I Can’t Believe It Took Me 15 Years To Play Dead Space
Back in 2008, when Blockbuster was still a staple of British culture and not just a lone Twitter account trying to be down with the kids, my brother and I used to rent a game each weekend. I was only nine years old at the time, so I was stuck looking at kiddie stuff like Lego Batman and Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, instead of genre-defining hits like Fallout 3 and GTA 4.
Even though I was only allowed titles within my age range, I’d still take a look at those forbidden games higher up on the shelves when my family wasn’t looking. I can vividly remember seeing one game on high that used to scare the bejesus out of me – a box showing a severed hand floating through space with blood and gristle surrounding it.
I never had the courage to pick up that box, but remembered the name Dead Space for years to come, especially as I grew older and started playing as many games as I could get away with. Even when I’d reached an age when my parents gave up trying to pretend the word fuck didn’t exist, I still never went for Dead Space, presumably because I was so traumatised by the idea that Isaac’s severed hand would try and kill me if I even tried.
After many many years of avoiding that perfectly rational fear, the massive amounts of praise from a few Dead Space buffs at TheGamer gave me the push I needed to conquer nine-year-old George’s worst fear and give the newly-released remake a try. After finishing it just a few days ago, I can’t believe it took me so long – Dead Space is one of the best survival horror games I’ve ever played and a new all-time favourite that sits proudly alongside Resident Evil 2 Remake.
Going into the remake, I had a few ideas of what to expect. For starters, I'd lost my survival horror set in space virginity to The Callisto Protocol towards the end of last year, so I knew the basics of removing limbs, how overpowered a telekinetic grip can be, and the importance of stomping on everything you see.
No matter how much I thought I knew from The Callisto Protocol, playing Dead Space felt like learning it all over again. As it turns out, I was quite a good judge of content 15 years ago, because Dead Space might just be the scariest game I’ve ever played. No matter where you are on the USG Ishimura, Necromorphs always remain as a constant threat to Isaac, whether you’re just starting out with the Plasma Cutter and the world’s mightiest stomp, or you’re more geared up than a Brit at a rave.
From everything I'd heard about Dead Space over the years, the constant fear and dread combined with the crunchy combat didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was the game's deep lore and well-thought-out characters. Although something like Callisto hand waves its enemies' backstory and just tells you to kill them, the Church of Unitology is shockingly layered and interesting to pull back, making text and audio logs worth paying attention to (it helps that you can walk while you do that here, too).
Isaac is also one of the most engaging protagonists I’ve seen in years, mostly because of how sorry you feel for the poor fucker as he’s constantly watching his friends die as nasty spider-people pop out of the walls. I can’t imagine what it was like with him being silent for the entire thing, even more so after Gunner Wright’s performance here.
Even after years of being told how great Dead Space is, I was still shocked by just how great of a time I had. Nine-year-old George would never have made it past the first chapter, but 24-year-old me is already on my second run and dreaming of what Motive can do with a remake of the sequel. I may still hate that cover art, but I’m all in baby – make me whole.
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