Whether remaking a classic, a generation-old hit, or a more obscure title with a [very loud] fanbase, the task of bringing ‘what was’ to modern audiences remains daunting. This is why developers would much rather play it safe and release sequel upon sequel. Remaking video games also comes with its own unique flavoured can of worms, where developers need to remain as faithful to the source material as humanly possible, while also delivering a new and modern product removed from time. The Resident Evil franchise is a perfect example of remaking-done-right, while the likes of Final Fantasy VII Remake redefines the term completely. Thankfully, Motive Studio’s Dead Space Remake falls somewhere in between, acting as a genuine back-to-form modernisation of the 2008 horror classic.
In Dead Space Remake, players take on the role of Isaac, an engineer sent out to do a routine repair aboard the USG Ishimura, a massive mining rig out in deep space. Looking to make contact with his girlfriend, Nicole, Isaac soon learns of how the rig has pretty much been left abandoned by its staff and denizens. In their place, however, are grotesque alien-like creatures resembling the walking dead, but act like class-A predators both in and out of the darkness. As any Dead Space veteran would be able to tell, the story lines up perfectly with the original. However, small deviations and alterations allow for a breath of fresh air, helping many plot twists carry additional weight, while leaving the rest of the playable experience one to be remembered.
Anyone familiar with the original title will immediately notice how Isaac is no longer a silent protagonist. Many lines, spoken by some of Isaac’s retinue, have been given to him instead while brand-new lines have been recorded, lip-synched, and modelled; in order to make Isaac feel and sound much less of a yes-man, and more of a reluctant hero. His personality now falls in-line with how fans would know him from Dead Space 2 and 3, aiding in keeping players immersed in the world of the game.
Isaac is not the only character to have received a coat of new paint either. Everyone, from Nicole, through to the random NPC who bravely sacrificed himself in that one cutscene just to showcase how brutal the game can be, have all received brand-new, million-polygon models worthy of the game’s new multi-generational release.
In the same vein, the USG Ishimura also received a beautiful makeover. All rooms and parts of the rig are now interconnected and actually make some sense in the grander scheme of things. The camera is a now continuous single-shot pan, and moving between rooms and levels does not trigger scene breaks or loading screens. The rig has been wonderfully redesigned and grotesque new details have been littered throughout the station, making the already-amazing level and world design of the original just so much better in the Dead Space Remake. The building anxiety and the nail-biting fear of what may lurk around the next corner is, simply put, fantastic.
The original Dead Space truly innovated in how brutal an enemy could be pulled apart. Dead Space Remake builds on that innovation with a whole new approach called the “Peeling system”. While the general idea of shooting off as many important limbs as possible when facing a necromorph, the implementation now looks and feels… real? The alien creatures now have peeling muscle and fat with pieces of literal skin tearing off when Isaac stomps on their legs, or shoots at their arms. Flesh now burns realistically, and bone crushes sound scarily accurate. While all of the above may sound needlessly gory, it must also be noted how the Peeling System actually works as a stand-in for a health system. In short: the less flesh a creature has on the few bones, the higher the chances it might die if the next shot hits.
On the topic of the Peeling System lies the game’s biggest addition beyond its modernisation: weapons and combat. Most weapons now feature alternate firing modes and/or secondary functions, making them fall in line with the weapons featured in Dead Space 2, and the weapon modification system featured in Dead Space 3. In addition, players can also make use of further modifications giving weapons special functions. It is an extremely satisfying feeling to drop a proximity mine (via the Pulse Rifle) and have it go off strategically, while dousing entire corridors with flame. Isaac can also use psycho-kinetic abilities, like Kinesis, to further control combat.
Dead Space Remake takes place on a station in space. As such, it would only make sense for players to see some action in zero-gravity environments. In the remake, all of these segments have been redesigned to fully take advantage of a reworked control system. Unlike the original game, where players simply moved from platform to platform, Isaac now features mini thrusters and magnetic boots with entirely new levels and platforming capabilities that make sense from a structural design perspective. Perfectly complementing these great new changes is how everything is just so incredibly pretty, gross and colourful, yet nightmarishly scary.
Motive Studio have truthfully gone above and beyond to bring the USG Ishimura to [literal] life. Everywhere players look, they will find proof of life before the necromorph outbreak. Areas teeming with eggsacs or littered with malformed bodies hide deeper and darker origins, while many corridors are so clean and clinical that it seems like the amonia of the cleaning agent still taints the air. What is most surprising about all of this, however, is how little of an impact the game seems to have on current-generation hardware! The Xbox Series X handled the game with aplomb, with no discernable frame drops whatsoever throughout the entire review process, and literal seconds-worth of loading when the game needed to boot up — it loads faster than the original via backwards compatibility!
There is simply no denying how much of a classic Dead Space truly is, and Dead Space Remake does nothing to take away from that fact. What it does do is build upon the innovation and scarily accurate depictions of horror of the original, in ways lustrously complementing the source material. Nuanced new gameplay systems add on to already-wonderfully fleshed out ideas, and world design now falls in line with other entries in the franchise. Although Isaac may never have needed a voice to begin with, and the USG Ishimura may never have required this particular facelift, the world truly is so much better with both of these additions, and more. Dead Space Remake is an absolutely phenomenal example of how to remake a game correctly, making it a truly exceptional experienced and essential gaming for fans of the genre.
|Isaac returns a hero||Sometimes a necromorph will kill you and cause you to reload the game|
|Familiar yet new level design built from the ground-up||If you play too much, you might forget to eat and drink|
|Exceptionally well optimised||Sleeping is important.|
Title reviewed on Xbox Series X with code supplied by EA.
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Junior Editor at Vamers. From Superman to Ironman; Bill Rizer to Sam Fisher and everything in-between, Edward loves it all. He is a Bachelor of Arts student and English Major specialising in Language and Literature. He is an avid writer and casual social networker with a flare for all things tech related.