Like the Necromorphs reviving the dead, Motive Studios has revived Dead Space and made it stronger and more terrifying than ever. This renovation of the 2008 horror classic restores it beyond its original glory. The dismemberment-centric gunplay feels great, it looks even better, and while the other notable changes may not seem as substantial as some other remakes, they are welcome expansions to an existing template. The result is a remake that faithfully replicates the magic of its predecessor while enhancing the elements that made it beloved in the first place.
The story of Dead Space focuses on engineer Isaac Clarke joining a small team to respond to a distress call from the USG. ishimura, a massive mining ship designed to “crack” planets and extract their precious minerals. An outbreak of vicious aliens called Necromorphs has ravaged the world ishimura Thanks to his ability to transform corpses into members of his ranks. In addition to stopping this supernatural threat and unraveling a conspiracy centered on a theistic cult, Clark must also uncover the fate of his girlfriend, Nicole, a doctor stationed aboard the ship.
The story from the original remains largely intact, but some key elements were either remixed or expanded upon with more context, based on lore established later in the series. Other than tightening up continuity and adding welcome background on side characters, these differences don’t dramatically change the flow or events of the story. The exception is a surprising change for a memorable moment later in the game – a rework that makes more sense in the context of the fact that I now like it more than its original incarnation.
Another major narrative difference is that Isaac is now voiced by the same actor who brought him to life in the Dead Space sequel. As in those games, the plot benefits from Isaac feeling like a real person rather than a dumb errand boy. Plot twists and revelations make it difficult for him to react believably to them. Motive did a good job of weaving his new dialogue into the existing script, which remains unchanged in most instances. Some performances, though Hammond’s, fall flat in a way that feels preserved from the late 2000s.
The superior presentation turns Dead Space, already as a viewer in its heyday, into a gory feast for the eyes. ishimura And its mutated inhabitants look great, and traversing blood-stained corridors is made even more harrowing thanks to the show-stealing lighting. Whether you’re blanketed in pitch darkness with only your weapon’s flashlight for illumination or basking in the eerie warm glow of the orbiting planet Aegis VII outside a window, light serves as the presentational glue that Makes this graphical facelift work. The sound design deserves a shout out too, offering devious audio tricks and new hair-raising necromorph moans and screams.
Combat feels familiar, though the reworked controls are more in line with modern third-person games. For example, Issac can run by clicking the analog stick instead of the shoulder buttons. The trusty plasma cutter and other weapons pack a satisfying punch, especially if you’re using the PlayStation 5’s DualSense features. Breaking off limbs is more satisfying and strategic thanks to the new Necromorph damage system, in which layers of skin, muscle, and bone are ripped apart. It better displays system damage and highlights weak points. For example, I loved incinerating enemies using a flamethrower, then pointing at charred, exposed bones to sever them with my cutters.
The wide array of enemy types from the original return in full force, and they’re still fun and often challenging to pick apart. Using time-slowing stasis to stop an attack before it can connect or using kinesis to pick up and impale necromorphs with stray objects, including their own severed sharp limbs, now feels just as terrifying Same as it was 14 years ago. It helps that the rooms pack more props and environmental weaponry to lug around, like gasoline and stasis tanks.
Unless you’ve recently finished the original game or replayed it enough to know its maps well enough, the change in level design probably isn’t as abrupt as a Necromorph ambush. Will happen. ishimuraMany of the rooms and layout remain generally the same, but have been expanded. Notably, you can reach some areas without riding a tram car. This change helps to make the ship feel more organically connected. Trams still exist for those who want to travel quickly between necromorph-free sections. I was lukewarm on some of the zero gravity sections in the original, where you use suit rockets to propel yourself through weightless, sometimes oxygen-free areas. I can still do without them here, but at least now, those sections have adopted the sequel’s improved control scheme so they feel less like disorienting headaches.
You can now revisit areas freely at any time, but do so at your own risk as Necromorphs can still reappear in previously cleared areas. These attacks may be the most shocking. Sometimes, I revisited a field, and nothing happened. Other times, I was attacked in surprisingly new, thoughtfully designed ways. I love how the system keeps the tense and unpredictable design of Dead Space outside of the main path, making me second guess my surroundings no matter how many times I step into them.
The rewards for revisiting areas are often money, weapon upgrade nodes, and precious ammo, all of which can be locked behind security doors levels. You will also take these journeys to complete newly added sidequests. Many of these are not extra missions, but they generally serve as a supplement to the lore. For example, a quest delves into the creation of the resurrected Hunter Necromorph. Although you’ll largely only find yourself running around the ship’s districts in search of specific audio logs or keys, sidequests add a small but tasty sidedish that elevates your fateful journey.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, Motive made Dead Space look good, played better, and preserved the core of the experience. His new height increases that joy instead of reducing it. This remake honors my memories of Isaac’s first encounter with the Necromorphs and polishes them up without reminding me of the original version. It also serves as the perfect entry point for newcomers as it feels on par with today’s titles. I hope this extraordinary modification signals to EA that Dead Space has a lot of gas in the tank and becomes a precursor to more terrifying stories in this universe.