Space, the… FINAL frontier, kind-of. Today I’m silent protagonist Isaac Clarke. A group of Space Engineers and I travel to what seems to me a proper space ship. Only to find out everything that could go wrong, went wrong. In essence…. Humans exhausted all the resources of Earth, then when they find a “rock” on a different planet. No one stopped anyone and said, “Dude, maybe you shouldn’t disrupt the nature of another planet.” Instead , we do the exact opposite, and aliens invade the space ship. Thus stamping a new video game in the survival horror genre of games.
Like a true survival horror flick, Isaac isn’t built for killing. We’re starting from scrap with everything. Every gun, armor and minor tactic. Which is great for character development, if development is the key term we want to use. Controls are clunky as all get out and a constant learning curve moment to moment. I felt as though every 30 minutes the controller was switching button configuration, kinda like the ineptitude curve of Batman Forever on the SNES. Meanwhile, speaking of character development, like Ronan in Murdered: Soul Suspect we have a wife hanging over us and haunting our character. And again, like Murdered: Soul Suspect, it was really a huge waist of my time. To which I feel it would be really important to give video gamers a huge hint. The only video game with a dead wife worth caring about…. James and Mary from Silent Hill 2. Meanwhile we have to deal with the “team.” The group of insignificant supporting characters include the following: two to three easily killable people due to lack of basic instinct to survive at all. A blond woman who’ll tell you what to do despite everyone else telling her it’s not a good idea. However, this goes against man rule number 5, “The woman is always right.” So, far it’s helped me in this game. Meanwhile there’s Captain-Commander-General Umpty-squat who’s constantly being verbally poned by the blond chick. So, off the side we’ll get told to do shit for him because he’s too caught up to do it himself. While not telling the other one what we’re up to. Neither of this makes any sense, nor adds or subtracts characterization to the video game. It’s like added voices to a video game because it wants you to know it’s still involved with entertaining you with something of a storyline, goal or character. Thus, we’re left not having relatable characters we can all love and adore, i.e. Rhoda from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Instead we’re dealing with surviving an alien infested space ship with two bimbos who are having military rank issues. Great…
I’ll go on record to say for everything in a horror video game to be built on the trifecta of story, atmosphere, and gameplay. Dead Space nearly misses with the story and gameplay, but atmosphere nails it on the head. The only problem I felt through a majority of the game is how many shades of grey-scale could we traverse in a space ship? Every corridor and room is either grey, off grey, dark grey or sometimes. Wait for it, white and with a few hints of other colours. It’s like the colour department was ran by a group of emo kids and one of them found the colour brown once. Thus the beginning of the movement also known as steam-punk. However, Dead Space saw the colour grey and said, “Ya’know, some yellow and red blinking lights once in a while would be different.” Environments include the Shuttle Bay, Medical Department, Engineering and other significant areas of the space ship. The simplicity is built on the goal orientation of getting from point A to point B and killing nearly every alien to then turn around and get back to point A killing (again) the same aliens if not more in quantity and or difficulty. Thus continuing the story line. Examples include getting to the Engines, turning them online to then get back to the main room just so the space ship can get out of orbit from the planet we fucked with in the first place. Next, we travel to a gun bay. Shoot a bunch of asteroids, literally asteroids 1980’s style and then going back to the same main room we started in. Just to travel to another trivial area. Yet, I’m still not convinced Isaac was the only guy in a group of three people who could have pulled this all off.
The overall package is complete with strengths and weaknesses all of their own. Dead Space delivers a new side to survival horror in terms of theme. Innovation is nothing short in terms of utilizing finally a game where gravity physics in a game is a variable. Or may I say an illusion as a variable. There are splendid moments of being in chambers where gravity no longer holds you down, meaning every part of the room is consequently both ceiling and floor. However, even in times of battling aliens it was a hit and miss of figuring out if the lack of gravity was actually making me feel like a little bitch. As far as weakness is concerned, for a horror game, jump scares are not scary… They’re annoying. Especially when it’s the above cast of characters communicating to you via Heads Up Display (HUD). Or a message from dead wifey for no reason popping out of nowhere in the middle of a dark hallow corridor. Never the less, timing of these moments couldn’t be any more annoying throughout the game.