Robert Hayman reviews Visceral Games ‘Dead Space’
Released in 2008, Visceral Games’ ‘Dead Space’ puts you in control of Isaac Clarke, a simple engineer, as he fights for survival aboard a desolate, mysterious spaceship. This is really nothing new in 2017, with games like ‘Alien Isolation’ and ‘Prey’ that also feature similar plot openers, but Dead Space surprisingly manages to be just as if not more gripping and terrifying than subsequent titles. The game achieves this with its suspenseful score, tight corridors and effective lighting, which all together make for a tense and claustrophobic experience.
You are not entirely alone either but are hunted by the necromorphs, one of this game’s high points. Made from the dead corpses scattered throughout the ship, these deformed monstrosities stop at nothing to reach you to create more of them; think zombies but far more efficient and horrifying. Despite the lack of variety, there are only about eight different types of enemy in total, each one can have several different ways of approaching you, depending on how you approach them. They also challenge typical video game tactics; shooting them in the head or chest normally only makes things worse for you. This is where the weapons come into play; the game’s other high point. You can only carry a maximum of four weapons at a time, but each one has an alternative form of fire. Some, like the endlessly useful Plasma Cutter, offer an alternative similar to the main method of fire, while others, like the Pulse Rifle, have an unexpected form of fire that allows for use in a situation where you would not think to use it. All the weapons are varied enough for all forms of playstyle, and they all take advantage of the game’s core concept: dismemberment. Every character in the game, from the enemies to the corpses to even Isaac himself when he dies, can be dismembered, slowing the enemies’ advances and killing them after enough dismemberment.
Despite all this, however, the game does have some minor issues. The camera always feels too close to Isaac, and while this may add to the claustrophobia, it makes it hard to aim and explore. Additionally, there are several sections where the game forces you to use the ship’s cannons – the controls here are slippery and it is easy to die over and over again. Overall though, Dead Space is an amazing classic and one that I highly recommend.