Dead Space is not a game you want to play alone or in the dark. Being of the survival horror genre, like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, the game puts you in dark rooms, tight corridors and such high tension that every corner feels like it may be the last one you turn down.
Playing as a space engineer named Isaac Clarke, you are sent to an outer space mining ship named Ishimura. Picking up a distress signal from the ship, Clarke’s crew goes on a mission to investigate, only to find it completely lifeless with the exception of Necromorphs, monsters that look like mutated humans. With the rest of his crew killed in a surprise attack and only left with a technology expert, Kendra Daniels and senior security officer, Zach Hammond, Clarke must re-power the Ishimura to survive.
I’ll be honest: This game is scary. Though Dead Space is very Resident Evil 4-esque with its third-person perspective and very limited ammo and health, it’s the atmosphere that will have you gripping the controller (or keyboard and mouse) to its breaking point. The soundtrack and sound effects will have your nerves on end, and the graphical power makes every light and shadow pop out to the point where you could’ve sworn you saw that shadow move.
When you do see a shadow move, watch out. The Necromorphs are not your average monster. Shoot them in the head and they will still run at you. The game hints very early on that you must shoot off their limbs to fully incapacitate them, but it’s difficult when they are skittering on walls and leaping in the air to close the gap between you and it.
However, the game doesn’t leave you to fight the horrifying Necromorphs without some help. The useful “Stasis” that is acquired early in the game can be used to slow down an enemy so you can take your time and aim at the Necromorph’s limbs with precision. If you ever get lost, pressing a certain button (depending on if you’re playing the PS3, Xbox 360 or PC version) will have Clarke drop something and will illuminate the right direction for a brief period of time. Even with all this help, players must have a will of iron to keep a steady hand while Necromorphs, sometimes hordes, come in from all sides.
Though the game play is solid, the camera can get a little frustrating at times, sometimes being too close to the character’s shoulder and blocking almost half of your screen in a very small room. Clarke is also very noisy when it comes to running. The physics engine will sometimes have a dead corpse stick to his feet as he runs, making it sound like something else is following behind you.
Despite these drawbacks, the game is fun (if you like jumping from fright and being paranoid before entering every room) and is a must buy for Halloween. Turn off your lights, crank up the sound and maybe invite a few friends over and prepare for a game that will make you double check the room before sleeping that night.
SHANE PARK can be reached at email@example.com