Review – Dead Space

When it was released in 2008, the original Dead Space was thrilling. I loved it so much that I covered its 10 year anniversary just a few years ago. Back then, I stated that whilst it’s a fantastic game, it is starting to show its age. However, despite those games proving to be a phenomenal action horror franchise, it faded away after the third game was released to mixed reactions, and the franchise has been dormant for the past ten years. So what’s a better way to bring it back than a full-on remake of the original title?

You play as Isaac Clarke, a Systems Engineer for the USG Kellion, who has been sent on a mission to investigate communications issues on the planet cracker, the USG Ishimura. When Isaac and the crew arrive they find the lights off and nobody on short-range comms. Eventually, they crash into the Ishimura, anwhere they are thrust into a survival situation against a horde of monsters, and a rapidly increasing amount of technical issues that must be fixed, all whilst trying to find a way off the Ishimura.

Dead Space Ishimura Computer

This is how I remembered it.

A lot of the story has been kept intact, so if you played the original, you will pretty much know all the major story beats, so don’t be expecting much in the way of change here. It’s an engaging story that puts you straight into the middle of a nightmare, wasting no time at all. Complete with all the excellent plot twists and brutal deaths; the world is intriguing, and rediscovering the Ishimura incident has been one of my favourite moments in the past couple of years.

However, it has been tweaked to feel a bit more modern, with some clever twists that managed to surprise me despite being very familiar with the story itself. It has more dialogue and world-building than ever before, using elements introduced into the sequels to flesh out the game’s story. This time around, some plot points have been given a much greater focus by introducing them much earlier in the story. All of this comes together for a story that is more cohesive than the original, but does lose some of its subtlety in the process.

The biggest change in the story though, is with the characters. Our protagonist, Isaac Clarke, is now fully voiced and integrated into the story making it feel much more personal for him. Giving him much more depth and personality; becoming a critical part of the crew and coming up with plans instead of being a casual observer that is just bossed around. The biggest improvement is surprisingly Kendra Daniels, who went from one of the most boring characters in the original, to one of the best in the franchise. Seeing her character develop throughout this remake was a great change.

Dead Space Isaac

The USG Kellion crew got a massive upgrade, and Isaac is now part of the story.

If you played the original game way back in 2008, you will also know what to expect from the gameplay. An over-the-shoulder survival shooter, with an emphasis on strategic aiming and resource management. So that’s what you also get here. Whilst this is an incredibly faithful remake, it isn’t a basic 1:1 remake either. Many intelligent changes have been made without compromising what made the original so memorable, evolving it in unique and interesting ways. First of all, the core gameplay is still about dismembering the terrifying Necromorphs in strategic ways to slow their approach and allow you to reposition, but how damage is done has been tweaked. This time you will need to shoot certain parts more often as you peel back their flesh and reveal the bone. It’s a neat damage indicator for an individual body part that also encourages better aim by hitting the same areas.

The Dead Space remake controls incredibly well and the gameplay never gets boring, thanks to the wide range of Necromoprhs you will be fighting, each with their own strategies. It took me twelve hours to beat the game, with just about everything completed except a few log files. Whilst I didn’t die too often, some fights were intense and resources were limited, but not harshly so, especially when it came to credits.

Jumping up to Hard is recommended if you want an extra challenge, with harsh resource allocation and tougher enemies. On top of this, there is an impossible mode (Iron Man Mode) where you have one life. I’m currently making my way through this, and whilst terrifying, I’m having a blast with it. Beyond impossible, there’s NG+ that allows you to bring a fully upgraded Isaac as well as another few neat additions I won’t spoil. So there’s plenty of replay value.

The USG Ishimura is one of the most iconic locations in horror games, so how do you improve it in the remake? By opening it up of course. More so than the original, this remake encourages exploring every area of the Ishimura, with more routes, backtracking, and secrets to find. At any point, you can go back to the tram and return to previous sections, ranging from the likes of the engineering deck, to the bridge or hydroponics. Chapters no longer prevent backtracking, making the Ishimura feel that much bigger. To encourage backtracking, some areas are locked behind security doors, which can only be opened when you increase your security clearance. Every time I saw a door or locker that required a higher security, level I would make a mental note of where it was and ensure I’d swept the entirety of the Ishimura before the ending.

Another big addition to the level design are the powered doors. At key moments you may need to power up a door to get through, but sacrifice something else, be it the lights or even oxygen. It’s a well-designed mechanic that is used often enough without it feeling too forced. The level design as a whole is familiar, but with enough changes to make even veterans wonder what’s coming up. With more routes and rooms added, there are tons for returning players to discover, making it all worthwhile.

Dead Space Liz Cross

Bloody hell.

To make backtracking more engaging, the game deploys what they call an “Intensity Director”. As far as game directors go, this is definitely one of the most effective. You never know what you will encounter when backtracking. Lights may start flickering, vent fans may become dislodged and shatter, or Necromoprhs in once previously cleared areas may show up again. It’s an effective way to keep the tension of the game really high without spamming the same events at you, especially when going for the sidequests, which are brand new to this remake. These sidequests aren’t the most memorable, often times simply telling you to go to multiple areas around the map. Although, it does encourage backtracking and exploration, whilst developing the story further.

