This Halloween there are many videogames you can pick up and enjoy that are sure to scare you. With that in mind it seems like the ideal time to revisit a classic series and experience once again, or for the first time: the Dead Space series. These titles were known for their engaging survival horror gameplay, terrifying monster design and compelling narrative and on the scariest night of the year, they are the best played in the dark.
The Dead Space series started in 2008, with the release of the first game which quickly became a market success. The new IP came to the market with to praise from critics and players alike. Players take on the role of Isaac Clarke, a ship systems engineer who finds himself in a series of horrible situations. The first title took players to the USG Ishimura, a giant planet cracking ship that went dark, and sees Isaac and crew arrive to see what went wrong and fix any problems. Within minutes of stepping onto the ship though, it becomes clear that things are not what they seem.
You see, in the Dead Space series the main opponents are a polymorphic undead species called Necromorphs which mutate and reanimate corpses, reshaping them into horrific new forms by recombinant extraterrestrial infection. Within a matter of hours of an outbreak the Necromorphs can infest and control an area of giant size as seen in the opening hours of Dead Space 3. The Necromorphs are one of the best enemies in any horror game thanks to their look and gameplay variety. For example, a simple headshot won’t stop these creatures and you’ll need to cut their limbs off with the famous plasma cutter before taking them down for good. Some can regenerate, others are heads with small tentacles that rip off a hosts own head before taking control of the body and others are massive in size and covered in amour plating. They are fearless, dangerous and powerful both in numbers and on their own.
Dead Space makes sure players can fight back though, even with the limited ammo and resources that are standard in survival horror titles, and provides players with the chance to build some deadly weapons. The series staple Plasma Cutter is an engineering tool and a number of the weapons you’ll find stick to this theme. Later entries bring more military grade weapons into the mix but the engineering background of Isaac is always of use somewhere in each title be it in making the weapons or upgrading them.
One of the best things about the Dead Space games was how over the course of the series players were able to see different stages of the Necromorphs and the events surrounding them. The first title puts players in the immediate aftermath of an outbreak, the second title gives players the chance to see it from the start - give or take a few hours - and see it progress up to a catastrophic stage towards the end of the title. Finally in Dead Space 3 players get to see all the stages from the beginning of an outbreak through to the aftermaths to both a recent and historical outbreak along with the final ‘endgame’ stage of an outbreak, if you will.
Not only did the story develop over the entries but so to did the gameplay. With more refinement and polish to the controls making them more responsive and engaging also came a greater balance of action and horror, especially in Dead Space 2. Sure, Dead Space 3 did focus more on action and cooperative play over the horror elements but it was still a scary and entertaining title with a lot of developments from a plot and lore standpoint. That said though, each title has something special to give the players and it is worth experiencing them all to really understand just how satisfying and scary these titles were.
If the three main entries in the series are not enough for you then why not check out some of the spin-off titles including Dead Space: Extraction and Dead Space Ignition. There was even a mobile title that took place just before the start of Dead Space 2 but sadly it was pulled from stores, making It unavailable. It is not just videogames though, as Dead Space also received a number of animated films and comic book spin-offs and tie-ins that are worth checking out as well to experience the full Dead Space universe.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and Dead Space is no different as Dead Space 4 will likely never happen. The series ended with a cliffhanger which made for a fantastic setup for a fourth title but by the powers that be, it will not happen due to the poor sales and the fact developer Visceral Games is no more. Of course, this cliffhanger was part of the optional DLC that acted as an epilogue to Dead Space 3 and even without that the series ends in a fairly satisfying way. Though it would be nice to see where Isaac would find himself next and just how he’ll get out of this one.
At the end of the day, Dead Space is a fantastic series that is definitely worth your time. Make sure to do yourself a favour this Halloween and take the time to play, revisit or even finish the series and experience the horror for yourself. If nothing else, you’ll find titles that have stood the test of time and are still brilliant even to this day.
Here's to you Dead Space and here’s to you Visceral Games.