As I mentioned in my Nightmare on Elm Street Remake Review, the horror genera in film is one that has grown stale in recent decades, although there are a few good ones if you look in the right place. But I've found that the future of horror is not in films, but in video games, particularly in the survival horror genera. Unfortunately, this is also a genera that has become stale and is now a dying breed of video games. The one game series, however, that may be able to revive it is the Dead Space series. With the release date of Dead Space 2 rapidly approaching, I decided this would be a good time to do a short look at the first game. Unfortunately, I haven’t played this game in a while so this review won't be as detailed as most. It's my Review of Dead Space.
The game takes place in the distant future where Earth's resources have been depleted. In order to keep humanity alive, huge ships, known as planet crackers go out into space to strip mine other planets on a huge scale, destroying them in the process. When the planet cracker U.S.H. Ishimura goes dark, a small team of military personal, technologists, and an engineer is sent to investigate. You play as the engineer, Isaac Clarke who's looking for his girlfriend aboard the ship but instead finds grotesque, monstrous creatures known as necromorphs and you are forced to fight your way through hordes of these creatures in order to survive.
The Game Play
The game play is like that of most survival horror games; over the shoulder, third person with limited health and ammo that are both easy to lose. Rather than shooting the crap out of things to kill them, however, killing enemies relies on how well you can dismember their limbs. Never before or after have I played a game where you could blow the head off an enemy and still have it keep coming after you. The main weapons you use, however, are mostly space age tools, and are often more useful then guns. Much of the game is dimly lit which gives it a creepy and disturbing environment where you have no idea when something is going to pop out and try to kill you. Unfortunately the necromophs tend to pop out in the exactly same kind of places which causes the game to get a little repetitive.
The characters are what you would expect in this kind of game. Isaac is a silent, mostly faceless protagonist so he doesn’t have much to offer. One interesting thing to note about the character, however, is that he frequently sees images of his girlfriend on monitors of computers and sees here running around the ship and one can't help but wonder if he actually is seeing her, or if he is just going insane. Zach Hammond is your typical leader of the survival horror situation who tries to get a grip on things but constantly finds things out of his control. Doctor Terrence Kyne is your typical scientist who wants to fix everything and Dr. Challus Mercer is the kind who wants the necromorphs to spread out of some insane religious belief. The last character to mention is Kendra Daniels who doesn’t seem to have any other purpose then to guide Isaac. All around, the characters are just what you would expect in a survival horror, B-Movie type piece of media.
When the game came out, I loved it. It was creepy, it was frightening, it was gore filled, and more than once made me jump out of my skin. But at the same time, it suffered from clichéd characters, repetitive, slow paced game play, and a forgettable final boss fight. But all around, I still consider it one of the, if not the best survival horror games of this era of gaming.