In the world of the video game industry, there hasn’t been a game that has had a more definitive impact with the genre of survival horror like the franchises of Resident Evil and Silent Hill in the most recent of years. With the introduction of this Sci-fi title, it is a fundamental trait that the world has seen that all the titles mentioned have one thing in common.
The one thing that most humans in this world fear…the darkness.
So, as a gamer and as a curious individual reading this, would you venture into the world of Horror?
Imagine the world’s resources on earth have been depleted. The human race, has no idea how to survive until they develop technology and spaceships to go where no man has gone before, to other galaxies. With huge ships that are dubbed “Planet Crackers”. Planet crackers destroy whole planets to ore the resources that they hold.
One of the first class Planet Crackers and most prestigiously respected ships is the “USG Ishimura”
The Ishimura was orbiting a planet by the name of AEGIS VII, until it sent a distress signal for help.
Answering the call is the “USG Kellion”. A smaller ship that is classified as an engineering/repair ship. Within this ship houses several soldiers, a technologist by the name of Kendra Daniels, a senior security officer Zach Hammond and engineer Isaac Clarke. The Kellion arrives to the Ishimura and find that the lights are not operational but the ship is still orbiting the planet.
The Kellion makes its way to the Ishimura…
Dead Space utilizes primarily from the ‘over the shoulder’ third person shooter perspective, similar to the works like Resident Evil 4. In Dead Space, you will be controlling Isaac Clarke, the main character and protagonist. He will be wielding all sorts of weapons that are actually supposed to be tools that mark the day and age of the story, the year 2058. They are actually mining tools, but to players rejoice, they are weapons that prove to be very useful in the foes you will face.
The Necromorphs are your enemy. The new gameplay that is added?
As horrifying a thought that is, the tools and weapons you utilize will sever the limbs and ligaments from your enemies. This in turn will slow them down and be easier to kill then just going straight for a head shot, because even with the head gone, the body will still attack.
Now I know I have made a few comparisons to Resident Evil 4, it cannot be helped. In RE4 there was a few fundamental aspects of gaming that had made it retain the Resident Evil feel. No ‘run and gun’ (meaning that you couldn’t shoot while running or backing away from an opponent) and no quick turn (spinning 180 degrees to evade or turn quickly against enemies). Dead Space make the player keep watching his back, watching everything around him and importantly, listening to his surroundings. The Necromorphs make sounds if they are lingering, but as some reviewers have compared them to Aliens from the movie franchise, they can come at you at the worst of times, unexpectedly and loud.
Survival horror games are based on the premise of lack of ammunition for weapons and using strategies to overcome the situation. Whether you have to run, or fight or even both hit and run, Dead Space fills this criteria down to the letter…if not more. Including a store where you can purchase more items such as health packs, ammunition and weapons, you can also store your items in a safe for later use. Stores also offer suits that you can purchase that increase your item inventory and increases armor. But before any of these can be purchased by credits that you find and acquire, you must find the ‘schematic’ of the desired weapon or item. In turn forcing you to look through every pathway, nook and cranny for items or for something unexpected. You’ll also be able to upgrade your weapons as well as your suit at specific stations that are called “benches”. You spend “power nodes” that can power up your suit and weapons as well as 2 more interesting game features. Features that Isaac can use called “Stasis” and “Kinesis”. Stasis is the act of slowing down an moving object or even your enemies. It’s a handy tool that you will discover and use in the best situations that you will encounter. As for the act of kinesis, think of jedi mind tricks without the mind tricks. Kinesis is the feature of moving objects without having to lift them. You will be able to see Clarke hold out his hand as an force can grab hold of an object and move it backwards or forwards or sideways if permitted. It can also be used to get far away objects and bring them to you.
Another aspect of survival horror games is the idea of solving puzzles or doing missions. In this case, there is a various amount of both that are applied. You will be charged to take on missions that have to be done in order to progress forward throughout your mission and the overall story. Puzzles aren’t all that hard to figure out, and missions aren’t that complex, the only thing that really is the scare factor and essentially the pace in which you tackle the story.
One thing that you will notice in some screenshots and gameplay, if you haven’t already seen it, is that you will be playing the game without a Heads Up Display (HUD). The weapons you use will have an ammo counter and your health is seen on the very back of your characters spine.
What really shines about Dead Space and that it has boldly claimed that it was taking survival horror to the next level is, its presentation. The whole aspect of the game has taken influences from movies such as “Event Horizon” and “Aliens”. It’s a really great introduction into the genre that needed a kickstart due to the lack of the well known franchises taking a turn for more action.
Electronic Arts Redwood studios can back up their bold claim. Dead Space’s atmosphere, the look and feel of the ship, the death, the claustrophobia and most importantly, the darkness.
EA also have presented the graphics quite well. The colour does fit the time period as well as the ship, though players may think it is too bland, but the details lie with the character models. The Necromorphs especially as they are, to be honest, grotesque transformations that I have ever witnessed in a video game. But what mainly comes with graphics? The sound.
It’s a really interesting approach that the sound and the music of the game were of sounds that were not of any techno sounds or mixed with any other genres, but were the sounds of classical music. Created by Rod Abernethy (well known for his works such as Alpha Protocol, Darksiders and Warhark) but conducted by Jason Graves (who also has credits in the gaming world for Wheelman, Section 8 and Star Wars Trilogy: Apprentice of the Force). Both men created the soundtrack for Dead Space, with its classical feel and at times heightened tones of suspense, but also softer tones of giving a false sense of security.
It’s a new entry into the world of the 3rd generation console war. For the PS3, XBOX 360 and PC, this game has put in its fair share of tall tales of hyping the game as the break in for survivor horror and reviving the genre…and they were right.
Gamers looking for a scare, a return to the genre shall not look further. For this is the game that has and will revive the genre in the near future.
I guarantee it.
The worded verdict…Don’t even think second thoughts. This game has to be experienced to be believed. Oh, and pro tip.
Play the game in a dark room and crank up the sound.