Ever wonder what it would be like to be drifting alone in space with no escape plan, slowly watching the ship whose air you’re quickly burning through come apart at the seams, all the while being chased by unimaginable horrors that won’t die after shooting them in the head?
You…you haven’t wondered that? Just me? Really? Come on, guys, it’s not that much of a scary scenario, is it? It is? Oh…
Well, anyway, moving on…
Dead Space tells the story of Isaac Clarke, an engineer sent with a small crew to the U.S.G. Ishimura, a planet-cracking ship that they lost contact with recently. What they find is a horrific alien entity bent on killing or assimilating them, and what began as a possible rescue mission becomes a lone man’s fight for survival inside a quite-literal box of death. In space.
While I might be a little biased in my assessment (I first played Dead Space on a full-wall projector with surround sound, and wept as I cowered before a human-sized Isaac taking down vile Necromorphs taller than him), this game scared the crap out of me. Beautifully gruesome visuals, terrifying sound design, and a wonderfully creepy score elevate the tension on the Ishimura, sometimes past the breaking point in certain areas. Movement can be a little clunky, but it’s only to be expected of an engineer with no combat training trying to survive; in other words it’s a perfect emulation.
Enemy types can get repetitive after a while, with their zombie apocalypse vibe, but the level design makes up for those shortcomings, especially in the vacuum stages. Story’s a bit convoluted, which is probably a deliberate design since it highlights the alienation you feel all alone, seemingly without a purpose beyond survival, in the depths of the void. The story opens up more if you play through the sequels as well, which you should really do if you can get past the first game. What could be worse?
Is it perfect? No. Is it groundbreaking? Nope. Is it scary? Oh, hell yes. Do I love it all the same? Absolutely.