So the long awaited Dead Space remake has finally released and to rave reviews as well! Everyone seems to agree that EA Motive, the developers of the remake, completely knocked it out of the park. And I’m going to go ahead and tell you right now that this review is going to be no different. I absolutely love the game and whole heartily recommend it to both new and old players of the series. But rather than end the review there, I’d like to talk about what makes the remake so good! So if you’d like to hear about that, be sure to stick around.
It wasn’t that long ago that I replayed the original Dead Space on PS3 and the game holds up extremely well! Sure the graphics are dated but they aren’t exactly bad either, they aren’t hard to look at or anything. In every other way though, the original game is still extremely fun and playable. Because of this I was originally worried when I heard the announcement of the remake. In theory it should be hard to mess up remaking an already great game, but as we saw with the Resident Evil 3 remake it is very much possible. Beyond that, the Dead Space remake could have easily just felt unnecessary, not really doing much to justify it actually being remade. The remake needed to be more than just some new graphics to really get people raving about it. Other things about the game had to actually be changed. And luckily, the remake did just that!
As I was saying before, the original Dead Space holds up extremely well! So much so that I didn’t really think there was much that could be done with a remake that would actually improve it. But I couldn’t have been more wrong about that! I’m just going to come out and say it, the Dead Space remake is better than the original. It takes parts of the original game and managed to make them better in ways I was not expecting. For instance, I was pretty on the fence when I heard that Isaac, the main character, would be given a voice for the remake. While Isaac does talk in both Dead Space 2 and 3, for the original he was a silent protagonist and I honestly preferred him that way. He was very easy to relate to and I just never really liked the way he was written in future games. However, now that he has been given a speaking role for the remake, I don’t think I could go back to the silent Isaac from the original. While I do feel he isn’t as relatable, I can’t deny that Isaac is far more of an actual character this time. Looking back at it, it was kind of odd that Isaac didn’t speak originally. He was basically just someone that Kendra and Hammond, the other two main characters of the game that easily spoke the most, could order around to do things around the Ishimura, the ship the game takes place on, and Isaac would just go along with it. Now Isaac plays a much more active role in the story!
A big part of the story is that Kendra and Hammond don’t trust each other and Isaac is kind of being pulled between the two of them. This aspect of the story is still very much intact for the remake but now Isaac actually speaks up when it comes to the fighting between the two of them, and the writers managed to do this in a way that doesn’t completely change things. Isaac has his own concerns that he raises in the middle of all the arguing that doesn’t change the story between Kendra and Hammond but now Isaac doesn’t just sit there awkwardly listening to the two. He is very much here to do a job and he wants to get that done before things get worse on the ship. Of course, the main reason Isaac came along on this mission at all is to find his girlfriend, Nicole, who is currently stationed on the ship.
Isaac’s relationship with Nicole is another aspect of the game that is very much improved on. The two feel far more like an actual couple. This also gives us some insight into Isaac’s backstory, something that was never really explored in the series before. Now I won’t go into too much detail regarding this if you’re wanting to avoid spoilers, but I have to bring it up as the developers did a lot to give the story and characters more context. For example, the two other crew members that accompany Isaac, Kendra, and Hammond are actually given proper names and some character! They are no longer nameless crew mates that die in the first five minutes! Now they are named crew mates that die in the first five minutes. Joking aside, this is actually a bigger deal than it might seem at first as their deaths actually tie into Hammond’s story this time around. And if the developers did this for two very much side characters you better believe that they did it for the main cast as well! In fact, Nicole actually has a whole side quest dedicated to what she was doing on the Ishimura during the fall out of everything. And that brings up another big topic for the remake, the game play changes!
Now at first glance I didn’t think there really needed to be any changes to the game play of Dead Space. As I said before, even now the original plays well and is a lot of fun! So I feared that trying to change any of this up would result in a much worse experience. And just like before, I was very wrong! While a lot of the core game play hasn’t changed there was a lot of more minor changes that really improve things! For example, the side quests. While there are only about three of them in the whole game, each are not only worth it but are also easy to do and don’t feel like padding or a slog to complete. As I said before, Nicole has her own side quest where Isaac puts the pieces together of what she was up to as the Ishimura was falling apart. This not only helps flesh out her character, which we really didn’t get to see lots of in the original, but it also helps flesh out her and Isaac’s relationship because, again, we really didn’t know much about in the original. We knew they were dating and were very close but that was about it. Now though, we get to know how they actually met and what brought them close. It makes Isaac’s search for her feel a lot more important and less like just an excuse to have Isaac in this messed up situation. But side quests do a lot more than just provide new story content, they also will often give you new weapon upgrades which brings us to another change from the original!
