Dead Space was a game that kind of came out of nowhere there wasn’t really anything exactly like it and when it hit , it hit hard people loved the original and there’s positive things to say about the sequels particularly the second but this was such a good game with such an interesting premise and such a well-executed atmosphere none of it would have happened without the original dead space.
Today on game ranks we asked the question why was dead space a big deal so it’s hard to know exactly what to start with this game not only is the story incredible but so are the mechanics me being someone who constantly talks about how narratives are things that suck me into the world became I figure there’s as good a place as I need to start the original dead space came out in 2008 and it followed an engineer by the name of Isaac Clark on board the spaceship Ishimura in the Year 2508.
Which during the course of an illegal mining operation it was performing found something called a marker long story short the marker emits a signal that causes people to loosen 8 to become mentally ill and well eventually become Necromorphs keep in mind that’s a bit of a simplification the story winds a lot and can get kind of confusing especially once we get past the first game but we also don’t really need to go past the first game to understand why the setup works so well Isaac Clark wasn’t stationed on the Ishimura his girlfriend Nicole Brennan was and Isaac Clark went as part of an investigation team trying to find out what happened of course nothing good happened and slowly but surely Isaac gets a picture as to what went on but it’s not just a typical find out what happened before again the story also unwinds with present events.
There are other characters and you as Isaac as well as everyone else are being driven mad by the marker now I’m not going to go ahead and spoil lots of things but the story gradually becomes very very big Dead Space 2 adds voice acting Dead Space 3 adds co-op and you know microtransactions but whatever eventually you find that the whole plot is pretty interesting again I think these games are all worth playing very much right now even the third although it’s the least good of the trilogy because it does offer some incredibly interesting reveals however we’re mainly talking about the first game here.
So I won’t get too much into it there is a cult ,the cult does see the Necromorphs as an ascended form of humanity despite the fact they’re just mindless killing machines made up from reanimated tissue but it’s not just these specific events that make the atmosphere so good I mean the graphics themselves are actually fairly sparse they’re just really well done everything from Isaac’s suit which certain elements of it glow to the drab but in disrepair Ishimura background to the bloodstains to the tissue sitting around it sets a tone that’s both realistic and unsettling despite being like nothing you’ve ever seen in real life at any point ever and then you add in the Necromorphs these nightmarish creations of various bones pieces of skin arranged in horrific manners with goo and blood and well assuming that they reanimate any of the nerves that created them probably live in constant pain and their screams reflect this in basically every way the Necromorphs .
The issue mara Isaac Clarke himself and just the whole of dead space is something that’s basically unique it doesn’t try to be a polished version of the future it’s very dirty and you can make the argument that type of sci-fi has existed for a long time but when I see a screenshot of dead space I know it’s dead space without thinking when I hear sound from dead space, I know they’re from dead space we’ve talked specifically about the visuals with a sound design in this game is beyond phenomenal so much attention was put into every little tick in pain every growl every howl is just superb how well this game builds atmosphere with all of the senses I would argue part of why it’s such a big deal is that it accomplished these things in such a way that I haven’t really seen done before or since .
Well that’s certainly not to say it’s better than Resident Evil or System Shock 2 games that were listed by the developers as big influences on the game itself in fact they started off wanting to create a new entry in system shock and change direction when they decided that Resident Evil 4 was such an interesting mode of play but it would seem like a very harsh criticism to call it unnecessarily derivative of either of these titles on account when you get into play in dead space it’s just not anything like those games I don’t feel like I’m playing Resident Evil I don’t feel like I’m playing system shot when you get into using various powers that you gain aboard the Ishimura like stasis and you use bolt cutters to separate limbs from the Necromorphs rendering them no longer a threat you’re engaging in this kind of combat that’s somewhere between a physics puzzle and a shooter and all the while you’re trying to keep yourself calm because at every moment this game throws something that forces an adrenaline rush into the equation whether it be a visual or a sound or an event something jumping out at you.
