Dead Space is getting a remake, and let's be real: could it look any better? This week we were offered a glimpse at the game's early-development build, got walked through how the game looks, the changes that are being made, and given a few surprises along the way. The outcome? Dead Space Remake looks like everything we could have ever wanted from a remake of this classic game, or hell, any game at all. For any regular readers of this column, don't worry: I'm still not going to preorder the game. All I am saying is that there are lessons to be learned from the genius of this week's breakdown.
Let's start-off with the elephant in the room, one of the two biggest pieces of news to come out of this demo: Dead Space Remake will not feature microtransactions. Let me repeat, Dead Space Remake will not feature microtransactions. This is exciting because Dead Space 3 famously did feature microtransactions, and it was a complete disaster.
Why? Well, the microtransactions in Dead Space 3 were the beginning of an era of game development wherein major companies like EA and Ubisoft put business and profit margins in front of in-game pacing and balance. It was during a time when developers deliberately reduced the amount of collectible resources within a game so that you were incentivized to spend more money in a game... that you had already paid for. Yeah, it was pretty bad.
Dead Space 3 was just another casualty of this era, and thus the decision that has been made the developers of the Dead Space Remake, to not include microtransactions, has confirmed to us that Electronic Arts have listened. These issues are largely a thing of the past in modern game design, with developers and publishers opting for more of a Fortnite-style cosmetic item systems. Alternatively, developers are replacing loot boxes and Season Passes with Call of Duty-style Battle Passes. It's the same obnoxious money-hoarding (and I still don't understand how anyone can fall for it), but at least it isn't so blatantly anti-consumer.
Before we head on to my second point, check out the Dead Space Remake!
Look, the second piece of news is not so substantial, but it is pretty bloody cool: Isaac Clarke will have full voice-acting in Dead Space Remake. Oh, but that's not it... the original Isaac Clarke voice actor, Gunner Wright, will be returning to the role. I'll keep this short, but this is one fantastic way to bring more immersion and storytelling into the experience. Isaac Clarke was a silent protagonist in the original Dead Space, so giving him a voice? A fantastic idea!
Now it's time for the deep-dive, now it's time for the real stuff: the atmosphere. I never bought the idea that Dead Space was a true "horror" experience. The game had horror elements, it had an intense and eerie atmosphere, and it had a few jump scares. It was certainly a frightening setting, but it was nowhere near a horror game in the classical sense. That was okay, because the niche that Dead Space fit into was something that had never been seen before.
Dead Space was not as cut-and-dry as your usual horror game, but what it did do, it did perfectly. The game had this eerie sense of space, this claustrophobic spaceship, juxtaposed with these wide zero-gravity rooms, and these often fast-paced enemy encounters. Dead Space had this huge contrast in the speed of encounters, and the speed of moment to moment gameplay. Isaac Clarke was not a soldier – at least in the first game – he was a mechanic, and the game's feel reflected that reality.
The experience felt heavy. Isaac was heavy, and his weaponry was primitive. The enemy was monstrous, and the gore reflected that monstrosity, but in the end – for the most part – Isaac Clarke was unprepared, and certainly not ready for the tasks put upon him. He succeeded out of desperation, out of luck, and out of determination. As I said, he was heavy, he was lumbering, but he got the bloody job done.
The corridors were narrow. Steam filled the air, creating a creepy mist that emulated and intensified the discomfort of the environment. The USG Ishimora was exposed, and it was over-run by horrors. The suffering that had occurred within the ship's thin walls was palpable, thick, and intense. Messages scrawled in blood seemed to plaster every corridor.
This week's presentation revealed to me that the folks who are developing the Dead Space Remake know that these were the things that made the original so great. They get the spirit behind Visceral Games' masterpiece, and why Dead Space took the world by storm when it launched way-back-when. Their intense discussion about how they are recreating that atmosphere, how they are improving the Necromorphs, and how they are intensifying and building upon the experience, was phenomenal.
If everything works out, then the Dead Space Remake will be everything that a remake should be.
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