Back in the Xbox 360 says, the original Dead Space somehow managed to evade my gaming grasp. I'm not entirely sure how — the concept is certainly up my alley — but either way, the series slipped by and I never got around to playing it. So, when EA Motive revealed it would be fully remaking the first game from the ground up for current-gen consoles, I was pretty damn excited by the concept. After going hands on with the first 3 or 4 hours of the game though, I'm torn on how I feel about Dead Space so far.
Let's start on the visual front - this is a gorgeous reimagining of the 2008 game and the team at Motive has done a fantastic job at modernising the game's graphical makeup. Volumetric fog effects and light shafts look fantastic and do a great job at adding a thick layer of atmosphere to USG Ishimura, and modern lighting techniques do wonders for how the game plays with light and dark to ratchet up the tension. Those of you who are looking for a grand visual overhaul of Visceral's classic have got that here, and then some.
That extends to the pair of performance modes as well, at least for Xbox Series X users. I spent the first 10 minutes or so switching between the quality and performance options, and while there is a definite bump in shadows and visual clarity with 'Quality', 'Performance' mode at 60FPS is the way to go for me. Dead Space looks and feels great in that mode, and it provides the best option for a lovely balance between impressive visuals and a solid frame rate. The images within this article have been taken in Performance mode on Xbox Series X - and it still looks a beauty!
Now, here's where I'm torn a little bit. I will start out by saying that, again, I haven't played the original Dead Space so I don't have that framework to pull from. However, as a first-time player I feel like Dead Space gets in its own way at times. The game provides the tools and delivers the combat scenarios of a good third person shooter, but the mission design feels so linear that I constantly feel like I'm tripping over myself, and bits of the environment, to get stuff done. So much so that, much of my fighting so far has involved me wandering backwards through levels just to create the space I need to take down enemies.
And yes, I get that Dead Space is designed purposefully to feel somewhat claustrophobic - that's half the point. However, I'd have liked to see the game hold back on combat a little bit and go down the more 'survival horror' route based on how the missions are designed. After my first few hours with Dead Space, I'm not sure if it's trying to be a third-person action game with a spooky setting or a proper survival horror game, and I think it could be even better if it went further in one of those directions.
Even so, I'm still enjoying my time with EA Motive's Dead Space remake so far. It certainly hits all the technical notes you'd want to see from a modern remake, so if you already know you're a fan of Dead Space from your time with the original, I can definitely recommend picking the new version up based on what I've played at this stage. If you're a new Dead Space player in 2023 though, it might be worth tempering your expectations just a little bit, and preparing yourself for some linear level design that doesn't always work perfectly.