Dead Space is a new look from EA. While the company is known mostly for its sports titles, movie tie-ins and other family friendly offerings, Dead Space is a survival horror game that embraces its M-rating.
The game places you in the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer who is sent to a city-sized spaceship, the USG Ishimura, to investigate the lack of communications coming from the ship. On arrival, you notice that the ship is little more than a floating coffin and is now serving as a breeding ground for an alien species called the Necromorphs.
One of the aims of Dead Space is to create an atmosphere of constant terror and dread. Rather than using cutscenes, the story will be presented through the use of radio transmissions and text messages displayed using a real-time, holographic image projected by Isaac’s suit. This display will also act as Isaac’s inventory screen. Although you can pause the game, the menu is displayed in real-time (to the point where you can even shift the camera around it, slightly distorting the image), removing the ability to jump into the inventory screen for a quick respite.
In order to further push the creep factor and really draw players into the experience, Dead Space is HUD-less. Isaac’s health and stasis levels are both displayed as meters on the back of his suit. This allows for the game’s visual effects to take even more prominence. Every corridor of the dead, hulking ship is dimly lit and teeming with the possibility of an enemy jumping from a dark corner and grabbing you.
Most of Isaac’s weapons are converted mining tools and will give combat a raw, brutal edge. Combat relies on what is being referred to as “strategic dismemberment”. The enemies that have infested the ship will not go down easily, forcing you to think about how to approach each encounter. Whereas removing the head is usually enough in Resident Evil, doing so in Dead Space will send the decapitated enemy into a wild, frenzied panic, making it even more dangerous. Some enemies will even be able to re-grow body parts, making timely dismemberment even more important.
In addition to an arsenal of re-purposed mining tools, Isaac can also use a stasis ability that is directly fired at enemies. Once hit, enemies will display a blue tint and slow down; hopefully long enough that you can remove one or two limbs before it gets a chance to strike back. Stasis will also play a role in some of the game’s puzzle-solving areas.
Xbox 360, PS3 and PC owners will see if screams really can't be heard in space on October 21.