Dead Space Remake arrived on Xbox Game Pass on October 26, 2023 (here about the Best Horror Games Available on Xbox Game Pass). My reaction to the news was, “I can finally pick up the 2008 action horror developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts that I never finished. Like hell I’ll be afraid to play it this time!”
Fifteen years ago I crapped my pants so much when I got to a certain point in the adventure – which I honestly don’t remember now – that I decided to abandon it there on my Xbox 360 along with a packet of pages from a guidebook printed with so much love by my father. Not even the game’s solution managed to spur me on to proceed into the meanders of the Ishimura, the spaceship infested with the most aggressive monsters in video game history (now I don’t know if they are actually the scariest but my memory, for the time, said they were).
Years go by, you grow up but the horror genre in my favorite medium still doesn’t totally appeal to me. However, the choice to download the Dead Space Remake I saw as a personal challenge. I said to myself, “put on the suit, wield the Plasma Cutter and face the Necromorphs again because you really risk losing a video game made as god intended“.
If I am finally here to write it means that I survived. I have defeated the final boss, knowing that I have completed one of the best productions of 2023, unfortunately excluded from the GOTY-nominated titles (but also sti cazzi I would add). Despite this great achievement, it must be said that it was really tiring to be able to adapt, at least in the first few hours of the campaign, to the madness that invaded Ishimura.
How to Screw the Necromorphs
In Dead Space Remake you shoot that is a delight. Each of the nine weapons at your disposal is unique and over time you begin to learn about each feature and its strengths and weaknesses. The Plasma Cutter, for example, is versatile and works in any situation; the Force Gun is a valuable shotgun for use when the thin line between life and death becomes almost imperceptible and the Flamethrower allowed me over and over again to raise a firewall through which to disrupt the charges of the Necromorphs and at the same time damage them.
This excellent diversification in firearms clashes with the survival component of DS Remake. Therefore, do not expect to hoard ammunition. Better yet, you can also accumulate no end of them but know that the game will certainly not stand by and watch you become the Rambo of space. It will confront you with unexpected confrontations, hordes of rampaging beasts – Necromorphs attack relentlessly, leaving no time for reasoning or breathing – and if you are not good at targeting enemies’ weak points, that’s when the abundant loot will evaporate like snow in the sun. You will never be executioners but always victims of the most terrifying spacecraft ever. At first this inferiority was so obvious that I thought several times that I would never make it to the much-needed credits.
However, the strategy I used to try to turn this situation around as a perennial hero on the run with his heart in his throat was to restart the game often from the last save (checkpoints are many and close together): I entered that gnawed mode for which if I couldn’t handle creature spawns the way I wanted to, taking as little damage and using as little ammunition as possible, I would look at Isaac, the protagonist of Dead Space and say to him, “Is that so? Do they feel that strong? Well, let’s restart from the most recent save point so much as the points in the room from which the Necrophomorphs will pop out are to the left and right of the entrance, and the explosive canisters I can throw at them are close to me Are you being bullies? I’ll fix you now”..
In desperation, I make do as I can: this method has eased and not a little bit of the stress that, whether you want to or not, you end up accumulating by moving within the Ishimura. Nevertheless, the closer I get to the goal (who knows which one actually because setbacks for Isaac are just around the corner), the more I realize that the satisfaction I will get when I put an end to the threat arising from this monolith, the Marker, which is turning people into monsters, will be high. Guiding me toward solving the case, however, is not so much gameplay that for those who love the survival horror genre is likely to be addictive, but the feelings that Dead Space Remake manages to convey in the exploratory stages and the discoveries that follow.
Dead Space Remake: when atmosphere is everything
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish it anyway Fra even though I’m improving. In this spaceship, I feel like I’m going crazy like Isaac. Who made me start a new game, though! However, there is a voice inside me urging me not to give up. I think I will follow it“. I was initially writing on Whatsapp to my friend and Freaking News author Francesco Muccino.
At some point, in fact, it happens that the narrative and environmental strength of DS Remake become the only possible fuel to continue, even when ten minutes of gameplay seems to take forever, an in-game time constantly weighed down by a tension that could have broken through my monitor. The work from the point of view of atmosphere that Visceral Games did in 2008 with the original Dead Space and taken up by Motive Studio in this Remake is overflowing, and here lies the real driving force of the game.
The elements that make Dead Space Remake a real ticking time bomb are the sinister noises and sounds generated by the screws of the Ishimura tubes suddenly jumping; the voices and whispers that enter your head to try to take control of your brain (if you play with headphones I like to talk about sensory orgasm); they are those brief moments when observing dying crew members who raise their gun to shoot themselves in the head, preferring suicide to transformation into Necromorphs, and finally, the near absence of illumination, here replaced by the madness that permeates every room and becomes the only light to follow in the darkness.
The effectiveness of the atmospheres and the beauty of images; the power of the unexpected sound that makes your legs shake as much as the verse of a Necromorph not yet sighted and the quality of writing to be revealed through dialogues, textlogs and audiologs scattered throughout Ishimura, defeat the fear that can be felt when facing the countless incarnations of evil. This is what I thought once I reached the end of this lonely heart-pounding journey. In short, if it was not clear, I strongly urge you to play Dead Space Remake, all the more so if you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass. Don’t miss out on one of the best experiences of this 2023 and yet another gem that has landed in Microsoft’s catalog. That’s all folks!