dead Space had a divisive segment where players manned a turret to destroy incoming asteroids that had been significantly altered in the remake. The turret is gone completely, and in its place is a segment where Isaac has to venture outside the USG Ishimura to calibrate the ship’s targeting system. Necromorphs breathing down his neck and an ever-depleting oxygen supply ensure a great deal of tension in this reworked section of the game, meaning few will be sad to see the turret go.
Players will also discover that the Dead Space remake completely reworks Zero-G sections. The Dead Space remake takes its cues from Dead Space 2 and 3 when it comes to Zero-G, allowing Isaac to fly freely whenever he finds himself in a no-gravity situation. This will enable players to approach familiar challenges from a different angle and also helps to make certain areas much more fun than they were in the 2008 version.
There are other changes hardcore Dead Space fans will notice when making their way through the remake. Still, the most significant difference between the remake and the 2008 game is that Isaac now has a voice, necessitating new dialogue that results in expanded lore for the game. Players learn more about Isaac’s backstory, their relationship with his girlfriend, Dr Nicole Brennan, and more. This all adds up to make Isaac a more interesting protagonist than he was in the original game.
Instead of doing the risky thing and messing with the original Dead Space story, Motive Studio focused on expanding on what was already established. Besides Isaac’s new dialogue, this is accomplished through side quests that players can pursue while exploring the USG Ishimura. These give players more profound insight into some of Dead Space’s background characters, and while there are few to complete, the side quests are worth pursuing. The story revelations players get from the side quests are nothing groundbreaking, but they give more insight into precisely what happened on the ship and lead to new areas with valuable loot that players need to survive.
Many survival horror games ask players to conserve ammo and avoid conflict whenever possible, but Dead Space often forces players into a confrontation with its twisted necro morph monsters. Isaac has a healthy arsenal of weapons to help him fight these creatures, though nothing beats the game’s iconic Plasma Cutter. As it was in the original game, an upgraded Plasma Cutter is arguably the best tool at Isaac’s disposal. As long as players upgrade it enough, they can use it to decimate necro morphs with ease.
Early in the game, players gain access to stasis and kinesis abilities that greatly expand Isaac’s combat options beyond shooting everything. With stasis, Isaac can essentially freeze necromorphs in time, slowing their movements to a crawl and leaving them highly vulnerable. This is great for faster enemies that players struggle to line up shots on, and it’s also a handy tool for whenever Isaac finds himself in a rough spot and needs to reposition. Kinesis, meanwhile, is primarily used for puzzle solving. Still, it can also be weaponized, with Isaac able to throw explosive canisters at enemies and their sharpened, dismembered limbs.
Dead Space combat is about dismembering necromorphs, with the game throwing a healthy variety of necromorph creatures at Isaac to ensure things stay fresh from start to finish. There are some truly gruesome designs, though admittedly, familiarity with the monsters has made them lose some of their lustrs over the years. Anyone who’s played the original Dead Space may be disappointed to discover that the remake doesn’t succeed at being scary, especially since players can trivialize combat if they focus on upgrading the Plasma Cutter and their suit.
Hardcore Dead Space fans needing a more significant challenge can crank up the difficulty to Hard or Impossible mode. And this time around, it’s possible for Dead Space players to complete the game on a lower difficulty and then start their New Game+ save on a higher one. This functionality wasn’t present in the original Dead Space, so its inclusion in the Dead Space remake is undoubtedly appreciated and helps boost the game’s replay value.
Dead Space has always hit it out of the park regarding replayability; unsurprisingly, the Dead Space remake continues the streak. It offers multiple difficulty options, collectables, New Game+, side quests, hidden areas, and some unique challenges for those who decide to go after all of Dead Space’s achievements/trophies. The special challenge to complete the entire game using only the Plasma Cutter is back for the remake, with some new challenges added to keep players on their toes.
However, some fans may come away underwhelmed by how little the side quests really add to the experience. On Medium difficulty, we beat the main story and every side quest available in the first playthrough, all using only the Plasma Cutter, in a little over eight hours. However, there are some things in the Dead Space remake that players won’t get to see until they start their New Game+ run, including an alternate ending, so the game makes up for its short length by making sure players have plenty of reason to keep playing long after their first time through the Ishimura.
As players explore the USG Ishimura, they will find it hard not to be impressed by the game’s cutting-edge graphics. The Dead Space remake looks and performs great, with atmospheric lighting effects, horrific animations, and some genuinely jaw-dropping sites when Isaac finds himself exploring the vacuum of Space. It’s a hauntingly beautiful game that pushes the visual forwards in a big way without stepping on the distinct art style that the original game established.
The original Dead Space was not without its flaws, of course, and unfortunately, some of those flaws have wormed their way into the Dead Space remake. While Motive Studio chopped out the frustrating turret section, it left in the backtracking, elevator rides, and infamously tedious ending sequence that dragged down the pacing of the original back in the day. Doing away with some of these elements would have required a significant reworking of the game, so it’s not surprising that they’re still intact. Still, they are at least made more tolerable this time, thanks to Zero-G, which allows for faster navigation in some areas and the handy new map.
Motive Studio has reworked Dead Space’s map for the remake, abandoning the confusing 3D map for a simple 2D one that is infinitely easier to navigate. The new map goes a long way in helping Dead Space remake players keep track of objectives, locked chests, and doors, allowing them to explore the USG Ishimura and uncover all its secrets more easily.
The USG Ishimura is one giant, connected Space in the Dead Space remakes with no loading screens, whereas it was much more segmented in the original game. Locked chests requiring specific security clearance and side quests give players a good reason to revisit areas they’ve previously explored. While this doesn’t help the game’s issues with backtracking, it does at least ensure that players are rewarded for going out of their way to explore.
The Dead Space remake improves on the 2008 original in every category, offering quality-of-life improvements, new story content, side quests, and dramatically upgraded graphics. It’s Dead Space, but better, and many fans will be happy to see this classic survival horror experience get the modern makeover it deserves.
Dead Space launches on January 27 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. Game Rant was provided with a PS5 code for this review.
The dead space remake is easily one of 2021’s best games so far; it manages to capture all of what made the original so great while improving upon it in every way imaginable. Whether you’re new to survival horror or just looking for something fresh after years away from Isaac Clarke’s adventures, this is definitely one game you won’t want to miss out on!