Dead Space, the art of remaking

Dead Space, the art of remaking

Dead Space

Can a remake be better than the original? Johnny Cash of American Recordings, the one of the acoustic covers of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails or Sting, would be enough to answer that yes, it is possible to redo something better than its inventor did. Provided, it goes without saying, that you know how to grasp the essence and dress it with your own sensitivity, with your own vision of the world. Provided you have the overflowing talent of Johnny Cash (and Rick Rubin , in the case of those records).

Approaching Cash to the Ea Motive team would be a far-fetched hypothesis, but to say that the new Dead Space signed by the Canadian software house (otherwise known as Motive Studio ) distills and enhances the beauty of the game which in 2008 became the paradigm of space survival horror, is, after having played both, a much more solid opinion.

Isaac Clarke is back. As in Dead Space 2 and 3 , he is dubbed by Gunner Wright (image: Motive Studio/EA)

Without panegyrics, his remake surpasses Dead Space . And why is easily explained, that it is then easy to put it into practice is quite another thing: Motive Studio must have loved and therefore explored the pearl of Glen Schofield and his (was) Visceral Games so much to find, in depth, the soul, the most distinctive features, the essential uniqueness. So, purifying it of anything that didn't work, he made the masterpiece more visible, away from the frills and certain woodiness of the time.

In doing so, even in the tracing, the new Dead Space is not the slavish copy of the original, perhaps with a few more visual prodigies, granted by the fifteen years of accumulated technological evolutions (and by the complete rewriting on the engine of Frostbite game). Far from it: Dead Space is first a work of subtraction, a reduction to the core, then of amplification. It is the concretization of the memory of Dead Space, that is, of the most beautiful memories of the original. Whether the memory corresponded to the truth or not, it doesn't matter. Today it exists, it's here and you can play it on any platform (PC, Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, from €59.99).

It's like a perfect couple relationship, in which every lover gets better in the encounter with the other. Or, don't blame the fans, it's the opposite concept to the gargantuan reproduction of Final Fantasy VII, which in every aspect multiplies, of the known, everything. That is, together, the good and the bad.

No, there is little bad in the new Dead Space, nothing that works badly (except for some awkward shots in the fights), nothing superfluous: there are the best of 2008 and a ton of things added to enhance it, attention, not only the spectacularity (for this, turn, ready to be disappointed, to the sequels of the saga), above all the idea that from 2008 piled up sales (about ten million copies in everything), proselytes and followers everywhere. Doing school.

Back to the future

For the uninitiated, it is enough to know that at its release Dead Space brought into a video game what Alien had managed to bring into cinemas, becoming, de facto , the declination in pixels: the claustrophobic sensation of a threat in an isolated place. A visceral danger – literally, even born of a man – and impossible to avoid, overwhelming and closed as it was in a labyrinth with no way out.

Where Ridley Scott had invented the Nostromo spaceship – underbelly and mother of a nightmare even more monstrous because feminine -, Dead Space created the Usg Ishimura, an orbiting fortress capable of extracting every mineral resource from a Planet (a " planet cracker " of the Cec fleet). Where the monster conceived by Hans Ruedi Giger found its reflection/opposite in a heroine against her will, Ellen Ripley with the statuesque features of Sigourney Weaver, the videogame placed Isaac Clarke, engineer of a rescue team embarked towards a silent Ishimura, but forced to save his own skin. It was soon clear that Clarke would rise to the Olympus of gaming, shortly thereafter becoming one of the most iconic characters – and not just of the genre, as demonstrated by the cameos in Nba Jam: on Fire Edition and Skate 3 .

The necromorphs are back too (image: Motive Studio/Ea)

Finally, where the cinema was violated by the alien, the videogame multiplied the antagonists and blind, ruthless violence, justified solely by itself itself: to hunt down gamers, in Dead Space, were the necromorphs, many, more and more and all faster and more resistant than him. Not to be stopped with a few blows, let alone: ​​to be dismembered. To be dismembered in an even seductive splatter whirlpool - great metafiction intuition -, and replicable, with massive escarpments on anything in its path, perhaps including the corpses of the former crew of the Ishimura.

At least in 2008, the action was framed by a background story to be discovered by playing, so that the reason, more human than human, of the monstrous space epidemic would gradually emerge. On this point the differences, indeed the improvements, of the remake begin. Which would be good to take a look at.

Remake vs Dead Space

From a narrative point of view – apart from an additional, unlockable ending – Dead Space does not differ much from the original. As repeated in several interviews by Roman Campos-Oriola , creative director of Motive Studio, his team never wanted to make changes for the sake of it, with the risk of ruining something particularly well done in 2008. The greater psychological depth of the characters , Clarke in the first place, however, allows a more in-depth understanding of the story than at the time. Accomplices traceable clues from the first moments of the game - textlogs, notes, holographic recordings - the story does not graft into the action in an artificial way, but makes it more convincing. The dark plots at the origin of the accident on the Ishimura become, just like on the Nostromo, something gradually more sinister and disturbing than the obvious consequences, which in Clarke's shoes one is forced to face.

In this sense the detail with which the real co-star of the game was characterized is fundamental: the Usg Ishimura, a pulsating, alive organism with an explicit personality.

The gigantic and labyrinthine Usg Ishimura (image: Motive Studio/Ea)

Remembering what they learned from the 2008 game, the Campos-Oriola team rethought the game map and interface, now more functional and useful: move back and forth, as many times as necessary, within the structure giant of the planet cracker, it is an easy and exciting operation, also thanks to the absence of loading (in the long run annoying in the original Dead Space) and of the transport system, which connects all the sectors of the spaceship. In fact, the choice allows you to see things and environments that did not exist or were only evoked in 2008.

Like any other essential component of the gameplay, exploration has also undergone a clear improvement, designed to make the game equally tense (read fun) the passages in areas already visited previously: thanks to side quests ready to consistently add valid reasons for treading, but also to an absolute novelty, the so-called "Intensity Director": together with the remodulation of lights, sparks and assorted noises , the disposition of the necromorphs is dynamically managed by the artificial intelligence, especially in the already explored areas. It reacts to the arsenal, to its upgrades, to the equipment with which Clarke moves.

In addition, thanks to the sectoralization of the energy cells, powering one area can radically change another - perhaps because it is the ventilation system has been deactivated, or the lights have gone out. As if you were really in a living place, the result is that you never fully know its pitfalls.

The microgravity sequences are among the best in Dead Space (image: Motive Studio/Ea)

Speaking of arsenal and equipment, in accordance with one of the most characteristic aspects of Dead Space , the remake restores all the classic paraphernalia (from the pulse rifle to the iconic Plasma Cutter , from stasis, with which to slow down opponents and mechanisms, to telekinesis, with which to move them), not depriving himself, also in this case, of a precious touch-up: in the breakers in the absence of gravity, instead of pushing himself from one wall to another as in 2008, Clarke can float by directing the thrusters of the his suit. Result: some of the most spectacular, but also cumbersome moments of Dead Space have become exciting in the remake.

What has been listed up to here, it should be emphasized, does not mention the purely technical improvements. And not because they are irrelevant, on the contrary: volumetric lights (and fog), realistic sources and an audio so accurate as to often make the difference, make up a sensorial concert capable of exploiting the resources of a good PC or the current gen of consoles.

The suffocating feeling of being trapped, the disproportion between Clarke's strength and that of who - or what - he has to face, a ton of splatter and the perception of being a microscopic pawn in a boundless mechanism, had made Dead Space a game capable of marking an era. Did you lose it in 2008? You will love Dead Space remake . Did you adore it? You will love Dead Space remake .

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