Monsters in SPACE!
Continuing our discussion about Horror Video games today I would like to talk about Dead Space, a sci-fi horror game that has a well-earned place in the hearts and minds of many.
Story – SPOILERS AHEAD
In a nutshell, the story is set well into the future, on a starship designed to mine ore on a massive scale. The ship has sent out a distress signal and that’s where we come into the story. We’re part of the rescue team, Isaac the engineer to be precise. When you crash land (because of course, you do) most of your team is brutally murdered by space monsters (because of course, they are). The ship is falling apart and it’s up to you to fix them so you and your two surviving teammates can stay alive long enough to get off the ship.
The story unfolds as Isaac discovers audio logs, which detail what happened prior to the distress signal being sent. To keep it to the point the ship found a valuable relic, they removed it (oh noes!) and everyone on the planet and the ship went mental, resulting in lots of murder. The relic, which also has a virus in it somehow, infects all the dead people and brings them back (Space Zombies!)
Isaac managed to fix up the ship enough to launch another distress call, but low and behold space zombies are on the new rescue ship and there’s another crash. But this turns out to be a good thing as this ship was not coming to save them but to destroy them, to stop Space Zombies getting all over the solar system.
There’s a ‘Queen’ zombie (think wasps, ants and bees) and it is decided that returning the relic will appease the Queen Zombie and stop the other Zombies. But betrayal is a thing and one of your surviving teammates is a total asshole who tries to leg it with the relic (seriously why would you want a relic that turns things into Zombies, Zombies aren’t a great thing to have around, they smell for one thing and they drip on the carpet).
The relic is returned (because of course, it is), but asshole teammate shows you that your being affected by the relic and some of the things you’ve been seeing and doing are a direct result of the relic screwing with you. The Queen wakes up, kills asshole teammate and then you fight her (because of course, you do), you leave the planet, but the ending is a bit vague and you might be dead, or you might just be hallucinating.
You play from an ‘over the shoulder’ perspective, controlling Isaac. The layout of the screen is a bit different to the usual, the health meter, for instance, is not in the corner of the screen but on your suit, the ammo count for your weapons is on your weapons not on the screen etc. While this can take a little getting used to it’s a good tactic for immersive gameplay, a must in a horror genre game.
Combat is pretty gruesome, you’re fighting zombies effectively and you do so by chopping them up. Head wounds, the traditional go-to for Zombies, won’t cut it here. Dismemberment is the order of the day, so you better have a strong stomach.
One of my favourite parts of the game was how Isaacs weapons work. He’s effectively a space mechanic and your weapons reflect this, he’s not running around with a sword, he’s got mining tools from around the ship, saws, and torches. It’s pretty neat. There are guns available but I’m fond of a good plasma cutter myself.
The games not all about dismemberment and plasma cutters though, there are puzzles as well, nothing quite like trying to solve a puzzle under pressure.
Overall I’d say Dead Space is a fun romp, it’s a brilliant example of merging Horror and Sci-Fi and a must play if you ever fancy chopping up Space Zombies.