Dead Space Remake Review
It’s been almost 15 years since the original Dead Space was released in 2008. The game instantly became a cult classic, earning critical acclaim, and is beloved by many players up to this day. When the remake was announced last year, many met the news with enthusiasm but were also fearful of how it could ruin the legacy of the original given how tough it is to pull off a proper remake.
Fast forward to today as the game is finally launched worldwide, fully rebuilt from the ground up using the Frostbite engine. The team at Motive had a very tall task ahead of them, with the challenge of staying true to the key pillars that made the original such a classic while adding touches to the game for modern audiences.
To put any fears to rest, the Dead Space remake is utterly terrifying and achieves everything it sets out to be and much more.
I reviewed the game on a PC with the following specs – Ryzen 5 5600x, 16 GB DDR4 3600 RAM, NVIDIA RTX 3050, 1TB NVMe SSD, 27″ 1440p Monitor. All impressions will be based on these specs.
Welcome Back, Isaac
I wanted to jump back into the USG Ishimura with fresh eyes, so I held off on replaying the original game over the months leading up to this launch. Apart from major story beats, I had mostly forgotten how the game played out, so I felt that coming into the Dead Space Remake as a relatively new player would make me appreciate the game even more.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be a new or returning player to appreciate the view. The Dead Space Remake looks visually jaw-dropping, and the Necromorph-ridden Ishimura evokes a persistent feeling of dread and tension that immerses the player ever so deeply as they step back into the boots of Isaac Clarke.
The USG Ishimura proves to be a harrowing setting, much more so this time around. Lights flicker on and off as copious amounts of blood splatter can be seen through its narrow corridors. Moving through the halls is frightening even when no enemies are in sight, thanks to the many crisp visual effects such as sparks from exposed circuits and steam from its vents.
Lighting plays a huge part in making the Ishimura such a horrific place to explore. At times, corners and long hallways will be lit just enough to convey uneasiness, while there are also moments when rooms are extremely dark, offering just slivers of light that force you to walk around with your Plasma Cutter at the ready just so that you can utilize its built-in flashlight.
One other touch that the Dead Space Remake gets right is in its audio design. There are a lot of small details that add up—whispers, Isaac’s breathing, the pitter-patter along the vents—that constantly make you feel like you are never alone. Playing with headphones instantly elevated the experience, allowing players to hear even the softest of sounds, making the journey unforgettable.
New to the Dead Space Remake is its much-talked-about “peeling system,” which introduces layers of flesh and bones that peel off, indicating damage to the Necromorphs and allowing you to make strategic dismemberment decisions crucial to your survival. While it may actually be tough to notice when you’re running around afraid and confused, it adds that extra touch of visceral gore that makes the game such a graphic affair.
Put together, all of these elements really elevate the gameplay experience, and the Dead Space Remake makes a much more lasting impression because of it. At any given point in time, there are many layers of elements working together in unison that make the game feel much more alive, bringing back all the nostalgia of over ten years ago and replaying them in high definition.
Speaking of gameplay experience, PC players with adequate hardware will surely want to crank things up to the maximum because the Dead Space Remake not only looks superb but also plays flawlessly as well. With our setup, we were able to achieve an average of 70-80fps thanks to DLSS, even at 1440p. There is an option to switch on dynamic resolution, so those in favor of visuals or performance will surely have options they can play around with.
We can’t speak about console performance because we haven’t tested there, but our time spent with the PC version of the game was smooth from start to finish. We’ll be sure to update this once we’ve played on the PS5 or Xbox Series!
In With The New
The size of the USG Ishimura is no joke, and the Dead Space Remake reinforces this even further by making the game one whole unbroken experience, with no loading screens nor camera cuts in between. The whole breadth of the ship feels bigger than ever, filled with obstacles and puzzles that stand in the way of Isaac’s survival.
Certain doors and chests will be locked behind a security clearance level that gets upgraded as you play through the game, giving you the opportunity to backtrack and secure valuable loot that will help you along the way. Backtracking is not too tedious to do, and the improved hardware of the current-gen consoles ensures that loading screens never get in the way of retracing your steps.
One interesting change in the Dead Space Remake is how it takes the anti-gravity elements from the previous games and merges all of their good points. Isaac now has the ability to move freely in zero-gravity areas, further reinforcing the sheer breadth and scope of the Ishimura as something that holds valuable resources or terrors that are waiting to be uncovered.
Through it all, Isaac is no longer the silent protagonist he once was. Gunner Wright, the voice actor from Dead Space 2 and 3, returns to reprise his role in the remake and adds another layer of relatability to this stranded engineer in search of his girlfriend in the midst of a slaughtered crew and his own crumbling sanity.
In line with another recent release that has received flak for going overboard with banter, Isaac is more reserved and mostly just speaks during conversations with the remainder of his crew. While this doesn’t really elevate the experience to new heights, it’s a welcome addition to a remake that’s gone to great lengths to make the game better.
Isaac is not quite the helpless protagonist, even back in the original game, but the Dead Space Remake provides him with some smart changes that give him more tools to wage war against the Necromorph threats. Nodes are back, and while these still fulfill the basic currency used to upgrade your suit and weapons, all nodes placed will provide an upgrade unlike before where there were some blank spots where your nodes did absolutely nothing.
In turn, the full weapon upgrade grid is not visible at first, and you’ll need to pick up upgrades scattered throughout the Ishimura that will open up the weapon grid even further. This change reinforces both the backtracking and security clearance sections of the remake, promoting exploration and making the process that much more rewarding.
A number of weapons in the Dead Space Remake also receive tweaked alt-fire modes, making Isaac a walking anti-Necromorph machine. Notable changes come with the Line Gun and Contact Beam, but a personal favorite is the pulse rifle, with its alt-fire allowing me to plant a proximity mine that decimates groups of enemies with ease.
Exploring the Ishimura is a choice, and the Dead Space Remake has implemented a smart (and scary) way to give the burden of choice back to the players. While scouring the halls, you’ll be met with circuit breakers that have different options – turn on/off the lights, activate the elevator, etc. More often than not, you can only choose one or the other, adding a layer of uneasiness and challenge that adds variety to otherwise standard tasks.
What this does is put the player in a position of discomfort, forcing them to enter scenarios that wouldn’t normally happen. Getting to and flipping a switch while killing enemies on the way back is child’s play, but making the return trip in pitch-black darkness with only your flashlight to rely on is nerve-wracking
The Dead Space Remake isn’t as transformative in scope as other similar remakes (Resident Evil 2 comes to mind) but the way Motive Studio has handled it will surely please both newcomers and fans of the game as the trip back to the USG Ishimura is definitely one worth taking.
What we liked:
- Masterful audio design
- Superb use of light and other visual elements to increase tension
- Intuitive controls and buttery smooth performance
- Well-thought-out gameplay changes
What we didn’t like:
- The game eventually ends
Verdict: Buy it!
The Dead Space Remake is a stellar effort from Motive Studio that respects the source material but also makes just enough meaningful changes to gameplay to suit modern audiences and provide a fresh experience. It wasn’t an easy task, considering how the original is held in high regard, but the results cannot be denied, and they have indeed lived up to lofty expectations.
One highlight of the game is its superb audio design, which keeps players on their toes, elevating encounters and maintaining tension levels high all throughout. Paired with chilling visuals and lighting that evoke an atmosphere of dread, the USG Ishimura is even more terrifying than ever before.
The Dead Space Remake is a must-play for survival horror fans, starting the year off strong and proving that 2023 could indeed be a stellar year for video games.
*Dead Space Remake was reviewed on a PC with a review code provided by the publisher.