Freebie Feelers is a series where we download the free monthly console-specific or newly released free-to-play games to test their worth. This series will contain some useful information as well as plenty of personal opinion. While these articles may not be reviews, we hope that you will be able to use them to help decide whether that free download is worth it.
What is it?
Dead Space 2 is the sequel to 2008’s surprise sci-fi survival horror hit and is widely considered one of the finest examples of the genre. Developed by the now-defunct Visceral Games (RIP), it continues the story of engineer Isaac Clarke as he spirals downwards into madness after the tragic and traumatic events of the first game.
While it is slightly more action-oriented than its predecessor, Dead Space 2 is definitely still firmly rooted in horror, taking inspiration from the survival, psychological, body, and sci-fi/cosmic horror genres. Relatively sparse on jump scares, it focuses more on tension, atmosphere, and an overwhelming sense of helplessness for the player, with plenty of blood and gore splattered about for good measure.
What did you think?
Dead Space 2 is an improvement on the first game in almost every way, and it absolutely deserves the critical acclaim it received on release (our reviewer was impressed with it too).
The tighter controls make the game feel smoother without sacrificing difficulty. Whereas the first game made you feel gimped as a tactic to increase difficulty (ala old school tank controls), Dead Space 2 is challenging without being unfair: If you die, it’s almost always your own fault. The dismemberment system from the first game makes a welcome return, and thanks to the improved controls, it never gets old slowly taking enemies apart limb-from-limb (which is lucky, since doing so is fundamental to defeating them).
The story is engaging and original (with some excellent twists and genuinely emotional moments), and it nails a great balance between believable, grounded science fiction and bizarre, supernatural terror. Further, having Isaac as a voiced protagonist this time around makes him feel more relatable and human.
Excellent sound design, atmospheric lighting, and visuals really help bring the horrific events and monsters of the game to life. There will be moments where you’ll just want to stop and appreciate how much effort has gone into making Dead Space 2 feel dark, oppressive, and dreadful. I wouldn’t recommend it though, you’ll probably die.
Is it worth downloading?
If you love horror - in particular the sci-fi variety - this is a must play, especially for free (frankly it’s worth buying at regular retail price). It’s not going to win you over if you’re not a fan of the genre to begin with, but anyone who has always wanted to play a game inspired by Alien, Event Horizon, and various Lovecraftian stories is going to be in their element. It’s also great if you just really feel like testing your resolve and proving to your friends that you’re not a big old wuss.
It’s available for free on Xbox Live until April 30th.