The original Dead Space introduced us to Isaac Clark and the necromorphs, it also reintroduced us to our night lights. Dead Space 2 expanded the narrative and slowly integrated more action to broaden the appeal of the game to people who aren’t particularly fond of peeing themselves. Dead Space 3 delivers the same satisfying experience we saw in Dead Space 2 but also gives us an entertaining co-op and weapon crafting system to top it all off.
The story takes center stage here. While Dead Space 2 had a strong narrative it relied on is gameplay more than its story telling elements, that’s not a bad thing, but Dead Space 3 follows up great gameplay, with a progressive narrative.
Isaac Clark has been living in seclusion after the events of Dead Space 2. He and Ellie have split up and it’s left Isaac feeling a little sorry for himself. He can’t let go of what happened in the previous games and its caused him to push people away and give up hope…but hey, that’s about to change. A rag tag group of EarthGov’s last surviving battalion is recruiting Isaac to help find Ellie, who’s gone missing. As you may know, this is just the first stepping-stone into you eventually getting involved in some marker shenanigans.
The game has somewhat lost its scariness but this is no fault to the developers. They deliver the creepy hallways, flickering lights, and ominous moans and groans in the distance to help build the tension that we’ve all come to love and loathe. The fact of the matter is, as fans of the series, we know what to expect from the game. However, that doesn’t stop Dead Space 3 from delivering some satisfying tension, but as far as jumping out of your seat, I only encountered a few moments where I involuntarily uttered a few curse words.
While I really enjoyed the story that doesn’t mean it was perfect. Certain earlier sections of the game were poorly paced. You’d be placed in an interesting situation and then you’d go through a couple rooms and you were out and onto something new. But probably the most disappointing thing to come out of the story is that we don’t every truly get to understand or see Isaac develop as a character. We get the occasional hint that he’s suffering from survivor’s guilt but nothing much beyond that.
This game has some enhanced graphics and is a step up from previous games. The one thing I love about this game is how comfortable the controls feel. It’s a direct copy of the Dead Space 2 control schemes with a few extras like crouch and dodge thrown in.
You’ll utilize your kinesis a lot more, but it’s mainly used to open doors or pump up generators. While this may seem pointless, it’s still nice to know that the developers are looking for you to wholly rely on the tools you have at hand. A nice addition to the gameplay, which was rather unprecedented, is the new puzzle element. These mainly come up when you need to open doors to some key areas of the game or turn on some machines that help move the plot forward.
This game, more-so than Dead Space 2, actually felt like you were doing something. During Dead Space 2 I often found myself going from point A to point B without any real indication as to why, other than because some girl on the comm system told me to. In Dead Space 3 you actually feel as if you are accomplishing something when you arrive upon your destination.
This is all well and fun, but there is an awful lot of backtracking in the game. Sometimes backtracking leads you to optional missions and extra loot but, most of the time, it leads you to finding three of this or turning on all these different machines. It gets a little tiresome after a while. Some of the optional missions you find can be pretty entertaining, but others can be very dull. And don’t expect these side missions to be a quick run in, shoot and collect gear. Some of them can take as long as 20 minutes to complete.
While the game isn’t exactly terrifying it does capitalize on close quarters assault. Necromorphs come at you in groups and more than a few times I found myself backed into a corner throwing punches just to get some breathing room. In this sense, the game was getting my heart rate up. And these new and old necromorphs aren’t afraid to prove to you how fast they are. They’ll all come at you as quickly as possible so you better be good at thinking on your toes.
Weapon crafting is a breath of fresh air and requires a bit of a learning curve. All the weapons when starting out are dumbed down. Sure, they fire and reload, but they’re weak and slow. It’s up to you to find resources and build bigger and better guns. It’s not that easy though, because you have to balance how you use your resources, because you’ll get through a good chunk of the game before you can actually start building some good equipment. I progressed six hours into the campaign before I had enough supplies to build what I wanted, but once I used the resources I had nothing left over, so I had to build up my stock all over again.
To help in your quest for parts, the game allows you to use scavenge bots. You’ll scout out areas rich in resources using a sonar system and deploy the bot. Following the trail to the ideal location to drop the bot off can leave you in the middle of nowhere with a lot of necromorphs around you, but you’ll get the biggest turn around when the bot deposits its load. However, if you just drop the bot wherever so you don’t have to deal with more necromorphs, then it won’t find much for you to use.
Not only will you craft weapons but you’ll craft ammo, med packs, stasis modules and you’ll upgrade your rig. So it’s truly up to you how you utilize the parts you’ve scavenged. Do you want a strong rig and weak weapons or do you want to rely on fire power to protect the weak suit you inhabit?
This is where New Game Plus reigns supreme. The game is more satisfying the second time around when you can bring back all your gear and guns and continue upgrading your arsenal.
Co-op was one aspect of the game that truly blew me away. Even if you’ve played the single player campaign already, it doesn’t matter; the co-op campaign feels like an entirely different game. The story has added content, mainly delving into the relationship between Isaac and Carver and Carver’s back-story. There are new side missions to tackle and the puzzles you tackled in the single player mode now demand the two people to accomplish. While it all seems like pretty simple additions, it completely changes the feel of the game.
In co-op, the game throws more enemies at you and it’s much easier to tackle the harder difficulties with a partner. You’ll find yourself genuinely watching your partners back and helping them out of a tough situation. Often times the game demands this kind of team work, when one player is tasked to hacking open a door while the other fends off an army of necromorphs.
The gameplay is more satisfying than in single player and the relationship being developed between Carver and Isaac is fun to watch, especially when Carver is suffering from the hallucinations brought on by the marker. Play the single player, and then play the co-op as Carver; it feels like a whole new game.
Dead Space 3 is crazy fun and there is an absolute ton of replay value. New Game Plus will keep you working on creating the most badass Isaac possible and Co-op will entertain you and a friend for hours on end. Despite what the game does right, it does a few things wrong as well. There are some pacing issues and backtracking, while it makes sense in the game, can get tedious after a while.
The truth is, there is a lot to talk about in this game. Visceral Games took some huge risks when making this game. If there was something I didn’t cover that you’d like to learn more about, please sound off in the comment section.