Dead Space 1 – A Never-Too-Late Review

I played Dead Space on a computer that could completely support the game’s highest settings, and it was absolutely disgustingly beautiful. There many were times when I cringed and looked away as some monstrosity popped out a spawn from an oozing hole in its chest cavity. I found myself pausing and contemplating going down murky hallways where my flashlight’s beam couldn’t reach the end.

The aliens that make up Dead Space’s goons cast are all unique and must be specially dealt with. When you have a room full of different monsters, a level of tactical decision making comes into play that really helps extend the freshness of the campaign, as opposed to other shooters where you just have more of the same enemies to plow through.  Also, to go with my previous point about the visuals…the monsters are really freaking creepy.

Complimenting the semi-strategic fighting are occasional puzzles. Nothing anything more complex than a basic “move-this-here-than-this-here” type gimmick, but enough to keep you thinking and allow your heart to return to normal levels, for a little bit anyway. Some of the more interesting puzzles are played out in rooms where there is no gravity, so you are free to walk on every surface in the room.

I was really impressed with how the design team managed to keep the game from feeling the same for the duration. The entire game, aside from the very last bit, takes place on the same ship. I thought that by level three I would be bored with looking at metallic hallways and hearing the snap-hiss of door locks opening doorways for me. The designers broke up those metallic hallways with great set-pieces, like the zero gravity puzzles, and some turbo-gun sessions.

One last thing I really liked was the “follow-the-blue-line” projector-gizmo. With a press of a button, Issac shined a hologram onto the ground that guided me in the direction I needed to head in. This allowed me to feel comfortable exploring areas I didn’t need to be in, without worrying about getting lost.

There is very little wrong with this game, but for the sake of the review I will bring them up.
For one, each level started off basically the same.
Something like: “Issac, good job fixing (whatever the last thing you did was). Ok we should be ready to go now as soon as…oh no…(insert random big mechanical problem here). I need you to go fix it.” Then Kendra goes on to tell you that she can somehow open all the doors to where you need to go, but she can’t do anymore than that. Then she says something melodramatic like, “I really don’t know if we’ll make it out of this, Issac *sigh*”
This isn’t really a big deal, as the focus of the game is the creepy environments/monsters, which it excels at, but as a writer I just found this as a cheap way to begin each level. I would have rather been told from the get-go, “Issac, everything is broken, here is a to-do list, I’m going to hide in the closet, radio me when we’re ready to leave.”

As I stated earlier, the monsters are all very well designed and unique; well the bosses, sadly, are not. Every single boss fight pits little-old Issac, up against a giant hunk of rotten fruit cake with 5 or 6 giant tentacles. Every single boss encounter involves you dodging/shooting at the tentacles, and more specifically the giant glowing pimply things growing all over the tentacles/fruit cake. The bosses were HUGE, though the actual intensity of the battles was easily out-done by a room of 3-4 creepy-crawlies scurrying out of air vents at you. It isn’t a game breaker, but it was definitely disappointing.


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