Lights out, surround sound on. I am Isaac Clarke. Visceral Games spares no detail in its latest masterpiece of immersion, wonder and horror. Enter the dark future of Dead Space 3, a science fiction dream come to life that is easily one of the most visually stunning in the genre, surpassed only by how awesome it sounds. With every step, whether it’s peeking around an unlit corner, scrambling for cover, rocketing through space or stumbling blind through a storm, we are listening with dread. By weaving deliciously eerie environments with a symphony of ambient sounds and audible clues, Visceral Games delivers highly engaging gameplay that stands apart from other popular space shooter titles.
Just as Dead Space 2 was a brave leap forward from the first title, which is widely held to be more or less flawless in terms of gameplay and presentation, Dead Space 3 is a giant step for the series – a move that has garnered a lot of criticism. From the moment we are reunited with our troubled hero it is clear that Dead Space 3 is anything but more of the same dark corridors, a risky move for the franchise. Gone is the centerpiece of the focal experience – Isaac, hallucinating, alone in the dark, going mad from horror all whilst fending off hordes of undead necromorphs in vast, gloomy, derelict spacecraft. Dead Space 3 pushes the envelope further with new co-operative gameplay, featuring a second main character, Carver. Players discover his background during multiplayer-only challenges throughout the story. Isaac, still flawed and unredeemed, is no longer alone in the dark. With this the presentation evolves, leaving the corridors of the USG Ishimura behind.
The risk pays off. Multiplayer mode is genius. During the heat of the battle players can help one another using voice commands to trade ammo or health without clicking a button. Many challenges are a race to coordinate both technical puzzles, swarms of enemies and the ability to react to the unexpected. Some challenges cannot be attempted in single player mode at all. Also new is weapon crafting, universal ammunition, and resource gathering. Craft your own gun, make a blue print for it and trade it to your partner. Players manage supplies and medic kits with the help of scavenger bots that can be outfitted with optional AI routines for personality and style.
Of the complaints I have read, the most common is that Dead Space 3 isn’t scary. It’s not horror. True, some scenes weren’t, but I thought the same of Dead Space 2 compared to the original. Actually, except for two very specific, terrifying encounters in Dead Space 2, I though it was only moderately creepy compared to part one. Dead Space 3 in turn finds new ways to get your blood pumping, relying less on monster pops in the dark to create fright and suspense. From a race against freezing temperatures in a blinding snow storm, or rappelling in oh-so hazardous conditions, to navigating space wreckage while counting the seconds till your air runs out, heart pounding thrills abound. And yes, some scenes are downright scary.
Bottom line, Dead Space 3 is a huge success. With a solid story, fantastic multiplayer, numerous achievements, easter eggs, unlockable game modes and more downloadable content in the pipes, there is a whole lot to like. So nevermind the critics – suit up and get stomping!