Dead Space Remake aims to bring the survival horror classic into the flesh for new gen. Delve back into the Ishimura in our Dead Space Remake review!
Remakes are the in-thing with the video game industry as of late. We’re experiencing the Resident Evil series’ best offerings in a new light, fighting Shinra across three titles in a revisit of Final Fantasy VII, and now we’re boarding the Ishimura once again as the original Dead Space hits 15 years old in 2023. Not just a graphical soup-up, these titles subvert seasoned players by making changes, whether it be quality-of-life additions or entire sections of the game playing out in a new lens.
The bar is high for a game like Dead Space – many consider it a title that has aged like a fine wine, still being graphically-impressive and mechanically-sound after Visceral Games’ impactful effort in 2008. As such, Dead Space Remake will have to not only match that high quality, but surpass it to warrant a revisit when fans can just reinstall the original should they want to.
The majority of Dead Space Remake takes place on the U.S.G. Ishimura – you’ll soon realize this is Hell in space.
More than just a remaster, Dead Space Remake aims to recreate the tense, edge-of-your-seat horror action that sparked the franchise in the seventh generation of consoles. With Dead Space 2 being a masterful follow-up and Dead Space 3 really thinking outside of the box, my playthrough of the series last year is fresh and fond in my memory. Feeling just like Resident Evil in space, it’s bolstered by some of the best immersion I’ve experienced in gaming, thanks to an eerie atmosphere of isolated sound cues and well-placed jumpscares.
While the technology at the time was impressive, we’re now two console generations ahead and can bring out the best in games with 4K visuals, advanced AI, and graphic fine-tuning with Nvidia DLSS and ray-tracing. So it’s time to once again board the Ishimura and see how the sheer fares in the new gen landscape in our Dead Space Remake review!
Dead Space Remake Review – Gameplay
The biggest question people are going to ask for the Dead Space Remake is how does it differ from 2008’s Dead Space? I’ll address that all through this review, but I’m pleased to say that the core gameplay is largely unchanged – for the better. That means if you’ve had time with the original, your muscle memory is going to kick in from the very start.
Aiming for the limbs was a novel concept in 2008, as gamers are so accustomed to aiming for the head. As the game’s horrific Necromorphs won’t take damage to shots to the head or the body, your precision is a must if you want to survive. Whether it’s the tried-and-true Plasma Cutter or the devastating Force Gun, old players will feel right at home, whereas new players will be wowed by the unconventional tools at their disposal to dispatch the terrors that lurk within the Ishimura.
You’ll recognize familiar areas in Dead Space Remake – and be introduced to new ones.
With an AI that spawns enemies methodically, Dead Space Remake is going to do everything it can to keep your heart racing. At a consistent rate, I was conserving ammo, strategizing my fights, and trying new things across my playthrough on Normal difficulty. Save Stations were always there at roughly 5-minute intervals to ensure I didn’t lose too much time if I were to die – and the necessary checkpoints before tough boss fights come massively appreciated as someone that hates to lose progress.
Enemies always fit the situation to demand your prioritization – you’d better shoot the Exploder before anything else, as if they get too close, one hit and you’ll see Isaac lose a few limbs. Budgeting for the store/upgrades is worthwhile too, as you decide whether to make your weapons stronger, stock up on health packs, or load up on ammunition.
“Yep, let’s gett the heck out of here.”
Throughout Dead Space Remake, you’ll be treading the same path as you did in 2008 – but some segments have been overhauled to create a fresh experience. You’ll be utilizing the anti-gravity flying a bit more, some puzzles are re-tooled, and some bosses are going to require a different approach to defeat.
For a seasoned Dead Space player, there’s enough new additions to warrant going into the Remake. For new players, it’s as equivocally an engaging, intense title as its predecessor. With the familiarity present for the majority of the playthrough, it’s surely more optimal in terms of graphics and presentation, but it isn’t so vastly superior that it overshadows how stellar the original Dead Space plays to this day.
Dead Space Remake Review – Audio
Where Dead Space Remake shines the absolute brightest is its presentation. Truly one of the most terrifying settings in gaming history, the U.S.S. Ishimura bodes for a mortifying place to be stuck with monsters at every turn. The soundscapes employed are the perfect accompaniment to the grotesque, disturbing visuals. At any given moment, you’ll hear pipes bursting, distant screams of terror, and most importantly, whispers in Isaac’s head.
If you’re searching for where to go, a distinct audio cue emanates from the door you need to open – a nice touch for those that get lost easily. When an enemy finally comes into the fray, you’re greeted with tantalizing orchestral cues. These are enemy-appropriate as well – tiny, creepy-crawly enemies come with plucky strings, whereas behemoth Brutes are met with a sweeping brass section. With 3D audio utilized in Remake, you’ll be able to sense what kind of enemy is coming from which direction merely with your ears.
Just taking in the (horrific) ambiance.
The absolute biggest change between Dead Space and Dead Space Remake would be that Isaac Clarke is now voiced instead of a silent protagonist. Gunner Wright makes his return to the RIG after voicing Isaac in Dead Space 2 and 3. His dialogue is faithfully-performed, as you can sense the palpable shock when major story beats hit and tangibly feel the pain whenever a Necromorph digs into Isaac.
