WORDS BY: Meghan Watt
A distress call muffled by static, a strangely silent spaceship, and then a frantic dash for your life — that’s a good start to immersive horror. Mindlessly plodding through rusty corridors on 10 hours of FedEx missions — that’s not quite the middle we had in mind.
When a support team crash-lands on the eerie USG Ishimura, engineer Isaac Clarke finds himself separated from his two surviving crewmates. Alone and apparently taking a vow of silence, Isaac has no choice but to help his team escape the ship via 12 seemingly endless scavenger hunts, like finding the key to access the mining bay to destroy the tethers to release the asteroid to launch the SOS.
But like a Russian nesting doll, the overarching scavenger hunt leads to even tinier hunts. While partaking in dozens of wild-goose chases, you must fend off numerous “necromorphs,” the terribly deformed animated dead that infest Ishimura. But the ammo you use to battle these foes comes in small quantities, so you’ll find yourself ravaging lockers and crates every few seconds due to Dead Space’s fascination with containers. And if you prefer that your weapons shoot more than BB pellets, you’ll need to scrounge up a few power nodes to upgrade them. Or you can purchase ammo and nodes for credits, which you’ll also find conveniently placed about the vessel. Even the story lies inside something: the logs scattered across the ship (though these devices seem to be the Ishimura’s only rare commodity).
But one ray of light shines through the musty corpse-ridden fog: the combat. What, a horror game with decent controls? Well, we’re not saying that Isaac has the most nimble feet, but clipping off the limbs of diverse foes certainly distracts from the monotony of each task. Since dismemberment causes the most damage, you must aim to hack off enemies’ arms before further riddling them with bullets. And nothing’s more frightening in the game than attempting to lop off a few arms of an adversary that happens to be gnawing on your neck.
A few standard scare tactics (dramatic music, flickering lights) and gory battles may satisfy hardened fans of horror, but loot-hunting and taxi missions will likely haunt your dreams more than the given monstrosities of death.
+ Severing hundreds of limbs...
- â€¦when you have time to glance up from endless loot-scavenging.
- ClichÃ© horror mystery isnâ€™t enough to make Isaacâ€™s journey worthwhile.
? Sorry, but was the ending supposed to be a twist?