It’s just a shame that Motive didn’t go one step further with these, and do something a bit more unique and off the path set by the original. There are no real unique encounters with them, and as such, completing them kinda left me just feeling like something was incomplete. However, this is a minor complaint considering how well-built the rest of the game is. Dead Space takes everything special about the original and makes it feel new and refreshing.

Then there are the gameplay improvements that were pulled straight out of Dead Space 2. Kinesis is much more useful, now being able to rip off sharp limbs from enemies and then launch them right back, pinning them to walls. The in-game map is much more cohesive and readable. There’s also the fact that Zero-G now has full 360-degree movement, with Isaac now being able to fly around the arena easily. This turns those dull spacewalk sections from the original into something much more exciting. However, it’s not perfect and I found the flying controls to be slightly awkward, especially since there’s no way to fly directly up. Still, it’s not a deal-breaker, and certainly an improvement over those dreadful sections in the original.

USG Ishimura

Hello Ishimura my old friend.

To fit with this new gameplay these entire sections have been overhauled to be much more exciting. Without going into spoilers some may remember the space sections like the leviathan being kind of underwhelming encounters. Making incredible use of the Zero-G environments. Certain chapters have seen big changes as well and it all just flows together better. The one issue that I have is with the final boss who is still pretty underwhelming. I also wish that side quests were a little bit more expansive and creative with no real new encounters in them. There’s so much more they could have done with the Hunter side quest.

Weapons have also seen a major switch up. The Plasma Cutter is still the same trustworthy and iconic powerhouse that will most likely be your primary weapon for much of the campaign. Although, a bunch of the original weapons have seen some major rework, such the Pulse Rifle and Line Gun getting a new alternative fire mode that drastically improves their utility. Then you have the likes of the Force Gun and Contact Beam getting ground-up reworks, turning them into top-tier weapons. These two actually work wonderfully together, with the Force Gun now firing off a mini singularity grenade to pull enemies together for the Contact Beam to shred. The weapon arsenal as a whole is just a bunch of fun to play with, and I feel like there are no longer any underperformers.

If there is ever a game to say “this is how I remember it looking”, the Dead Space remake is almost certainly that. From the very start of the game to the very end, the stunning engineering design of the Ishimura is wonderfully on display. It makes for a game world that feels much more real and lived-in than the original release. With every room packed to the brim with atmosphere and details that are mostly unrivalled. All of this is helped by some phenomenal lighting and volumetric effects. There are some rough spots specifically with some of the animations which can look a little weird.


When the lights go out, the Ishimura truly descends into darkness.

Surprisingly, Dead Space is also Steam Deck verified. When booting the game up, the default settings are nicely tuned out of the gate. It finds a nice balance in visuals, largely at Medium settings, which looks absolutely fantastic, especially on the handheld screen. With the game demanding an SSD in the minimum requirements, I would highly suggest keeping it on internal storage if possible. You won’t be getting a solid 60FPS, so I would also suggest putting your Steam Deck into 40Hz mode for a solid balance between performance and battery life.

Isaac Clarke is much more talkative in this game, with him finally getting a voice by the sequel’s voice actor, Gunner Wright, who provides a phenomenal performance as an engineer who is in for the worst job of his career. It’s good to have Isaac back with bad-ass one-liners, and increased frustration and fear throughout the game. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast also does a fantastic job. Kendra Daniel especially, as I said before, is a fantastic upgrade over the original character. Elsewhere, the sound design is also excellent, with plenty of atmospheric sounds that work wonderfully to create a sense of dread, as well as a soundtrack that also sells the tension and epicness of battle.

EA Motive has done an excellent job recapturing the magic of the original game, whilst expanding and improving on several key areas. Managing to take what was already a superb game and make it even better. Although, a couple of extra tweaks really could have brought it to the next level. The Dead Space remake stands up there with Resident Evil in “how to do a remake”, and it’s one that I highly recommend for fans and newcomers alike.


Graphics: 9.5

One of gaming’s best locations has never looked so good. The USG Ishimura has reclaimed its throne as one of the greatest horror environments.

Gameplay: 9.5

Exploring a fully opened-up Ishimura provides one hell of an experience.

Sound: 9.5

Gunnar Wright returns as Isaac Clarke, bringing much-needed character to an otherwise empty shell.

Fun Factor: 10

The Dead Space remake sits among the best remakes ever made. It keeps all the elements that made the original special, whilst also improving on them in just about every aspect.

Final Verdict: 9.5

Dead Space is available now on PC, Xbox Series S/X, and PS5.

Reviewed on PC with an RTX 2060, Ryzen 5 3600X and 16GB RAM. Tested on Steam Deck.

A copy of Dead Space was provided by the publisher.