Dead Space is Event Horizon crossed with Aliens, crossed with Solaris, and then add a little This Old House, and you got yourself a pretty fun 15 hours worth of game. I’m sure others will play this game faster than me, but I tend to let Isaac stand around while I take little snack breaks.
So, you are an engineer that is sent on a repair job, as the USG Ishimura has lost all communications. Why would anyone ever think that something as heinous as what has happened aboard the Ishimura would ever happen, right? So sure, send the engineers rather than the marines. And that is just the first disadvantage that you face as your ship crashes into the Ishimura, stranding you and two others (your captain and the science officer or whatever she is) aboard a ship full of corpses…some of which aren’t truly dead.
Personally, I adore games in which I get to kill copious amounts of zombies. I mean, if I didn’t kill them, they’d kill me and everyone I care about, and they are dead already, so no harm in finding a little joy in their dismemberment. And that is the key to Dead Space. You find out pretty quickly that these “necromorphs” that constantly pop out at you will only go down once you have hacked off enough limbs — or the one magic limb that will do the trick, but as there are usually three or more limbs, good luck figuring out what the magic limb is before the damn thing kills you.
I am not going to give away too much in this review, as I would hate to be the one who spoils a good, though somewhat predictable, storyline. It is a linear time-line, with a ticking clock aspect that adds some excitement. I can tell you that as Isaac, you are mostly wandering around the ship trying to fix certain systems that at first let you know how badly off you are on board the Ishimura, and then offer you the possibility of escape.
Dead Space makes it easy for you to navigate the ship and your objectives. You have a suit, called a rig, that allows you to check out maps of the ship, in addition to a right stick click option that points you in the right direction following a blue line that lights up rather like a GPS unit. It helps to pay attention to the other characters that guide you along the way, as they often give you advice on how to solve certain puzzles by way of repairwork. If you don’t pay attention, like me, you can bring up you rig’s handy view screen to read Isaac’s take on his objectives.
I will admit that I used the cheat codes to recharge my oxygen when outside the ship, scurrying around the broken hull (while paused X,X,Y,Y,Y). I also used the cheat for recharging my stasis (used to freeze things enough to make them move in super slo-mo in order to kill them more easily) and kinesis (which helps move large objects around, as well as pick up useful items to hurl at necromorphs) units (while paused X,Y,Y,X,Y). The use of these cheats is not necessary, as you can purchase or find packs around the ship that will recharge the aforementioned tank and units for you. But you can only carry so many items with you and “stores” where you can either buy or sell items are few and far between, so if I can lighten my load so as to be able to carry more health packs or lucrative items, then yes, I am a cheater.
And that is another thing that I liked about Dead Space. Some games reward you (?) with higher scores if you run around, knocking on every door in order to find stuff. In Dead Space, the more stuff you find, the more stuff you can sell to the store in order to buy “power nodes”, which in turn allow Isaac to upgrade his rig and his weapons. There is a true purpose to enter rooms that have no real bearing on the game — to find booty.
Dead Space ends in a way that is conducive to a sequel, which I will totally be down for, as I really like the sci fi survival horror genre. Also, I like the rather practical way the game plays out. Something is broken, you must fix it, and oh, yeah, there are lots of things that want to rip your head off.
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