Dead Space: Gore survival horror, or psychological horror story?

Posted: April 28, 2013 in PS3
Tags: , , , , ,

Whelp, I just managed to beat the game, after some years when I had the chance to play it on PC. But now that I have a PS3, and a friend decided to lend me the game for a quick platinum run (still on it, 16 more trophies to go in order to unlock the platinum), I just said “why not?”.

After getting platinum on God of War 3 in just 10 days, I told a friend to lend me Dead Space for a quick run and get more trophies (forgot to make a post that day when I achieved my personal goal, 500 trophies in 100 days, including 7 platinum in total).

I already played Dead Space in 2009 on my old PC. It was a good game for PC, but almost impossible for me to play with headphones. The stress I had while playing with closed-style headphones, was way too much. I already knew what to expect, and was eager to know what happened to Isaac Clarke while he was trying to escape the now haunted USG Ishimura.

Graphics wise, of course there’s a huge difference between PC and console, but I wasn’t playing the game because of its visuals, but the plot.

The game offers one of the most wicked atmospheres I’ve experienced, right after Silent Hill and Slender. It’s a constant idea of “something is going to appear right in front of me and cut me into sushi”. The BGM does wonders as well to keep you tense and with your finger on the trigger all the time.

The story itself is quite interesting: A interplanetary mining team goes to this strange area, starts digging, finds a twisting red statue (the Marker), they reverse-engineered it, “aliens” invade the Ishimura and kill everyone in there, and those with a weak mind are just brainwashed to become their “loyal servants to the cause of the great race”. Radio comm not working, so let’s just send the engineering team and solve all this stuff!

Compared with other survival horror games, like Resident Evil 4 (with the same idea of “Over the shoulder, 3rd person camera” system), is that you get more “screamer” parts than the other. It’s like going back to the time where survival horror games were, well, SURVIVE and BE SCARED (I still laugh at every Resident Evil since 4. They just killed the franchise. Some of those games don’t even exist on my brain because of reasons). Sure, you do get a certain kind of “shop” where you can get med packs, ammunition, new weapons and suits, kinda like RE4 (where you could find the salesman on random spots, not after every single mission, like the next games). Although this helps a bit to remove the “less shots, more dmg” idea, it’s still in there. Necromorphs can’t be killed if you just shoot them in the head. Nope, not at all. They will keep moving their limbs and run towards you. Wanna kill ’em without wasting a lot of bullets? Lacerate their limbs.

As you progress through the story, you can also find Power Nodes, used to improve your weapons, your RIG (armor), Stasis and Kinesis stats. Upgrading weapons does not only increase damage, but reload speed and clip size as well. Armor will give you a larger oxygen reserve and more health. Stasis increases the range, duration and reserves, and kinesis increases the beam’s max distance, so you can be on lazy mode and pick up that health pack that’s across the room without walking to it.

The psychological part is the selling point. Come on, a freaking creepy voice singing “twinkle twinkle little star” while you’re walking through a bloody corridor? While there’s only a creepy, quiet background sound? AND NO ENEMIES AROUND? I’d go nuts if I was there instead of Isaac.

You also find a few human characters on your journey inside the Ishimura. And, they’re not healthy at all. From the head, that is. A guy obsessed with accepting his “new fate”, forcing others to join him in death, a crazy medic that talks with a ghost, your own crew members, and, of course, Isaac.

As you play through the game, you tend to get flashbacks from that opening videolog, mostly audio fragments (which, if you’re a nervous person like me, makes you jump from time to time), reminding you that Nicole (Isaac’s girlfriend) is out there, trapped inside the Ishimura, hiding from the Necromorphs, and that she’s waiting for Isaac to rescue her. Strange stuff happens around her, when you get to be right next to her. And well, if you’ve already beated the game and you haven’t checked the name of the chapters, if you take the first letter of the first word from every chapter name, you get an acronym that reads: NICOLE IS DEAD. Something you get to understand (the “Imma throw my controller through the window” way) right at the end, when Isaac turns his head to the copilot seat (where Nicole’s “ghost” (?) was sitting) and finds a creepy, red projection of her, screaming at his face right before the credits roll.

As mentioned up there, the fear factor is always present. “I’m going to find something here that will try to kill me”, “The BGM is creeping me out”, “I think… There’s something on my back watching me…” (THIS ONE… IT’S MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK. AND IT DOES HAPPEN. A LOT. IF YOU’RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION). “Please be inside this box…”, “I wonder if 2 small medpacks and 20 plasma bullets will be enough until I find a store…”. Most of times you won’t expect “mini bosses” or even quarantine zones (2 or 3 waves of Necromorphs), forcing you to think twice before pulling the trigger, trying to find that lucky “2 for 1” shot.

Overall, Dead Space makes it perfect for a 9-10 hours thriller game, with a balance between the action and the screams. If you haven’t played the game yet, don’t jump straight to the 2nd or 3rd game. You’ll be losing a lot of background story. And creepy stuff you’ll love. Start from the first one, and if you own a console, be it a 360, PS3 or Wii, you can add up more to the story with Dead Space: Extraction (Wii, PS3) and Dead Space: Ignition (PS3, 360). Even more with the novels and the animation.

Twinkle, twinkle
Little star…
How I wonder what you are…

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