This is a game that causes you stress and that stress combined with the limited amount of time you have to solve these physics puzzles that add up to its combat or in some cases not solve them leading you to a very well animated death sequence this stress leads to a style of play that’s just not like other games on top of that you can literally feel the weight of the costume that Isaac Clarke wears.
It is not a combat suit or armor it’s actually a space suit it’s meant for an engineer who’s going to be doing work on the machinery of a space ship, you do not move quickly it’s very sturdy in the way that it controls it doesn’t remove any agency from you it doesn’t feel random or anything but it also feels as though you have very specific limitations on how fast you can move what types of maneuvers you can do etc based on the weight of your costume but when you want to stomp through a Necromorphs body I mean that weight is of course an advantage and it feels quite cool as it happens again the sound design contributes a stomp on a big pile of rotting flesh that is reanimated and become a monster squishing under the weight of a metal boot just feels incredibly satisfying it looks incredibly satisfying it is incredibly satisfying but that satisfaction has to be earned. this is a game that forces you to manage it now that doesn’t mean you can’t beat the game if you don’t take inventory management and systems management seriously you can but the game is just a lot more fun if you indulge the various systems they worked up even though they aren’t really the most complex I’ve ever seen they’re just really well balanced.
And they actually have a lot of consequence it’s not that it makes it grueling or impossible to manage your inventory or get the parts or currency necessary to upgrade a weapon or your armor it’s just that it feels legitimate I’m sure this is in no small part due to both the graphics and sound of repeatedly mentioned basically the overall atmosphere being something that forces you into a certain state one where you feel like you need to make decisions quickly however you can pause the game any time while I’m playing I find myself almost never doing that I do make those decisions quickly I do act as the game prompts me to because it’s put me into that state it’s something I would call more than immersion because it’s more specific to dead space.
I get immersed in a lot of different games how I get immersed in Mario Galaxy it’s not enough to say that about dead space cadet space is its own experience in every way there’s just really nothing like it and although the mechanics did get changed somewhat for the sequel there are a lot of people who consider Dead Space 2 to be the better game and technically speaking I would actually say it is. It’s a more balanced game has a broader scope it does tell its story better and they did it actually a great job having a voice two protagonists but there’s just something about the first that makes me like it more it’s probably the pace honestly the entire feel is dripped into your brain at such a perfect pace everything is scary everything is new even when I go back to the game now and I did recently .
It doesn’t feel stale it doesn’t feel like I’m going on a ride I’ve already been on which to be very clear if that’s exactly what I’m doing but there’s just something special about it is it a perfect game no if it were perfect I don’t think that we could say that Dead Space 2 is technically a better game even if it doesn’t necessarily match our personal preferences which to be clear for a lot of people it does dead space also hit at exactly the right time for Let’s Plays it was a game that generated a large amount of interesting reactions again because it’s just such a unique game a game that’s entirely its own not only did everyone want to play it but everyone wanted to watch other people play it.
It was through this phenomenon that it actually became a commercial success although it was the only new IP that debuted in the top 10 when it came out its sales at the start weren’t really that much of a big deal but it very quickly built a community and a lot of people with a lot of influence push this game hard a few months later on the strength of basically word-of-mouth entirely it had sold a million units in fact the fan base it built up over time with people enjoying dead space so much cause dead space to sell two million units its first week it was a genuine phenomenon.
The first was such an unexpected success over time that EA pumped 47 million dollars into its sequel and somehow didn’t ruin it I mean they kind of ruined the third one but I mean not fully it has a lot of redeeming elements still you don’t see too many games take that pattern with success nowadays and we certainly don’t look back on a lot of titles as quite as inherently unique as we do with dead space to call it anything other than a big would be weird how about you have fond memories of dead space have you ever played it if you haven’t ,it’s only 20 bucks on Steam and it’s worth every penny.