Dead Space Remake Hands-on Look

From my perspective, the original Dead Space from 2008 still holds up nicely in terms of graphics and gameplay. Compared to next-gen show stoppers from 2022, its art design stands out. Dead Space has remained popular despite being a remake, and developer EA Motive seems to have found the most room for improvement in the game’s minor aspects.

I still think the original is solid, but it has nothing on the extensive glimpse of the remake that EA Motive gave to the press.

Playing this early build of Dead Space brought home to me how brutal the original game is. While gory games were undoubtedly popular in the mid-2000s (consider the success of Gears of War at the time), Dead Space made a concerted effort to one-up the competition. There’s no doubt in my mind that I erased the Necromorph infants from my memory but now look out because they’re all grown up and ready to skewer you in the brain.

The USG Ishimura, where the events of Dead Space take place, has been reborn—hissing and more terrifying than ever. The Ishimura is, without a doubt, the least friendly ship in any universe, and it is incredible to see this rust-colored behemoth in such stunning clarity.

There are no loading windows or cutscenes to speak of, either, so you may go on your exploration without interruption. One of the most iconic settings in gaming is made even more spectacular by the ability to freely explore its terrible labyrinth.

From a peeling system that provides the Necromorphs with even more layers to carefully slice away to audio technology that dynamically reacts to whether or not Isaac is harmed, a motivation has made a big fuss about the new technology like this located under the hood.

However, beyond these superficial updates, Motive has incorporated an astounding new trick—the Intensity Director—to provide a previously absent layer of intensity. An intriguing unintended consequence of the expanded world in the remake inspired the creation of the Intensity Director.

The original Dead Space’s terror came from carefully scripted situations, but this Ishimura has potential and should be explored to its fullest. However, if you turn around, you might not have to be as cautious about returning to rooms you’ve already checked out.

The Director of Intensity responds, “Not so fast.” It doesn’t shout its existence from the rooftops, but if you start to feel too secure, it’s always there to give you a jolt. Motive claims that hundreds of events can occur depending on the “dice roll,” including everything from tiny changes to the surroundings (such as light and smoke) to the spawning of Necromorphs; I had to rewind several times before I realized that the room hadn’t always hissed.

Dead Space Preview Screenshot

The new elements in the remake don’t fundamentally alter the gameplay, but they make the experience more enjoyable overall. Example: the “Peeling System,” as Motive dubs it, gives each Necromorph multiple layers of extra flesh, tendons, and bones to slash through. Even while it’s pleasant to be able to dismember your enemies, the extra blood and guts provide a more (this word seems suitable here) visceral feel to the game.

As a metaphor for the remake’s goal of expanding what makes the original so enjoyable, “The Peeling System” works quite well. To sum up, if you thought Dead Space looked nice before, it looks even better now, and if you thought Dead Space sounded good before, it sounds even better now.

In many respects, Dead Space is a compromise between the extremes of recent remakes. It’s not quite as recent as The Last of Us, but it’s not as old as Resident Evil 2 or 3.

Every EA Game in Development

The Last of Us Part 1 offers an opportunity to experience the best version of an already terrific game, while Capcom’s revival of Resident Evil 2 remains the gold standard for remakes, but Dead Space fills a niche in between those two extremes.

Plenty of new content renders the original Dead Space unnecessary, but it doesn’t convince me that playing this will be an entirely different experience. The result is a depth where none existed before and sickeningly excellent layers upon layers of added detail. These changes don’t so much refresh the Dead Space experience as they do provide new and veteran players with something to sink their teeth into.