Dead Space

The world of Horror Survival games was forever revolutionized by the release of Science-Fiction nightmare, Dead Space, in 2008. Some people have even called it the scariest game of its kind and perhaps of all time. Praised for it’s provocative plot, eerie use of audio, and bone-chilling atmosphere, Dead Space will have you biting your nails from start to finish, no matter how many times you’ve played it.

You play Isaac Clarke, an engineer sent with a small crew, including senior officer in Security, Zach Hammond, and technologist, Kendra Daniels, to locate the USG Ishimura, the largest “Planet-Cracker” of its class. Isaac and the crew are answering a distress signal received from the Ishimura, as well as a video log sent by Nicole Brennan, Isaac’s girlfriend. Upon seeing the Ishimura above the planet Aegis VII, your entire crew is surprised to see that all the lights on the Planet-Cracker are down, and nobody is replying to communications. While attempting to dock, a malfunction occurs in your small ship and you are forced to make a crash landing into the Ishimura’s docking bay. Luckily nobody is hurt, but your ship is in bad damage. As you enter the lobby, you find that it is a mess of scattered papers, with bags everywhere, but no one in sight. For a brief moment you separate from your crew to access the ship’s damage report in the next room over, however in that brief moment the ship’s quarantine is triggered and the doors are locked, lights shut off, and a window between you and your crew. In the following seconds, you hear a vent bust open and half of your crew slaughtered by a large, humanoid monster and it is then you when you must make your escape because one comes for you as well. From that point forward the game becomes a ride into blood and insanity as you try to repair the USG Ishimura, find out what the hell happened to the crew, and if all fails, save your own skin.

Throughout the ship you find several video and text logs from a variety of different people who worked on the ship which will give you insight into what went down on the Ishimura before you arrived. From these logs you almost get to know such characters as Dr. Kyne, Jacob Temple, and Captain Matthius without ever meeting them, and you get a real feel for what these people were going through.

The game offers some of the most fun playability seen in a game of this type. From the Stasis Module, that allows you to slow down malfunctioning doors or enemies, to the Kinesis Module, that allows you to pick up objects to fix things or shoot at enemies, to even the wide variety of weapons, you’ll never run out of ways to kill what stands in your way. There’s also points within the game where there’s either zero gravity, a vacuum threatening to asphyxiate you, or both at once, and you’ll be expected to adapt to these extremes, while still fighting for your life. At various spots within the ship, you’ll find the self-automated store in which you can buy weapons, ammo, and even suit upgrades which improve your armor and how much you can hold at one time.

The graphics seen in this game are absolutely breathtaking and nightmare-inducing. Some of the detail added to the littlest things are enough to send a chill down your spine. On one end of the spectrum you get the peaceful images of space and the exterior of the ship, and on the other end you get scenes that even the crew members of the USG Ishimura describe as being similar to “guts puked all over the walls”. Some of the rooms are absolutely terrifying and you’ll be scared to even walk in at times.

If the graphics weren’t scary enough, the audio is certainly what seals the deal. You’ll swear that you’re hearing things, and look around in circles trying to find what it is. And the game always has that perfect way of surprising you with music the instant your screen focuses on an enemy, and not when you haven’t realized the enemy is there yet. Occasionally you’ll hear beating on the walls, doors malfunctioning, and things crawling through the vents that you can’t do anything about. The audio is definitely one of the scarier parts of Dead Space.

Going along with the audio, the voice acting isn’t that bad either. Some of the cast certainly new how to deliver a bloodcurdling scream and acts as if something were actually about to kill them. The cast is what makes the game so believable, and ultimately scary, other than Isaac never speaking a single word (Gordan Freeman, much?).

Overall, Dead Space is definitely one of the better horror-survivals to come out in a while and probably the best I’ve ever played. The story is compelling, the enemies are frightening, and the atmosphere is utterly creepy. If you want nightmares, play Dead Space; it is definitely one of those games you have to play at least once. This game deserves a 9/10 for having some of the smoothest game play I have ever seen and never letting the player have a rest from the horror. However, I would not advice playing this game if you’re only experience with horror survivals is a Resident Evil game.

If you loved the story, you’ll be glad to know there’s an animated prequel movie, Dead Space: Downfall, that tells of the falling of the USG Ishimura just prior to Isaac’s arrival, and it does it’s part to live up to the story (it sort of reminds me of the Heavy Metal movies). There’s also Dead Space: Extraction, a prequel game exclusively for the Wii, that I’ve yet to play. And as many people were hoping, a Dead Space sequel is in the works and due to come out next year; I know I’m excited for that.