Dead Space (2023) | Remake Review: Does Dead Space Go Too Far? | Video Game Review
Dead Space (2023) is a American survival-horror video game remake, developed by Motive Studios and published by Electronic Arts. It was released on January 27, 2023 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and the PC. The original Dead Space (2008) video game was developed by EA Redwood Shores and was released on October 13, 2008 in the United States of America.
For reference, I have played Dead Space (2008) many times and Dead Space 2 (2011) many times, with Dead Space 2 (2011) being one of my favorite games of all time. I have also played Dead Space 3 (2013), but that game kind of sucked, so we'll just pretend it never happened.
I want to start this review by explaining that I love survival-horror games. I have played so many and have always loved the genre. I was very excited when I heard that Motive Studios was developing a remake of Dead Space (2023).
I originally thought Dead Space (2023) would be a straight remake, but over time as more information was released about the game, I learned that they had added a lot of new features to the game and also the story, fleshing out the relationship between Isaac Clarke and his girlfriend on the ISG Ishimura, Nicole. I became more excited because all the new features sounded so positive, making the game scarier and with a more enhanced story to boot. Except...when I played it, I was extremely surprised at how bad I felt when playing the game.
So what happened?
So, when I first started to play Dead Space (2023), I was so amazed at how awesome the graphics looked on my PlayStation 5. Everything was so much more realistic, the lighting was amazing (for reference, I play on a LG OLED television, so that helps enhance the lighting) and they definitely fleshed out the relationship between Isaac and Nicole from the beginning. They also provided some history about Isaac and we learned that his mother was a Unitologist, which was an interesting twist on the story and partially explained why he could be so connected to the Marker from the start.
Lighting and Sound:
So, how does the game look? Well, the lighting is beautiful. There are stark differences between light and dark spaces that add tension and make the adventure incredibly realistic. The sound added to the game enhances the whole experience, so having surround sound is a huge bonus if you want an immersive experience (but trust me, you will probably shit your pants if you try surround sound out).
Necromorphs/Other Gross Shit:
When I first encountered the necromorphs, they weren't exactly scarier than the first and second games, but they were just more enhanced. I could see way more detail than I wanted to see and yes, it was totally gross. Another thing they added was the organic material that grows all over the ISG Ishimura was way grosser, way more enhanced, making me gag at times.
If you have ever played Half-Life Alyx (2020) and you have to walk through the nasty shit growing on the walls, it's kind of like that. Or maybe you've played Resident Evil: Village (2021)? You know how you have to walk through and destroy some pulsating muck that Salvatore Moreau puts up on the walls? It's like that too, but way more gross and disturbing.
The Story & How I Felt:
* Spoilers for Dead Space (2008) and Dead Space (2023) ahead
Anyway, muck, sounds and lighting aside, I'll get back to the story. I was glad at first that there was so much more information about Isaac, the Unitologists, Nicole and the other crew members, but a few hours into the game I started to feel like it was too much. By that I mean, I don't recall ever feeling depressed or hopeless while playing Dead Space (2008) or Dead Space 2 (2011). I actually don't recall ever playing a game that has made me feel that way, in fact. Dead Space (2023) is a lot like the film Event Horizon (1997), a movie that I really like, but don't watch often because it's very depressing and scary.
When I play games, I need some good things to happen. With the new Dead Space (2023) game, I felt like it was an endless road of horror, blood, guts, and I could see the characters I really liked headed for death, with no hope in sight for a reprieve. To me, I kept having the thought that this must be what it's like to spend time in Hell and I knew I needed to take more breaks than any other game I've ever played so it wouldn't affect me so much. I'm generally a happy person and I joke a lot, so spending time on a playable story that was so dark and depressing was starting to affect me negatively.
I took a break and played Dead Space (2008) to see the differences and try to figure out why the new game affected me so badly and I could immediately see that the older game looked almost more cartoony in a way (but still really fucking scary), with more light and fewer darker areas. The story was more drawn out, with little tidbits of information as you go along, so I wasn't aware of how screwed Isaac and the rest of the crew were from the beginning.
It was a genuine surprise for me when I found out that Nicole was actually dead in Dead Space (2008), but in the new game, I felt that even if I had never played before, I would have assumed Nicole was dead before the end because of how hopeless everything became throughout the game. I would have just thought, "Well, everyone else is dead and everyone good had horrible things happened to them, so either Nicole is dead or she's evil and in league with whoever is in charge (the Unitologists)."
I noticed that I felt more removed from the story emotionally while playing Dead Space (2008), which, unbeknownst to be, was something I prefer to feel when playing horror games. I find that with any book, film, or video game, I find it's incredibly easy for me to become immersed in a story and since I have that gift, I have to be mindful of the stories I read, watch or spend time with. I know now that no book, film or video game should leave me feeling so negative; they should be fun and shouldn't affect me so negatively.
As games become more realistic, the graphics improve and creators can do more as technology improves, I think it's important to remember we have to be protective of ourselves. With some people, they may play a game like Dead Space (2023) and not feel badly at all; they may just think it's a fun and scary game. For others, it may aid in depression and hopelessness, like it did for me. Recognizing how anything makes you feel in life is an important skill to be learned, for sure.
I think if I were to play Dead Space (2023) again (which I probably will, just not any time soon), I would have to limit how much I play in a day and do something that brings me joy afterwards in order to combat the negative emotions it brings out in me. I will say, despite how the game made me feel temporarily, I am grateful to have learned the lesson that some games might be too intense for me to play for hours at a time, even though I still absolutely love and am enthusiastic about survival-horror video games and horror films.
Have you played Dead Space (2023)? Have you played the original Dead Space (2008)? What do you think of these games? Do you hope to play them if you haven't? Do you avoid horror games because of how they make you feel or do you play them to feel a certain way? Share your thoughts below!