Dead Space Details – Updated and Expanded Horror Gameplay – PlayStation.Blog
Isaac Clarke drew on a deep source of courage and engineering skills to survive the horrors that awaited him aboard the Ishimura. Similarly, the talented team at Motive take a bold and technically impressive approach, remake Clarke’s fraught mission aboard a doomed spaceship in the sci-fi horror masterpiece Dead Space. In addition to visual and performance improvements, Motive includes slightly enhanced gameplay elements to take players deeper into the nightmare.
Even with careful exploration of the corridors of the Ishimura in the original release, my recent hands-on experience with the remake, including chapters 1 through 3, when Isaac tries to reactivate the tram system and repair the ship’s engines, was full of unexpected discoveries. Reconfigured gameplay shocks, difficult choices, new locations. Let’s dig.
New gameplay features
Isaac is fully voiced: This time, Isaac speaks loudly, such as calling out the names of his teammates when they are in trouble, or explaining his plans to repair the Ishimura centrifuge and fuel lines. Hearing him play an active role in the team’s mission makes the whole experience feel more like a movie and authentic.
Interconnected Immersion: There are no loading sequences when Isaac hops onto the Ishimura Tram to quickly travel between destinations such as the cargo and medical districts. All of this is part of Motive’s goal of creating an immersive, connected environment.
Freedom in weightlessness: In the original Dead Space, the weightless sections allowed Isaac to jump across platforms using special boots. In the remake, you have the freedom to fly 360 degrees, providing a spacewalk fantasy. Isaac also now has haste, which is handy for dodging Necromorphs charging into space.
Tense new moments: During chapter 2, Isaac must gain a higher level of clearance to the dead captain’s rig. The captain’s corpse is attacked by an infector, as a result of which he turns into a necromorph. In a 2008 episode, the players watch the change behind glass safely. In the remake, Isaac experiences this horrific transformation up close and personal, returning to the dramatic real-time Necromorph transformation at the start of Dead Space 2.
Circuit breakers: The new junction boxes require Isaac to redirect power between Ishimura’s various functions. In one scenario, I needed to redirect power to a gas station, and I could choose between turning off the lights or supplying oxygen to make that happen. Situations like this allow players to choose their poison when needed – I preferred to play in the dark so as not to risk suffocation.
Big moments seem big: Bright lighting and visual effects make dramatic moments even more impressive. Later in chapter 3, Isaac restarts Ishimura’s centrifuge. The combination of effects explodes as the gigantic machinery starts to work – gigantic machine parts rumble furiously, sparks fly as metal grinds, a huge swinging arm casts large shadows on orange auxiliary power supplies. This is a feast for the senses that immerses you in deeper experiences.
Stimulated Research: Locked doors and loot containers have been added to Ishimura that Isaac can access after leveling up. This encourages players to return to previously cleared areas to find resources and upgrade materials. One locked door includes a new side quest revealing a bit more about Isaac’s missing partner, Nicole.
Intensive Director: But don’t let your guard down just because you’re returning to known territory. Motive keeps players on their toes with the Intensity Director, which will escalate the tension with eerie sounds like creaking ventilation, surprise like bursting pipes, and unexpected Necromorph attacks.
Advanced weapon upgrade paths: What good is hunting for bonus resources if there is nowhere to invest them? New weapon upgrade items can be attached to the Plasma Cutter, Pulse Rifle, and other items to add additional upgrade paths to obtain nodes. Whether this includes new weapon mechanics or just additional improvements to damage, reload speed, ammo capacity, etc. will be determined.
Familiar but improved
Improved visuals: A rich layer of visual polish has been applied to the entire experience. Small details set the mood, including floating dust particles, an ominous mist hanging over the floor, dripping bloodstains, and dim lighting.
Small details enhance the story: Isaac builds his composite plasma torch on a workbench rather than just picking it up, a testament to his engineering expertise. Likewise, when Isaac assembles his Stathis Module, he first takes the severed limb it is attached to, as its previous owner was likely dismembered by a nearby malfunctioning door. These micro-narrative moments drew me in.
Tested gameplay: Combat backpacks are just as familiar, but with added fluidity. Switching the plasma cutter into vertical and horizontal aiming modes when shooting off the limbs of a Necromorph occurs smoothly and quickly.
Stasis strategy: Isaac’s handy time-lapse field still does a great job of crowd control. In one encounter, I used stasis to freeze an enemy near an explosive canister, then waited for another enemy to get close before shooting them and blowing both monsters to pieces.
Update your path: The bench remains a fun way to customize Isaac to suit your play style, using the precious knots hidden around Ishimura. This time around, I invested in suit upgrades that increased the area of effect of my Statis module to help coral more enemies at once. You can also improve your weapon’s damage, ammo, and reload speed.
Interface in the universe: Back in 2008, Dead Space’s designed user interface was ahead of its time, and it still feels futuristic today. Real-time display of Isaac’s projected menu maintains immersion and immediacy. Plus, menu text and icons look even sharper and cleaner in 4K.
Resources matter: I know 2008’s Dead Space well, and I’ll admit I felt a bit cocky during the playthrough. I first sold a few stacks of ammo for credits and freed up inventory space. I paid the price later in Chapter 2 when I ran out of ammo during a tense mortuary scene with the Infector rampantly generating fresh Necromorphs. Consistency forced me to carefully use stasis and hand-to-hand combat in order to survive. I was eventually able to use stasis to slow the spread of the Infector and destroy the threat before it got out of control. My reverence for ammo conservation was renewed throughout the rest of my playthrough.
Bitter details: Each shot of Isaac’s weapon rips flesh, muscle, and eventually breaks bones. More than just a rough visual, detailed damage gives feedback on how close players are to tearing off a limb and knocking down an obituary.
Your survival mission aboard the Ishimura will begin when Dead Space releases on January 27, 2023 on PS5.