Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dead Space: Kyle and Travis's Reflections

Ok, ok, the header image is from Dead Space 3. But like, the article is about co-op. You know what? It's from Cooptimus. There. I attributed it and now we're moving on. -Travis

Travis’ Take on Dead Space

I’m going to keep this simple and lean. Dead Space blew me away again, almost ten years after its release. Horror games are a lot like movies: they don’t tend to age well, unless they have that je ne sais quois of soul that many aspire to, but most fall short of. The game’s balance of horrific elements, utter isolation perforated by panicked phone calls, audio design (audioscape?) and the clunking, hefty gameplay was a constant supply of delight as I revisited the game.

I don’t recall appreciating just how careful the design of UI and industrial aesthetic were the last time around. But holy crap, the Ishimura not only seems real, it seems lived-in. In that way, Dead Space manages to a large extend what many open-world games set in cities fall flat on. Moreover, the common design language between menus, communications, weapons, and even Isaac’s heavy engineer’s suit all feel like they belong to a distinct future. Many games struggle to integrate their various components and ideas, but Dead Space is a case study of pulls it off with aplomb.

It was a genuine pleasure to revisit the ghoulish ghost ship and its gibbering hive-mind scythe-zombie crew. I can’t say this about all the books we read on this podcast...but I’m really looking forward to revisiting the Dead Space universe, and jawing about the sequel(s) with Kyle and Jenn.

Kyle’s View on Dead Space.

I am going to keep this short and sweet as well. I have nothing but positive things to say about the game itself. From the engrossing story, to the actual gameplay and mechanics, everything in this game is fantastic. I am not normally a horror fan. It has just never been my thing...but this game is the exception to that rule.

The atmosphere of the Ishimura makes the game creepy and interesting all at once. I can’t tell you how many times I was wandering through the ship and thought “I don’t want to go around this corner because I might die!...But at the same time I want to see what’s around this corner, and continue the story.” The game’s narrative is very compelling and I can’t wait to see how it continues in the sequel.

The mechanics makes the game engrossing, while trying its best not to pull you out of the story. The biggest gameplay mechanic that does this is the UI. It is one of the best ones I have seen in a game. Visceral Games did an amazing job working the UI into the game environment. Even the NPCs had the same UI, which is called a R.I.G. in-game, and that gave an awesome cohesion to the game. It made it feel like you were in a whole world, not just some guy in a suit that was vastly different than everyone in the world around him.

I do, however, have two gripes with the game, albeit small ones. There are a few ridiculous difficulty spikes that still frustrate me. I first played this on console and the asteroid mission was made very difficult, and deterred me from the completing the game. Second, the port to PC wasn’t the greatest. The controls had to be modified before the game could be played fluidly.

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