Dead Space Review – Very Much Alive

Dead Space (2008) was the game that briefly made me see Electronic Arts in a different light. The company that acquired then killed some of my favorite gaming studios, including but not limited to Bullfrog, Westwood, and Origin Systems, published the spaceship horror I was longing for since System Shock 2. Dead Space was a masterpiece. It had that specific brand of fright only possible when metal and mutations are mixed in equal measure. There was drama, dread, dismembering, and a dreamlike notion that true horror lies in losing one’s mind.

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It was everything I could possibly want from a sci-fi survival horror title. Sequels tried but failed to recapture the magic of the original. Dead Space 2 was mostly OK, but DS3 was horrible enough to effectively kill the franchise. A mandatory decade passed before someone important decided to remake and reap the fresh profit out of the incredible part one.

Total Conversion

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Dead Space (2023) is a complete remake/reinvention in the vein of Resident Evil 2 (2019). Isaac Clarke, silent in 2008, got a voice to match the talking Isaac from the sequels, featuring Gunner Wright, the original actor. The script was rewritten to utilize a speaking protagonist, adding much more character to the supporting cast as well. Broadening everyone’s role necessitated expanding and remodeling some key sections of the game, adding freedom to backtrack. Remake also introduced zones with different security requirements. You will gradually acquire higher security clearance, facilitating a return to previously explored sections and exploring some more.

Zero gravity sections, a dull fixed-jump affair in the original, were brought to DS2 and DS3 standards, enabling Isaac to fly and fight in open sections of USG Ishimura and outside of it. Both Leviathan fights on the ship are much better because of Isaac’s newfound 3D freedom, and the same goes for the asteroid shooting level. The list of improvements doesn’t stop there. Dead Space remake introduces the secondary quests that widen the main narrative, shining some extra light on apocalyptic events that transpired onboard the aged planet cracker.

Layered Necromorphs and Other Upgrades

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The expanded story never messes with the core concepts of the original, but it enriches the narrative in a few important areas. The church of Unitology’s role in the conspiracy that unleashed the power of the Marker on the Aegis VII colony and later, on Ishimura’s crew, was clarified and broadened, eliminating some plot holes. Characters of Kendra Daniels and Zach Hammond, survivors from Kellion, were greatly expanded. They were given extra lines and proper motivations and thus stopped being placeholders. Isaac’s history with his estranged girlfriend Nicole, the chief medical officer on board Ishimura, is more nuanced this time around. In one important section, we learned about the main point of friction in their relationship, which added an important, personal layer to the Unitology plotline.

Greatly aiding the atmosphere of dread in this superb remake are the brand-new visuals. The entire game was remodeled from the ground up in the latest iteration of the Frostbite engine. The metal halls of USG Ishimura got an incredible makeover, creating one of the most believable industrial settings in any Sci-Fi game to date. It’s on the next level compared to the beautiful but otherwise underwhelming Callisto Protocol. Necromorph models also received a package of upgrades. Most mutants are now layered, which means that you can peel off some skins and tissue from them. Firing the plasma cutter into their limbs, for example, will now expose the meat and bones before landing the shot that severs them. It’s almost poetically gross. An original musical score by Jason Graves is also there, and a few new elements and cues are composed by Trevor Gureckis.

Old Tools, New Moves

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The final layer of improvements is related to combat. Isaac’s arsenal is refined and modified in a more utilitarian way, eliminating some inconsistencies and doozies from the original. Force gun, for example, now works like a powerful shotgun, with the incredibly gross, skin-peeling effect on Necromorphs. Pulse rifle’s secondary fire mode now deploys proximity grenades, very useful when facing a swarm of foes, and so on. The good old Ripper still feels a bit overpowered, especially if you use it like a stationary buzzsaw instead of launching the discs. I was able to slice groups with an expanded Stasis+Ripper combo, breaking frozen mobs like icicles.

The only thing I disliked in the original was the indestructible Necromorph hunter. You could only temporarily slow it down by cutting off its legs, finally eliminating it in the predetermined part of the story. Hunter sequences sucked because the game compelled me to forego the exploring, stomping, and looting, forcing me to frantically look for an exit and flee. I hate to rush in survival horror games. The hunter section in the remake seems identical to the original, at least in the feeling that it invokes. Why not cut off its head during the first appearance and be done with it?

A Remake Done Right

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Dead Space sets a clear new benchmark for remaking classic AAA games. Compared to the still impressive original, it has improved visuals, pacing, environmental layout, weapons, and every other essential element. Both developer and publisher spared no expense in bringing the wonderful classic to the new hardware and fresh audience.

So, which version is the best? The PC version uses Denuvo, but apparently, it doesn’t have the usual set of problems associated with this DRM. I opted for the PlayStation 5, just to be on the safe side after the dual debacle of The Callisto Protocol and Forspoken. Speaking of the latter, disappointing faux-blockbuster, I’m glad we got the first genuine, high-profile winner of 2023. Every couple of decades or so, even EA deserves a hat-tip.



  • Improved story, side characters, and pacing. Isaac is no longer a Silent protagonist.
  • Spectacular visuals powered by the Frostbite engine.
  • Much improved zero-G sections.


  • Necromorph hunter is still annoying as hell.
Review platform: PS5
Developed by: Motive Studio
Published by: Electronic Arts
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Author Serge profile picture
Having games be part of his life since Commodore 64 it was only natural that Serge co-founded With every new game he travels from being the Noob to being Gosu. Whether he does coding or editorial work on the website he is still amazed by the fact that gaming is what he does for living.


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