Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dead Space

I think I watched a full playthrough of Dead Space by Jesse Cox a year or two ago, and thus I was quite familiar with the game before playing it. I had definitely forgotten a whole lot of it, or maybe I only watched parts of the playthrough. Still, it may have made the game less scary and surprising.

I cannot blame Dead Space for not trying to jump scare me -- there were plenty of those around -- but they stayed as mere attempts. Well, all but one. And it was a weird one, too, as the game had already tried the necromorph-playing-dead thing before, yet I still got surprised when the thing leaped up when I tried to sneak close enough to stomp it.

Dead Space does not rely only on cheap jump scares. The atmosphere on the USG Ishimura is quite sinister, very Event Horizon -like. The sections in vacuum with finite air supply are good at building up tension, as are the parts with the undying monster -- the Hunter, as it is apparently called. The latter certainly got me panicking.

I even got close to running out of ammo the second time I was supposed to get rid of the Hunter as I could not figure out how. I wasted a whole bunch of clips before realizing it was the shuttle's engines I had tested earlier that I had to use. Aside from that, the resources were hardly limited on Normal difficulty. I was satisfied with the challenge I got from the game, though. I died at least once to every instantly killing environmental hazard there was. I think that getting also killed by the necromorphs might have been too much and the game would have gotten frustrating.

Dead Space has some welcome RPG-elements in the form weapon and RIG upgrading. The system is a bit odd with how half of the upgrade nodes are empty. I guess it wants you to find a preferred path to the upgrades you want, but it does not end up mattering much if you fully upgrade the whole circuit.

In my opinion, the upgrade system combined with the game's economy discourages you to try out the various weapons there are, which is unfortunate, as at least the plasma cutter and line gun felt quite cool and unique. I focused on the two weapons and had them maxed at the end of the game, as well as the RIG, and the stasis and kinesis modules. I only had some left-over credits to spend before the final showdown so I consider my two weapon approach a successful one.

I guess one could go for a New Game+, but the only reasons to do so are to try out the remaining weapons and possibly to beat the game on a harder difficulty. Otherwise the run would be pretty much the same. The game's not bad, though -- far from it. It oozes polish from every corner. At least if you are playing with a controller; negative mouse acceleration, having to use the arrow keys to navigate the inventory, and such make it obvious that the port for m/kb was a lazy one. And that may affect your ability to enjoy the game.

But apart from the interface issues, the strong direction behind the game is very apparent. The team obviously had a clear picture what they wanted to accomplish and then did it. Having no HUD at all and instead placing all that info in the game world is very immersive. I guess I would rather have an actual quick save button if asked but how the save points, too, look like they belong in the world is amazing. And the whole necromorph thing and cutting off their limbs is really a cool concept.

However, I do wonder what was the reasoning for not having voice-acting for Isaac. Maybe they thought it would detract from the horror or maybe to help the player believe Nicole is real. I had completely forgotten (or never seen the part of the playthrough) how surprised Isaac was at the revelation. Surely no player could be fooled for that long. I thought it was obvious right from the start that she was dead.

Kendra's betrayal got me totally off guard, though. I did not remember or see that plot twist coming at all. Only when I saw the guy standing outside the shuttle, I thought something was wrong. And then *blam*.

Unitology is a pretty neat organization in the DS universe. Makes a great antagonist for a game. And learning about them via the various logs throughout the game sure was more interesting than any voice mail in F.E.A.R.

Scifi and horror make such a good combo, and Dead Space sure makes good use of it. Probably best played with a controller, though. The stasis module probably has more uses then, too. Although with the negative acceleration, aiming with the mouse might actually be more difficult. But otherwise a pretty good game.

No comments:

Post a Comment