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Posted on Oct 17th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under backlog, Dead Space


I realized a while ago I need to do something about my backlog.  While I could just sell it, many of my games are digital, so the next best thing (after unplugging and living off the grid) is to just play them.  But given that my time is a bit limited (husband, father, mortgage, laundry, zombies, etc.), just finishing the game isn't my ultimate goal.  I need an easy way to check these games off and move on when I am done with them, and thus, The List was born.   


**DISCLAIMER** - PICTURES AND VIDEOS BEYOND THIS BREAK CONTAIN VIOLENCE, BLOOD AND GORE, AND ADULT LANGUAGE THAT MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AUDIENCES. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.




NOTE: When I first wrote this, I intended it to be a companion piece to an article I was working on about my backlog. The idea would be I would do little write-ups (less than 1000 words) for every game I finished.  But in the end writing extra articles just wasn't feasible and proved too exhausting, so I abandoned it.  But the game is really good and I don't want this article to die, so here you go.

I've played the Dead Space series in the wrong order, and it kept me from touching any of the other games.  I started with Dead Space 2 because I found it on sale and since the game was relatively new (at the time), I jumped on it immediately.  And to those that have also, most I think would agree it is an amazing game.  I then moved onto the iOS Dead Space, which is a prequel featuring different characters.  Excellent game, given the controls and platform, and an easy recommend.  The first Dead Space also seemed good, but for some reason I would never play it more than a few minutes.  Maybe because I already know what happened (given my experience with the sequel and mobile prequel), so why bother?  Well, I payed money at some point for this game (and the third one, for that matter), so I might as well fire it up.  This was a prime example as to why I started up The List to begin with.  Plus, HowLongToBeat.com thinks Dead Space on PC is only around ten hours, so what better way to start off this journey than with a relatively short game?

Game #1: Dead Space
Release: October 2008 (in all regions)
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Total Hours: 17


After playing and finishing Dead Space I have to say it was a very enjoyable game.  While it is an original title, many of the games themes and elements feel borrowed from other franchises, though done with a certain slant.  The beginning feels a lot like the rescue-ship premise of Event Horizon (sans Pinhead ripoff).  The music give strong vibes of John Carpenter's The Thing, being nearly all high-pitched strings, and falsely luring you into thinking an invisible conductor knows every encounter, until a terrifying crescendo happens without a monster in sight.  Resident Evil 4 sluggish over-the-shoulder character movement is here.  Monster closets, (a la DOOM), are in abundance, but they tend to vary quite a bit as far as frequency, so that even near the end of the game you will still hit some nasty surprises, and I would be amiss to leave out the ambience of System Shock 2, crawling with mutants and other nasties.

While all of that is well and good, my personal favorite bits of the game are the puzzle parts.  "What!?!" you ask, "This doesn't look much like a puzzle game."  Well, you are right in that, my friend.  It doesn't really have traditional adventure related puzzles, but instead it has a lot of battle-related puzzles.  See, the baddies in this game can be dispatched relatively easily in one or two very specific manners.  Basically, this involves blowing off limbs, but in certain baddies a specific order of limb/trunk damage is required.  Now, you don't have to do this, but it will conserve a lot of ammo.  In the beginning of the game it is very simple, with a bit of variety, but near the middle portion of the game you will have to juggle multiple different kinds of baddies, each requiring a different strategy (or even weapon).  This becomes very challenging at higher difficulties (and is practically an art "Impossible") and accounts for a lot of the fun I squeezed out of this game.


You never know which one is dead and which one isn't...

There is a lot going on in the game but you know what?  I'm not going to talk about it!  Well, maybe the beginning.  You play the role of Issac Clarke, an engineer working for the Concordance Extraction Corporation, gets called out on a rescue mission to peep in and make sure that everything aboard the USG Ishimura, a "planet cracker" resource gathering ship, is tip-top after receiving a distress signal.  Issac, who is much an engineer as Gordon Freeman is a physicist, flies in with crew of the USG Kellion investigate.  Of course things get all pear-shaped pretty quick, and Issac's education-earned job of flipping switches and pressing buttons now expands to also include using mining equipment and other implementations to destroy mutated...  things.  Now that I think about it, that is pretty much Dead Space in a nutshell.

Horror is served up in spades with Dead Space, and not just the traditional horror that most people think of when they hear the genre title, survival horror, that being blood and guts.  There is also a fair amount of body horror (from enemy mutilation), as well as a goodly amount of psychological horror (though severely lacking compared to its sequel).  But the real bread and butter of this game is the jump scares.  Now I know, even when I write that I can't help but think of that classic dog-jumping-through-the-window scene from the first Resident Evil, and in a way it is like that, but dialed up to "eleven."  Enemies can and will emerge from nearly any kind of vent or door, or even sometimes from underneath bodies.  More than once.  But the developers have a wicked sense of humor here, and there isn't really any identifiable pattern to the jump scares (thought they are scripted).  You can pass five, ten, or twenty bodies without seeing any (and potentially wasting a lot of ammo checking), then suddenly a bad guys erupts out from under a corpse, and an air grate behind you flies open and begins disgorging enemies.

I only found one weak point in the game, and that being the implementation of the "BENCH" upgrade system, which allows one to juice up your weapons and armor using Power Nodes (which can be occasionally found, or purchased in a Store for 10,000 credits).  It is very good, but given the amount of money available in the game (which does not respawn), I don't think it is feasible or necessary to upgrade more than two or three weapons).  Really though, I don't think there is much incentive to do so outside of idle curiosity.  The game requires of you to use different weapons in certain situations, but upgrading them does little more than add damage, so focusing on a few weapons, while continually upgrading your "rig" (which boosts things like health and armor).


Weapons range from traditional projectile, to energy, to flamethrowers and flying buzzsaw guns (?)

Simply put, Dead Space brings a lot of entertainment to the table, assuming you like horror and aren't put off by gore, or even if you have to wait until the kids are in bed to boot it up.  The more I played, the more I wanted to find out the mystery behind the USG Ishimura, and which character (if anyone) is completely bonkers.  And when I finally beat the game I replayed about an hour in just so I could see some of the events again with a coating of hindsight.  Overall fun, and with a good amount of content if you are into multiple playthroughs. 

Dead Space is available for multiple platforms at a variety of prices, most of which go down dramatically during holiday sales.  If you haven't already played it and the thought of mutilating zombie-mutants doesn't offend, why not give Dead Space a whirl.


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Comments
 
I played Dead Space back when it first came out and thought it was really good.  I'm glad to hear that it holds up well nearly 10 years later.
 
I played most of this game a couple years a go and loved it. It's a shame what happened with Visceral games lately.
 
@Disposed Hero:  I was a little surprised myself, especially after taking so long to get into it (and the sequel being so good).

@Addicted: Oh no!  I really had no idea, now I feel like I need to pour one out for them or something.  Well, I don't drink, so I guess I will have to play through Dead Space 3 and maybe try to hunt down Future Copy: LAPD on the PC or something (my version of pouring one out for Visceral).
 
@bombatomba: It is sad. Speaking of the sequel here's an article on the financial aspects of Dead Space 2 and why selling 4 million copies was considered a failure. It also sheds new light on why Dead Space 3 had micro transactions.

http://www.pcgamer.com/former-visceral-designer-says-dead-space-2-cost-60-million-and-underperformed/

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