Dead Space is back then, but instead of hooking into the series with a whole new game EA have given us a remake of the 2008 PS3 game that started it all off. But before you instantly switch off on the assumption this was just a cash grab half-arsed remake, think again. The developers have not only stayed faithful to the original game but also brought some new elements and flexability to make your survival all the more creepy and satisfying.
The thing you want the most from a horror survival game – atmosphere – is present here by the bucket load. The USG Ishimura oozes tension, from it’s tight corridors lined with the blood of… well, probably best not to think about it, through to the fantastic sound design that has you listening out for the tiniest creak, rattle or footstep nearby. As such your ideal environment here is a dark room, a decent set of headphones and speaking from experience to the contrary, no cats to walk in and scare the hell out of you by jumping on you when you about to sneak round a corner. Adding to this is the PS5’s controller which uses some of its subtle feedback to add to the effects, but I can’t help but feel like there was quite a lot of room for development with this. Feeling your heartbeat pulse through your hands when you’re in the silent vacuum of space is very cool, but generally it felt a bit lightweight.
Those of you looking for something over and above the original will want to hook into the new side quests dotted around, offering some really nice kit if you’re willing to put the work in. These extra missions need you to move around the ship far more than the main storyline itself, and with you needing to revisit previous areas that means something else new to the remake as you head back to previously completed areas and have a far more free reign of the ship as you progress through the main game and side missions. There’s no requirement to do these, but they’re more than just filler content and really help you to gear up for some of the more challenging moments later in the game.
Going back to the first game in a successful series, especially one that drops back a couple of console generations, is always potentially sketchy; just look at the Mass Effect series remakes for evidence of that. But Dead Space doesn’t feel like a step backwards at all. You could come into this having never played a Dead Space game before and feel like it was a game made for now; it doesn’t feel 15 years old that’s for sure. Admittedly it’s not going to knock your socks off in terms of top end visuals compared to the best looking PS5 games already available, but the total lack of loading screens, the engrossing lack of HUD (almost everything you need is shown on the suit and weapons) and immense atmosphere is more than enough for this to feel like a game fresh from 2023.
So whether or not you’ve played Dead Space or any of its sequels before, chances are it’s been a good while since you did. As such revisiting Dead Space or trying it for the first time will give you the same outcome – a scary, atmospheric and enjoyable experience that’ll keep you on your toes with your heart rate up and your nerves on edge. If it used a bit more of the PS5’s graphical grunt and did a better job of the Dual Sense controller we’d have an absolute diamond here, but even so this is definitely worth a look.
Reviewed on PS5