EA finally announced the long-rumored Dead Space remake at its EA Play Live 2021 showcase on July 22, revealing the return of the sci-fi horror classic with an atmospheric (but brief) teaser trailer.
This revival will completely rebuild the first Dead Space from the ground up. Based on the original game, the Dead Space remake will harness both the power of the latest Frostbite game engine and the new console generation to deliver “stunning visual fidelity” and gameplay improvements.
It’s an exciting prospect, and I can’t wait to see what developer EA Motive has in store, for example. After all, it’s the perfect time for a Dead Space remake.
Greater immersion in horror
Game development technology has come a long way since the first Dead Space game was released in 2008. The sci-fi horror classic still holds up, I can attest to jumping into the series for the first time last year, but it no doubt suffers from feeling somewhat outdated with its occasionally clunky controls and janky creatures.
With the Dead Space remake coming only on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC, EA Motive has the ability to not only address these old issues, but create a more immersive experience than the original. game could ever have offered – and modern technology is key.
The cornerstone of Dead Space’s fear factor is the atmosphere. The corridors of the USG Ishimura are often dingy and claustrophobic, with Necromorphs lurking in shadowy crevices, ready to leap out of the inky darkness. But imagine if EA Motive chooses to use volumetric light or ray tracing, add depth to these shaded hallways and use the lighting to make the sense of space smaller than before – more cramped – making you feel more vulnerable. The idea of it both fills me with fear and anticipation.
This becomes an even more terrifying prospect when I think of the prospect of higher-resolution Necromorphs, upgrading the near-mutant-like adversaries of the original Dead Space into more visually realistic nightmare fuel. Finally, the latest Frostbite engine allows EA to create the most realistic faces yet. Imagine the dead-eyed Lurker cornering you with its muscular, skinless tentacles.
But visuals are only part of a brilliant modern horror experience. The latest console hardware has opened up the possibilities for an element even stronger than that: audio. Both the Xbox Series X and PS5 have their own spatial audio support, if a developer chooses to use it – and when it comes to a horror game, it would be ridiculous not to. Spatial audio in a horror game can be a really immersive feature and, if used correctly, can prey on your heightened awareness to keep you in a constant state of unease. The fear lies in what the audio suggests you might see, rather than what lies ahead
Resident Evil Village made brilliant use of PS5 audio support, especially in the Beneviento series, giving players a plethora of unidentifiable sounds that added unpredictability to the atmosphere and – at times – distracted them from what was really to come. .
I hope the Dead Space remake does something similar, allowing players to hear every moan and creak of the USG Ishimura’s dying frame, and the hurried run of the swarm as they chase you down a hallway. On second thought, maybe don’t make Dead Space more immersive, please…
A smoother experience
While I’m (reluctantly) hoping EA Motive will harness the power of the latest console hardware to increase overall immersion, I’m also hoping for some overall gameplay improvements.
At times, navigating Dead Space’s weapons wheel and controls can be clunky and strangely mapped, making it difficult to quickly jump between weapons while in the middle of a fight. I expect smoother gameplay mechanics to be at the top of EA Motive’s to-do list, bringing Dead Space’s overall playability to a modern standard that prevents a dip when trying to switch your Plasma Cutter to your Pulse Rifle.
But while the possibility of an updated weapon wheel system remains to be seen, we know that the performance of the Dead Space remake will of course benefit from the super-fast SSDs built into both the PS5 and Xbox Series X, allowing for significantly faster load times. – which is especially helpful when using the shuttle to travel between areas of the Ishimura.
According to the game’s creative director, Roman Campos-Oriola, the aim is to create a completely seamless game – one that never takes you out of the experience and can be played without interruptions. That was something that wasn’t possible on consoles before the Xbox Series X and PS5, and it could play a key role in keeping you in the action from start to finish.
A repulsive renaissance
The Dead Space revival seems to be taking a leaf from Capcom’s book, which has had significant success in recent years recreating both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. Capcom has shown that bringing a veteran franchise to life works with modern technology and it has ensured that the Resident Evil series remains a mammoth in the game world. Capcom’s success has even sparked hopes for a Silent Hill reboot in a similar vein.
EA Motive is getting a similar opportunity, but the leap in technology from the last generation to this generation has created an incredibly fertile ground for a truly immersive, modern-day horror experience – that wouldn’t have been possible before. It’s the confluence of new technology, better gameplay mechanics, and a renewed interest in the horror genre that could really take the Dead Space remake to a new level with a new generation of gamers.
Let’s hope the Dead Space remake lives up to expectations.