Dead Space Review

When Dead Space originally released in 2008 I – like a lot of the gaming world – was blown away by the technically impressive, horrifying experience. It was the first true contender to my love of survival horror’s premier series Resident Evil, and I still recall moments where I recoiled in genuine fright as another monstrosity lurched out from the shadows. Fast forward to 2023 and while it could be argued the game is as good as ever, there’ s no denying the technical sheen has been lost somewhat. Enter Dead Space – a thorough technical remaking that does a masterful job of bringing that 14 year old feeling of genuine terror back.

The main gist of this remake is in the presentation – and what an up-spuff it has received. Comparison shots make the original game look lit up like a carnival, while those grim mutated Necromorphs don’t hold a candle to the 2023 versions. Dead Space is oozing (sometimes literally) in atmosphere. Even the simplest walk down a corridor has an air of tension that other games can only dream of, and the jump scares and random feeling attacks truly caught me off guard on more than one occasion. There’s been a few moments where I was prepared for an attack thanks to a memory of the original release, but I’ve still found myself fumbling in fright multiple times as I get ambushed by unseen Necromorphs from behind, above, or simply out of a vent beside me.

The use of light and shadow is far improved here, though the impressive amount of detail in each scene is still easily visible thanks to Issac’s flashlight or the many ambient light sources around the USG Ishimura. It rarely got any less tense when I could hear a Necro coming but couldn’t see them until my flashlight danced across them. EA Motive don’t fuck around when it comes to stacking the deck against us too. Lights go out, vent hatches burst open, and we’re not granted light back until the very last moment, usually when one of the enemies are almost face to face with us. Even just one or two at a time can be enough to cause a bit of light cursing, and just wait until one of the bigger dudes drops in for a visit.

Motive also make use of what they call the Intensity Director. This is supposed to monitor our play session and call in monsters if it feels we’re having a bit of an easier time of things. In practice, I’m not sure I really noticed this much, though it’s hard to tell when a I was faced with a scripted encounter or the ID kicking in. But we’re rarely left alone for too long, and I definitely felt under threat more of the time than in 2008.

Those who’ve played the original release will find the story and flow much the same here. There have been a few tweaks, and some side missions added in, but for the most part this is the same story again. Not that I’m complaining; Dead Space initially hooked me in with a short series of motion-comics detailing the story, and the game’s tale is just as good as ever.

In case you’re new to the series, let me give you a quick set-up. We play as Isaac Clark, a engineer aboard a ship on their way to the USG Ishimura. Known as a ‘Planet Cracker’ class mining ship – where by it literally cracks planet’s surfaces open in search of minerals and resources – it is conducting an illegal mining operation of planet Aegis VII before sending out a distress call and going dark. Isaac’s girlfriend Nicole is on board, and he and a small team have been sent to fix what is presumed to be an error in communication equipment. Of course, things aren’t what they seem and the Ishimura’s latest haul of goods included a long-rumoured but oft dismissed artifact known as a Marker, which has an…unexpected effect on the crew.

What follows is a dozen hours of gruesome combat, scares, and puzzles as Isaac and the crew try to escape the Ishimura. This ship has been granted quite a remake too in this new release, feeling much more grounded and present compared to the segmented nature of the 2008 title. Area’s flow into each other more naturally, although the tram system still keeps us locked to a handful of locations to go between.

Dead Space is far from the first remake, and it certainly won’t be the last, but Motive have done a fantastic job of sticking true to the original spirit while improving it in every aspect. Visuals and audio are fantastic (even if recent spiritual successor The Callisto Protocol looks much more technically impressive to my eye) while the continued use of diegetic UI impresses just as much now as it did prior. Isaac’s health, stasis and ammo are displayed within his suit, while any use of the menu’s keeps us grounded in the Ishimura, able to move around (and be attacked) freely. Few games have managed this aspect well at all, but Dead Space still proves to be the master of its implementation.

Even if you’ve not played before, this version holds up against anything modern gaming can throw at it in terms of gameplay feel, presentation, and general craftsmanship. Outside of the excellent Resident Evil 2 remake, this is one of the best remakes out there, and can be enjoyed by anyone keen to jump aboard the Ishimura, be they new or returning fans.


Dead Space is back with a fantastic reimagining of the 2008 original. The game plays just as well as it did before, but now comes with a host of visual, audio, and general gameplay improvements that make it one of the best survival horrors out there. Here’s hoping should we get further iterations they use this as the baseline and steer clear of the issues that plagued the series later on.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

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  • Looks fantastic
  • Still one of the best playing survival horrors out there
  • Just enough new stuff added without changing too much
  • Intensity Director isn't quite as noticeable in action as we'd hoped
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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