The talking points are on-par with Dead Space 2/3 Isaac – he’s deeply disturbed to the point of psychosis and is steadfast in his pursuit of saving his significant other Nicole who is aboard the Ishimura. Giving Isaac a voice in this game means that there’s back-and-forth with other characters that ultimately changes most of the game’s dialogue from the original. Overall, it’s a welcome addition that only adds to Dead Space Remake‘s powerful immersion.
Dead Space Remake Review – Story
What has made Dead Space a timeless classic is its ability to tell a strong story on top of its memorable combat. Utilizing just the right amount of influence from Alien in its setting, the suspense is front-and-center from the second you know that things are sideways aboard the Ishimura. Dead Space Remake throws its story at you thanks to video communication across your team whenever it’s vital. But you can gather exactly what happened through the game in its impressive “show-and-tell” approach.
One of the most iconic pieces of imagery within this title is when you first pick up the Plasma Cutter with a blood splatter on the wall urging you: “CUT OFF THEIR LIMBS”. Audio and text logs breathe life into the world of Dead Space, creating lore and background that rewards the player for going off the beaten path and investing into the tale.
You’ll need all the advice you can get against Necromorphs that can kill you in a few hits – this piece is the most important, though.
Another big change is that Dead Space Remake has an alternate ending. I won’t go into details to avoid spoilers, but the fact that there’s more to experience in this Remake solidify the idea that Motive can expand upon the Dead Space IP and deliver more to longtime fans while appeasing newcomers. Tack that on with the fact that there’s more voice-acting, added side missions, and clever switches in certain sections, and this is a story that can be enjoyed by both returning players and those experiencing it for the first time.
Dead Space Remake Review – Visuals
The big overhaul in Dead Space Remake is the graphical presentation. The Ishimura has never looked b̶e̶t̶t̶e̶r̶ more disgusting than it does in 2023. I was simply blown away with the attention-to-detail on several occasions. Polish really shined when I noticed the blood dripping down Isaac’s RIG, individual lights flickering in different fashions, the tweaks to certain Necromorphs that make them more intimidating, and much more in-between.
No, Isaac’s not dead here – this is one of the several awesome suits within the Deluxe edition.
I genuinely sat back in shock when I first used the Force Gun and watched the flesh get stripped right off of my enemy, standing alive as a ghastly skeleton still intent on ending my life. There’s no screen-tearing, no visual glitches, or anything to break the immersion, and as it’s paired well in-sync with the auditory atmosphere. Dead Space Remake is going to elicit the same fear players felt in the original game, only more clearly, more vibrantly, and more grotesquely.
This monstrosity had its flesh ripped off by my Force Gun – and it’s still trying to rip me apart.
Dead Space Remake Review – PC Performance
Our Dead Space Remake review was played on a PC with an RTX 3080, an i9-9900k, 16GB of RAM, and an SSD. I played on a 4K/60fps monitor with High settings and enabled Nvidia DLSS at the Balanced setting. My playthrough only saw a few framerate dips – while they affected my immersion, they never caused me to take damage. The biggest problem I encountered were some stutters here and there – these likely stemmed from having too many other programs open.
The fog effect here is some of the best I’ve seen in gaming – Silent Hill should take some notes.
All things considered, for a 1.0 release, Dead Space Remake is in great shape, and thanks to comprehensive advanced graphics settings, can tailor to any rig in recent years. One thing to note – due to no load screens between levels, you’ll see some slowdown when new sections are getting loaded in-game. In addition, an SSD is listed in the minimum requirements, so this is a no-go on a hard drive. Thankfully, SSD’s are the norm in 2023 and you’d be hard-pressed to have a modern system without one.
Deciding if purchasing the Remake is worth it is a point of contention that players familiar with the original Dead Space franchise will have. The case that the 2008 game still plays fantastically today is undeniable – I had a rollicking good time getting frightened by it just last year. Luckily, Dead Space Remake does just enough to be a cruise down memory lane, whilst perfecting the formula and expanding the universe where it has room to be expanded.
With the most prevalent differences being the new puzzles, dialogue from Isaac, and dynamic AI, it’s not a through-and-through different game, but it’s an enhancement of what made the original so great. The pace never slows, the immersion is undeniable, and if the performance can be perfected, this will be the gold standard for new gen remakes.
So, why should you play it?
- Unbelievable levels of tension, immersion, and polish that make for one of the best horror action experiences around.
- Challenging difficulty balance that tests every skill level.
- Story, gameplay, graphics, sound, and everything in-between is of superb quality.
But why shouldn’t you play it?
- You need a high-end rig to get the best experience – and even then, some graphics tweaking is necessary.
- You can’t handle scary games – this is one of the scariest.
- You consider Dead Space 2008 to be perfect the way it is.
A review code was kindly provided courtesy of EA Australia for the purpose of our Dead Space Remake review. If you enjoyed this, be sure to follow us on socials and check out more of our game reviews!