REVIEW: Dead Space 2023

Last Updated on February 9, 2023

Dead Space (2023) is a remake of the classic 2008 video game. It is a welcome revival of a franchise that briefly was on top of the world with animated movies, comics, and multiple sequels before crashing into a spectacular inferno with the incredibly ill-received Dead Space 3. The premise is simple: in the far future, humanity discovers a series of dark mystical artifacts called Markers that drive people insane before transforming them into horrible zombie-like monsters.

Dead SpaceDead Space is something of a victim of its own success as the premise is excellent but somewhat limited. The mystery of the Markers, Unitology, and the forces behind them both were intriguing but the games never really added behind them. Familiarity breeds contempt and the universe started to feel limited as well as static rather than constantly growing. Resident Evil and Silent Hills were always growing, while Dead Space didn’t. Oh and the fact the third game was an action multiplayer game in a series about survival hero.

Despite this, I was really excited about the remake as the original game was easily the best of them. As a huge fan of sci-fi horror, like Alien: Isolation, I’ve always been of the mind that we could use more of it in gaming. It’s also good to continually reintroduce the best games to new console generations so that future gamers can appreciate what was fantastic. It’s why I absolutely loved the Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 remakes.

While I’ve already shared the premise of the games, the plot is a bit more specific and interesting in both this version as well as the remake. Isaac Clarke is a technician who is sent to the USG Ishimura that has lost all contact with the outside universe despite just being a mining ship. Heading with a couple of soldiers, Isaac has the mission to repair it and see to helping any survivors. Isaac has a personal motivation as well with his ex-girlfriend, Nicole, being one of the people onboard the Ishimura.

The gameplay is the biggest change this time around as it more resembles Dead Space 2’s more actionized but still scary version. You can go back to the original controls if you want but I much preferred the more streamlined and enjoyable version. The name of the game in the remake is tweaking rather than generally modifying. Virtually the entirety of the original game is present with a bunch of additions rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. There’s no “empty” nodes in leveling up either.

Genuine improvements to gameplay would include the fact the Zero G system of the game is no longer bare bones. In the areas where Isaac can move around without gravity, you are no longer restricted to a preset path but can move around at will. They’ve also removed the incredibly poor turrett section and replaced it with one that has auto-turrets that Isaac must repair. Those turrets more or less destroyed me the last time I played the game so that’s a massive improvement.

Perhaps the biggest change is the fact that the Ishimura is one gigantic open world map now rather than something you are only able to explore once. A bit like the Spencer Mansion or the Racoon City Police Department, they provide you the opportunity to go around at your leisure. There’s also the addition of sidequests that were absolutely terrible ideas in Dead Space 3 but work surprisingly well here. There’s more interactivity as well with the previously unopenable red light boxes being available to loot this time around.

Dead Space

The plot is about 90% the same this time around and that’s a good thing even if I went in knowing the big “twist” that was such a shocker in 2008. I also appreciated the larger role for Nicole in this game as she’s a character that was somewhat of a Macguffin the first time around but is a fully realized entity this time. Because she and Isaac are played by their original voice actors, we also have the change to their characters that they’re a pair of middle aged lovers rather than twenty somethings.

Lore-wise, we actually get more nods toward Dead Space 3 and the revelations there. At least some of the Unitologists aren’t complete morons this time around and are full-on Call of Cthulhu cultists who want to bring about the end of reality for their dark masters. Given the games have always been heavily HP Lovecraft inspired, I’m not against this and hope this is a sign we’re going to eventually get a Dead Space 4.

In conclusion, I think this is a solid and impressive remake. I am a huge fan of HP Lovecraft cosmic horror but like when people take the themes and expand on them in a way that, well a 1920s oddball couldn’t, like done here. I have high hopes for the continuation of the Dead Space series and think fans of both the old game as well as ones who never gave it a shot will enjoy this too.

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CT Phipps

CT Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He's the author of Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, Straight Outta Fangton, and The Supervillainy Saga. He is also a frequent contributor to Grimdark Magazine.