Each Friday, we’re going to review some of our favourite games from days gone by, because sometimes it’s just nice to go back and revisit them.
This week is the turn of 2008’s survival horror game Dead Space.
This is a bit of a cheat of a flashback, because I actually only completed this last night, but it’s been out nearly 10 years so it definitely counts.
According to the saved game file, it took me a grand total of 10 hours and 5 minutes to complete the game (on the easiest difficulty), however, it’s taken me nearly 2 years to play through those 10 hours. I’d like to say it took me so long because I have a family and a full time job and lots of other hobbies, but really it took me so long because it scared the living s**t out of me. I needed extended recovery periods after playing the game for a couple of hours. But, if you have a whole spare day of doing nothing, then you could easily run this through in one sitting. I’ve been informed that it’s impossible to get all the achievements in your first sitting though, which made me feel a lot better.
I love games that let me shoot aliens, or alien-type things. I also love horror games. So I super loved Dead Space. However, I didn’t love the amount of time I spent trying to recover from the mad state of anxiety this game left me in. I have a tendency to let myself get fully immersed in things, games, books, films, TV, I let it completely take over my entire consciousness, and then have to remind myself it’s not real. So while I was playing Dead Space I managed to put myself completely in Isaac Clarke’s head. During the sections without oxygen I found it hard to breathe, throughout most of the game I felt claustrophobic. Every time I had to open a door it was an edge-of-my-seat experience – oh god what’s going to try and eat me alive this time? The whispering in sections of the game really didn’t help. In fact the whispering set me really on edge. It’s a tense affair all round really. It’s also very easy to get immersed in. It wants you to feel claustrophobic and like a necromorph (the creepy alien zombie things) could jump out of anywhere and kill you at any time. The whispering is there to really screw with your head. The time limits you have to contend against when you’re out in space with no oxygen, well, for me that was just plain awful, but it wants you to be sitting on the edge of your seat pushing that analag stick as hard as it will go, so you don’t suffocate and die. Having died pretty much every single way you can die in that game though, I think the suffocation is probably the least brutal.
One of the things that I think is really great about this game is that there is no quick turnaround command, so the claustrophobia is even more heightened, especially in the last few chapters when you’re being chased by faster enemies, from every direction. And you can’t kill them by shooting them in the face or the chest either. You have to shoot of their arms and legs. There’s even necromorphs that just regrow their limbs and refuse to die. The game sucks you in and chews you up – for poor Isaac that can even be a literal chewing up. I somehow made it through the whole game without changing my gun (you get an achievement for doing that), and I didn’t really use any upgrades until I got to the last two chapters, mostly because I was too busy being terrified to be looking for power nodes. I didn’t upgrade my suit either so I feel like actually getting through the whole game is quite impressive – especially considering I suffer with some mild gamer rage, and if I can’t do something I just put the game away never to be played again. I was incredibly grateful for all the stores dotted around the place so that I could constantly buy more ammo and health packs. The ending has made me desperate to play Dead Space 2, because I’m only 7 years too late to that party, but I’m a very casual gamer, and I like to be able to jump between games, so I guess it’ll take me about 4 years to get through it!
I would definitely rate Dead Space somewhere in my top 5 games, and I do think it’s a game I will replay many times over. The only thing that really, really irks me about the game is that if I decide to play again on a harder difficulty, I have to start a new game. Which means that the nice upgrades I added to my gun towards the end of the game, as well as the credits and power nodes I was awarded for completion, will be completely useless. Maybe I’ll just continuously replay the easy mode.