In case you were wondering: Yes, I do live under a rock—or at least I did some four years ago when Dead Space 2 released and I totally missed it. Though I enjoyed the first game, unusual given how I’m often too terrified to play survival horror games, I missed out on the sequel for whatever reason.
Well here I am almost half-a-decade later exploring what happened to Isaac Clarke after what appeared to be his dead girlfriend nearly killed him during his escape. I have to say, I’m quite happy I got the opportunity to finally back into this series.
As I said earlier, I tend to avoid survival horror games as they often result in literal nightmares in which I continuously try to find a pause button somewhere, or attempt to disconnect some kind of computer console—only for the damn thing to stay on.
None-the-less, the world of Dead Space is simply too dark and morbidly fascinating for me to ignore (just not four years ago). So I proceeded to scare the shit out of myself for roughly eight to twelve hours, and goddamn was it exhilarating. Along the way I was able to fully demonstrate the more colorful aspects of my vocabulary to anyone who might have been within earshot.
Though I had gotten in my head that “sure I can play this on survivalist mode,” I eventually downgraded to casual close to the game’s conclusion; mostly as a way to assert my superiority over the necromorphs who were nothing more than AI that I could shutdown at any moment (or at least while I was awake).
I think what makes Dead Space such a great series, at least as far as the first two are concerned, is the fact that it contains some quality horror. Unlike a game like Doom 3, where I found myself predicting where the demons would appear, Dead Space always leaves me guessing in an uncomfortable and terrifying way. I literally asked the developers, as if they were right next to me, whether it was necessary to put baby necromorphs in the damn game.
I greatly appreciated the allusions to films like Alien and even Event Horizon. That sense of isolation, combined with an understanding that there’s some unstoppable force of evil that is surrounding everywhere I go. Also, the sense that almost everyone might be lying to me was dishonesty at its most blissful. As if I couldn’t have felt more isolated! It really was a stellar accomplishment that fused writing with game design.
Some of the difficult aspects, to be honest, did suck some of the fun out of the experience. There were points that were more frustrating than they were scary. Most of these were far and few in between.
The story came off as more puzzling and mysterious to me; I haven’t yet made up my mind about it, though I still feel like I would’ve preferred some more information. Is the Marker purely human creation? Or does it have an extraterrestrial source. Also, if the Unitologists wanted the Marker to turn everyone into necromorphs, and the military was opposed to the Unitologists, then why did they want to stop Clarke from destroying it?
Aside from the story feeling like a party I wasn’t really invited to, it was a great experience. If for whatever reason you haven’t had the chance to play this one, I highly recommend it…and make sure you play it the right way: At night and with the lights off. Anything else is technically cheating at the game!