All the weapons from the original game return for the remake and have actually been tweaked a little this time around. First of all, you no longer need to collect schematics and purchase the weapons at the store, now each weapon is simply given to you as you progress through the story! Some of them are even a bit missable if you don’t look around enough. I actually rather like this change! It let’s the player have the freedom of trying each weapon out without the fear of them wasting their money on something they might not like. This is a survival horror game after all, managing resources is a big deal. And spending money on a useless weapon like the Flamethrower always stung. Beyond that, you must now also find upgrades for the weapons. While you still need to use Power Nodes to actually upgrade the stats of the weapons like in the original, now some of the stats will be locked out until you find an upgrade part for said weapon. Not only that, each big upgrade you find will unlock something more unique for the weapon. Like how one of the upgrades for the Plasma Cutter now let’s you set enemies on fire. So while there are no new weapons, a lot of the weapons feel much different this time around. Some are even given completely new alternate fire shots and some have just been straight up improved, like the Flamethrower! This is another change I really didn’t know I wanted but now that it’s in the game, I don’t think I’d like to play without it. But this doesn’t just stop at the weapons either, some more game play tweaks were made as well.
Probably the biggest one people will noticed is that moving in zero gravity has completely changed! Rather than jumping from point to point like in the original, you now have complete control of your movement as you use your thrusters to float around as the developers have taken the zero gravity controls from Dead Space 2 and used them here. While that probably seems like an obvious change it actually affects more than you think. After all, this now means that the developers need to go back and change every zero gravity section, and they did just that! Entire sections of the game have been completely overhauled. EA Motive knew that even changing minor things would have a ripple effect. Certain parts of the game wouldn’t work anymore like the zero gravity sections with the new controls. As such, they made sure to follow these changes and see what else needed to be shifted in order to make the game feel like these changes were there from the beginning rather than added for the remake. Something very similar was done with the Resident Evil 1 remake for the GameCube. For that game, the developers knew they would have to change around the layout of the Spencer Mansion. But they also knew they couldn’t change too much! They had to keep it similar enough that returning players would recognize this place as the Spencer Mansion. And given that the RE1 remake is often considered to be the greatest remake of all time, I’d say they manage to do that. EA Motive seemed to take this exact same approach when it came to changing the Ishimura. While I could very easily see the new changes it still felt like the Ishimura to me! It isn’t a new ship, it’s just a remade one.
It’s actually really easy to compare the Dead Space remake to the remake of RE1. Which is something that EA Motive should be proud of! As I said before, the remake of RE1 is often considered to be the greatest remake of all time. Despite it’s age, new remakes are still being compared to it even now. This is because it’s a remake that evolved the original. It took what made the original great and made it greater not by reworking everything about it but adding to what made it great in the first place. The Dead Space remake at it’s core is still very much the original Dead Space, the important difference is the fact that they added more to an already great game. It’s different from what happened with the remake of Resident Evil 2. While that was also a great remake, it felt a lot more like a new game with the same characters rather than a remake of RE2. Still a great game, but a different one. That’s what makes it hard to say that the RE2 remake is better than the original, they are far too different to compare. Meanwhile, I don’t think anyone would recommend people play the original RE1 over the remake unless they want people to see how things have changed in the remake. This is how the Dead Space remake is going to be seen as well. I doubt anyone would recommend the original over the remake at this point. They aren’t different games, the remake is just, well, better!
Honestly… I’m having trouble finding anything to complain about when it comes to this remake. EA Motive managed to nail everything about it, improving things I didn’t even think needed to be improved. If you asked me before if Dead Space needed some side quests I’d tell you ‘No’ right away. I’d argue that it would take away from such a tight experience and make the game have less focus. But now? Now I can’t really imagine the game without it. So much is added because of it. Each change made to the game was thought out and not thrown in because it made sense. This remake isn’t a cash grab like I thought it was going to be originally but rather a passion project. The developers of this game so clearly adored the original. They studied everything about it and figured out what made everything tick so that they could improve it. So in the end, yeah, I don’t really have much to complain about! I suppose if I had to pick one thing that annoyed me though, it would be the fact that they haven’t announced they are remaking Dead Space 2 yet!
But those are just my thoughts! What are some of yours? Did this review help convince you to give the game a try? If you’ve already picked the game up, have you been enjoying it as much as me? I’d love to hear your thoughts so don’t be shy!
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