EA’s Dead Space 3 demo was a disgusting misrepresentation of Dead Space 3 as a whole. In the demo, the jump scares and atmosphere felt synthetic. EA marketed Dead Space 3 towards the wrong audience. Many, including myself almost skipped this iteration because of EA’s awful advertising. Despite this, Dead Space 3 is still an incredible horror title with a healthy dose of action on the side.
Dead Space 3 takes place three years after the horrendous events of Dead Space 2. Isaac is on vacation after psychologically killing off his dead girlfriend Nicole Brennan, massacring thousands of necromorphs and destroying a marker that he created with the power of his mind. While having a mental tantrum in his apartment, Isaac is interrupted by EarthGov Sergeant John Carver and is forced to go on a mission to save his ex girlfriend Ellie Langford. The story in Dead Space 3 did what it was supposed to do; it closed off the series and answered any unanswered questions.
After being exposed to so much death and violence in the previous two titles, Isaac has become a fearless and compassionate killer. He’s an experienced veteran who puts his fear behind him when he is placed in hardcore situations against multiple foes. Being pinned up against the wall may be normal for Isaac, but for the player it is scary and gruesome.
In the original Dead Space, the horror based itself on multiple jump scares and endless tension. In Dead Space 3, the jump scares have been replaced with swarms of enemies. The sheer amount of enemies that Isaac has to take down is death defying and jaw dropping. For example, the player will be taking down three necromorphs in the front, five more ghouls will emerge from behind and attack the player from the back. Sometimes, the player will hear the creatures creeping around and will not be able to find the originating source of the sound. This alone will drive the player into a deep paranoia.
The sound is the best part. Some enemies will slither around while others will scream in a high-pitched moan. All of Isaac’s utilities still have that classic, punchy, plasma-like sound to them. The newest sound effect to enter the fray is the noise that the weapons bench makes when it accepts Isaac’s weapons. It sounds like gears are simultaneously crunching, popping and then finally clamping onto Isaac’s weapon. It is pretty awesome.
With a bad-to-the bone weapons bench comes great responsibility. Seeing as the original node system no longer exists, the player will have to scavenge elements such as tungsten, semiconductor, scrap metal, somatic gel, tranducer and ration seals from within the level to upgrade his or her weapons and suit. To further improve the weapons, the player will have to upgrade his or her weapons with circuit chips, which are unlocked via the elements. This system can feel a little overbearing at first but the player will get used to it after a short period of time. The node system would have been preferred.
If the player does not feel like hunting for parts, he or she can implement cute little robots called scavenger bots to do the work for him or her. The robots take around ten real-world minutes to find parts and then the tiny suckers will find their way back to a weapons bench so the player can upgrade his or her weapons.
Just like in Dead Space 2, the core of Dead Space 3 is composed of straight-up, in-your-face action. Necromorphs will come at the player in vast numbers and unitologists will attack as well. The cover-to-cover gunfights act as water-cooler moments that break up the never-ending tension. What is awesome about the action sequences is that every encounter has a feeling of intense fluidity. Limbs are flying off left and right as human enemies scream in pain. Again, the action sequences are not necessary but they are extremely fun.
Speaking of intensity, the space levels in Dead Space 3 are the best in the franchise. Being in a zero gravity environment while surrounded by shrapnel is incredibly scary and relaxing at the same time. The muffled sound that Isaac makes while he is moving around is soothing. Being attacked by multiple enemies at once is as frightening as ever and the space-like atmosphere is flat-out gorgeous. The aesthetic nature of gently floating over a fluorescent planet is calming.
Another cool feature that Visceral added is the side missions. These missions are extremely useful for those who are looking for a challenge, want more playtime and need extra supplies. The side missions are cool and they provide extra story details, but they could have been so much more than your ordinary fetch quests.
Last but not least, EA decided that Dead Space 3 had to include a multiplayer mode. The multiplayer mode feels forced and tacked on. All of the missions are from the main campaign. Any of the tension that the player experiences while playing the single-player campaign is now non-existent because four other players are now tagging along. It is fun to kill necromorphs online with friends but it is not scary.
Dead Space 3 is a fantastic horror title with an even slice of hard-core action. For the first time in a long time, this particular series ended the way I wanted it to: with a bang. Now that the series is over, I can’t wait to see what series Visceral Games conquers next.