A different species of survival horror.
In 2414, humans have used up all the resources that Earth has to offer. High class "Planet cracker" ships have been created for the purpose of mining resources out of (mostly) uninhabitable planets, the company is called C.E.C.. A distress signal is recieved from the Planet Cracker "Ishimura", and the C.E.C sends 5 employees. One of the employees is a highly skilled engineer, the player character; Isaac Clarke.
They crash-land into the Ishimura, hoping someone on the ship can help repair their now busted shuttle. Soon after going in, they are attacked by unkown monsters (presumably the ships crew) and the fight to get off the ship and survive begins.
Now, this game has a lot of horror story cliches, and by "a lot," I mean it. But the difference is that this game pulls off every single one of those cliches excellently. It portrays the cult styled religion perfectly, how the virus works is explained, but there are enough mysteries to keep you second guessing, the mental anguish the characters suffer is very believable, etc. Even the ending is cliched, but I promise you won't see it coming.
There is also a lot of backstory in the game, explained in logs obtained thruought the game. A comic series (6 issues) was released before the game, explaining the events that lead up to the Ishimura going to hell. And a movie that covers the events of the Ishimura as it is going to hell. A viral website also exists that has story bits that take place in the Dead Space universe.
It's just so well written, you can't not love it. Oh, and there are a lot of in-game subliminal messages to find. They all pertain to the game tho, no "hail satan."
The main gameplay of this game is epic.
Movement is very fluid. You can walk or run in any direction, you can even run backwards. Aside from running, you also have the same movement options while you are aiming your gun.
Which leads to combat. This isn't your typical zombie outbreak, shoot them in the head and they die sort of thing. To be honest, you can blast their heads off and there is a good chance they will keep coming anyways. Enough ammo to the head/chest will kill them, but it's an extreme waste of ammo. To kill them quickly and efficiently, you need to dismember them. You can also melee them, punch them several times in the face, or stomp them while they're on the ground.
But the weaponry will be your main tool of dismemberment. And by tool, I mean that literally, all but one of the weapons you get are "engineer tools." Plasma cutter, contact beam, and the ripper are good examples. The ripper itself fires a circular saw blade a yard and a half in front of you, holding it in place wherever you are aiming for a brief time. One problem tho, is that if you carry more than 1 gun (up to 4) then you get equally the same amount of ammo drops for each weapon in your inventory. So if you use one weapon 90% of the time, you'll end up having massive overstock for the weapons you rarely use, and lacking ammo for the weapon you prefer. Swapping between weapons is as easy as a button press tho.
Other than weapons, you also get two suit upgrades early in the game, required for solving puzzles, but also good in combat.
The stasis module allows you to slow down fast objects/enemies, and the kinesis module lets you move/fling objects.
There is an in-game shop to buy/sell several things, ammo, medpacks, new suits/weapons, etc. The shop only starts out with a few items, and you find schematics so that it can offer new things. Another area similar to the store, is called the "bench." Hear, you use power nodes collected/bought in the game to upgrade your suit and your weapons. Some weapons start out horribly weak, which is especially noticeable in later chapters. But once they are upgraded, you will really love their usefulness. Also, when you fully upgrade a weapon the firing animation changes, I'm pretty sure it's just cosmetic tho.
Several types of enemies will attack you thruought the game, each one taking a completely different type of strategy to kill. Of course, dismemberment is always the best way to kill anything, but not every enemy has the same limbs. With all the enemies also comes several different ways to die in this game, some are quite gruesome. One enemy, a severed head moving around on tiny tentacles, will kill you by decapitation. After your head is gone, it will shove it's tentacles down your throat and walk off with your body, acting as your new head.
All of the gruesome detail in this game adds to the extreme amount of detail put into the game's graphics. This is the most beautiful game I have ever played (in a sick, twisted way). The gore is highly realistic, along with the lighting, texture detail, etc. The only thing I found wrong with the graphics is that mirrors don't reflect, for some odd reason.
Another amazing thing with the graphics, is that there is no HUD. All of the menus and such come from your suit, visible as you play the game.
Your health is represented by lights going down your spine, ammo count is portrayed as a hologram behind the weapon, and inventory/map/etc. menus pop up as a hologram coming from your suit. This is not only visually impressive, but it also adds to the horror atmosphere, you can't just hide in your inventory menu until your ready again to face the monsters One problem is, if you don't have a decent sized HDTV (no SD) you're going to have problems reading the text in the menus. This is extremely painful when you're trying to read the story logs you've found.
As I said, the main gameplay is epic, with maybe a few minor problems here or there. Oh, and there's a really shitty cannon part, not really any good way to describe it other than "it's shitty." It's a small part tho, and doesn't affect the rest of the gameplay.
This game was made for surround sound.
Voice acting is superb, and the emotions the actors give to the voices fit what the characters are going thru.
The atmospheric sounds keep the horror feel of the game going, you'll often hear enemies scurrying thru the vents, even if there aren't any attacking you at the moment. You'll hear whispering, singing, screaming, any kind of horrific sound you can imagine. On a constant basis too.
There are some areas with really loud noises going on, ship engines, asteroids bashing the ships exterior, a monster roaring, and more. But there are areas where you enter a "vacuum," and you hear next to nothing. The silence is really eery. Most of the time, when Isaac sees an enemy, scary battle music will play. It doesn't play, however, when one is sneaking up behind you and you don't know it's there, back attacks happen often.
It's really hard to explain the amount of work they put into the sound. I can't just go into detail about every little sound made, there are so many, and done so well.
Basically, it will horrify you.
I already said this was the most beautiful game I have ever played, and the best sound work put into a game.
But this is also the scariest, most intense game I have ever played, and I've played 90% of existing "horror" games out there.
While the game has a few flaws, they pale in comparison to the things that make the game great. It is a must buy, hands down.
Edited by The Colonel, 06 August 2009 - 10:40 PM.