Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In space, everyone can hear Cary scream.


Today, after taking a rather long break from it, I finally finished Dead Space.

Now, I am a big fan of the survival horror genre which is somewhat strange considering I scare very easily. Perhaps it’s all the years of playing said games that has made me jumpy . . . or the massive coffee addiction . . . but whatever the case, I can’t stop myself from coming back for more. I was eager to check out Dead Space when it came out last year but never got around to it and when I finally popped it in about a month ago I was scared so badly by it that I willingly got sidetracked. At last though, I have escaped the USG Ishimura and now must yell it from the mountaintops that this is one freaking fantastic horror game.

In her review of Bioshock, Lynsey mentioned how rare it was when a video game has breathtaking graphics, a great story and terrific voice acting and what a shame it was that these three don’t come together more often. Well, I feel as though Bioshock has a spouse in this regard.

From the moment you arrive on the Ishimura you forget that you’re playing a video game. The environment is so immersive and captivating – perfect for a horror game. In fact, one of my first memories of the game was venturing out into a vacuum - in open space - and gaping at the sight of the stars, the planets, and the little glittering drops of blood floating around. I was so lost at the sight of it that Isaac (the protagonist) started suffocating because his air can was running out.

The visuals in this game are nothing sort of phenomenal. From the ship itself to the horrifying monsters to the virtual interface you use throughout your adventure – it’s all seamless. In fact, I was about halfway through the game before I realized that the visual of the door unlocking before you enter a new room was actually the load screen. Nothing at all seems out of place with this game.

If anything is more impressive than the graphics in the game it’s the sound. It’s amazing how the sound of something suddenly getting knocked over and hitting the floor in an otherwise quiet room can scare the ever-loving shit out of you. Out of all the memorable moments in this game my hands-down favorite came in chapter 10 when shortly after disembarking from the tram I walked into the large, open crew quarters and heard someone singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star off in the distance. I never did find who it was but . . . guh, it was such an amazing, creepy moment.

If I have one gripe with the game it’s the unfolding of the plot. It basically goes like this: “Isaac, can you hear me? I need you to fix this.” *30 minutes later* “Great! But now this thingy is broken now and you need to fix it.” Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It can feel very tedious at times.

This is hardly enough reason for any fan of horror games to ignore this title and seeing as how this review is about a year late, I doubt many have. But in the off chance you are still thinking about this title, hopefully this will give you the last little push you need.

6 comments:

  1. Great review. I was a big fan of the game as well, despite--as you mention--the laundry list style gameplay. Terrifically crafted atmosphere can go a long way, and the combat was stylish and fun in a way that even Resident Evil 5 fails to be. The only real letdown was watching the Deadspace: Downfall animated movie afterward. Blech!

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  2. Ha! I haven't seen the movie but after hearing that I think I'll skip out on it. Something else I really appreciated about the game was The Hunter - you know, that thing that WOULDN'T DIE? When I ran into it for the second time I honest to God thought my heart was going to pop out of my chest! It scared me sooooo badly!

    ...

    *thumbs up*

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  3. So, I checked, and I'm still in Chapter 5. I don't know how I will get through that game with that fuckin' resurrecting thing. I HATE IT.

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  4. Dude, I hated it too. So very, very much. But you must PERSEVERE!

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  5. Late comment here so hopefully you still read it.

    I recently played through the game as well and agree with you for the most part. It was very immersive and the atmosphere whilst playing was of the caliber that only few can match, the sound being the biggest factor in that. I also was reminded of BioShock while playing and, being the fanboy of that game that I am, probably enjoyed Dead Space more because of those similarities. That said, it wasn't without its flaws which is something I plan on writing about in the near future.

    As for the resurrecting enemy, as much as he did have me on edge (especially that second time), I found the fact that we couldn't kill him a little odd given we were killing much bigger enemies in some chapters. Just seemed a little 'off' to me, but anyway.

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  6. Steven,

    Haha, yeah, I'd say not being able to kill that thing was a little odd as well if it didn't make me so piss in my pants afraid. I remember the second time you run into it - when you're trapped in that maze of sorts - I seriously thought my heart was gonna burst out of my chest.

    I do not like not being able to kill enemies in games. Those regenerators in Resident Evil 4? *shudder* Scary stuff.

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