After shutting down Visceral Studios, the team responsible for the original experience, EA has released a remake of the classic cult horror Dead Space. The Dead Space remake has a few similarities in style and tone to another horror released recently, The Callisto Protocol. However, where The Callisto Protocol failed miserably as a game, the Dead Space remake has once again proven what gamers have known to be true since 2008 – Dead Space is the way to make a horror game that works.
This article will explore the triumphs and story of the new Dead Space remake, compared to the abundant shortcomings of The Callisto Protocol. We’ll try to determine what is wrong with the latter, and why the former represents the perfect formula for this genre of gaming.
Dead Space just works
Dead Space (2023) is a visually enhanced version of the original game from 2008. It’s designed for next-generation consoles and PC and features improved graphics, from the tentacles on the spaceship to the details on Isaac Clarke’s suit. However, the remake also deviates slightly from the 2011 sequel with new details.
This updated version is not a complete reimagining like Resident Evil 2 or Final Fantasy VII Remake, nor is it a user-friendly makeover of a classic game like the System Shock remake. It’s simply a strong update to a great game, released at an opportune time.
The Dead Space franchise is a third-person shooter series that is defined by its unique twist on the typical zombie gameplay. Instead of simply shooting the grotesque creatures known as necromorphs in the head, players must strategically sever their limbs in order to defeat them. The game combines horror elements with a combat system that feels like gruesome surgery and features weapons based on power tools, telekinetic powers, and a time-slowing ability called stasis.
The Dead Space remake, like the original game, is set on a mining spaceship called the USG Ishimura, which has gone silent after a mission to a distant planet. Engineer Isaac Clarke boards the ship to repair it and locate his missing girlfriend, Dr. Nicole Brennan.
Instead, Isaac and his team are met with challenges, including a necromorph outbreak, a sabotage operation and their own deteriorating mental states. Isaac discovers that the outbreak was caused by an alien artifact brought on board the ship and that a religious cult, the Church of Unitology, may be involved in spreading it.
The Dead Space remake offers the best gaming experience the franchise has ever had. Motive has taken the best elements of the first and second games and combined them to create a polished and improved version. The game also includes a few changes to some of the less enjoyable encounters, making them feel more engaging and less repetitive.
The game maintains the methodical pace of the original while incorporating suspenseful elements, such as sudden blackouts and enemy jump scares, without relying on heavily scripted sequences or quick time events. Dead Space is a horror game that players can enjoy mastering, rather than simply being a passive participant within.
The Callisto Protocol is filled with alien-zombie-like creatures too. But the experience falls flat on too many levels to be considered a compelling example of the gory and gritty horror genre.
Why The Callisto Protocol fails
Upon its release, the game had performance issues on PC, which were resolved quickly with a patch. However, the console versions also experienced frame rate issues and crashes, but developers have announced that further improvements are in the works. The Xbox Series X version was praised for its beautiful ray-traced shadows, but the ray-traced reflections were not as impressive. The developers are working to improve this aspect of the game and more information will be released soon.
The Dead Space remake has received mixed reviews, with some praising its graphics and sound design while others have criticized the game’s performance issues on certain platforms. Despite these issues, the game has also received praise for its death animations and overall presentation when running smoothly.
Additionally, it has been noted that the PS5 version of the game runs well, likely due to the involvement of 150 people from PlayStation Malaysia and PlayStation Visual Arts Studio Group. It is speculated that there may be a partnership between Sony and the game’s developer, Striking Distance.
The design of the game’s environment receives a lot of praise, but many players find that the levels are too straightforward and feel like a series of corridors leading to the next objective. The objectives themselves are often simple and involve going from one point to another, finding and replacing fuses, and opening cases for health items.
While the concept of a sci-fi prison overrun by mutated creatures sounds exciting, the story itself is not particularly noteworthy. The majority of the more intriguing plot points are revealed in the latter half of the game, and the final encounter with a mutated version of Leon Ferris is underwhelming and occurs just minutes before the end of the game.
We hyped this game up quite a bit last year. I remember writing numerous articles about what we expected the game to be like, and what the trailer suggested it would be like. But all of those articles feel like a lie now that we’ve experienced the game first-hand. There’s no getting away from the fact that the developer, publisher, and everyone involved in the various teams was under a lot of pressure, something the team has commented on openly.
You can almost feel the conflict and how it’s resulted in a game that feels doesn’t feel finished, yet drags on as you make your way from one corridor to the next. With the modern standard of gaming being what it is, this simply doesn’t feel acceptable.
Hopefully, there’s a significant update in the game’s future somewhere or at least a remake planned that will fix all of the glaring performance and gameplay issues. For now, though, The Callisto Protocol, a great concept executed poorly, stands as an example of what happens when a team is not operating cohesively.
By comparison, the Dead Space remake is everything great about the gaming industry, and the horror genre rolled into one gory gritty package. The game packs a massive punch. The only punch The Callisto Protocol packs is delivered to your device hardware in the form of painful lag and tragic crashes.