Full disclosure: I was told that I didn’t need to play the original Dead Space if I wanted to play Dead Space 2. I read all of the plot online and watched the “Previously on Dead Space” video that came with the game. Having said that, this game was brilliant.
I’m a fan of horror movies. I have a high standard for them, but if a movie can find its way under my skin then I call it a success. I border on the fear/disgust/trauma line though. If horror movies go too far to the gross side/torture porn side (Drag Me To Hell/Hostel) then they lose me and I stop enjoying the experience. Dead Space 2 managed to make me cross those lines and keep going. This is a testament to how brilliant the writing and gameplay are.
The soundtrack and the audio also have some notably brilliant moments as there’s constantly faint scratching and walking throughout the rafter and such around you. I played with surround sound, so this effect is multiplied. The score had some moments where you get really high-pitched shrill strings and that ramps up the intensity for whatever moment you find yourself in.
The 15 chapters that you play through are fairly evenly balanced in length and difficulty, save for an odd bird here and there that will leave you yelling at your T.V. (regenerating necromorphs and no ammo? UGH.) These are minor complaints though, as you’ll usually be able to get out of any sticky situation with a few tries.
I was all cool with the story and the necromorphs until you find yourself in a sort of “space shopping mall” and inside the children’s area. That’s right. Child necromorphs. I was kind of disturbed and felt bad at this point. I was like, “Oh god. I have to kill kids?!” This is one of the strongest moments I’ve ever felt in a video game. I mean, in Call of Duty: MW2, I had no problem unloading rounds into an airport full of digital people, but you point me at an alien kid and all the sudden I feel terrible.
I overcame that though and pushed through. I legitimately wanted to know what happened to Issac and what the point of this whole thing was.
A few levels later the disturbing levels go WAY up. BABY necromorphs. That explode. Yeah…
In fact, the first time you see one, a lady worker in the nursery (who at this point is TOTALLY off her rocker) wants to hug one of the baby necromorphs, only for that baby to hug her back and then explode them both to bits. Still, I continued, I had to. At this point I was way to invested in Issac, Stross, Ellie, and creepy girlfriend ghost Nicole.
The reason I titled this post “Leave Hope at the Door” is because this game constantly strings you along with that little inkling of hope. That voice in your head that keeps on saying, “Maybe this is the last one and things will go better” gnaws at your feelings throughout the whole experience. Each time something starts to go well for Issac, things change at the last second and he has to alter his plan to fit the new situation.
Finally find that lady that’s helping you? She wants to kidnap you and then she gets killed. Find your friend Stross? He’s crazy and tries to kill you and your pal Ellie (he totally takes her eyeball out at one point). Ready to make peace with Nicole and let her go? She’s some crazy ghost that wants to kill you so that “they” can finally be reborn. Yeah… Hope doesn’t come in large quantities in this game.
The thing is, there’s just enough to keep you going. You like Issac. You want him to succeed! Each major failure is overwritten by that small glimmer of hope that keeps your progressing through the 15 chapters.
When the game is finally over, you’re greeted with quite possibly the best credits experience I’ve ever played. (The moment begins at about 3:15)
They bring back the theme of hopelessness for the credits. Everything is finished and all that’s left is for you to die in the place you created (on accident/against your will). But wait! Those credits aren’t real! You have a final push of anti-gravity flying to get to a ship and escape with Ellie! In the heat of the moment, this is exactly the dose of jovial hope that you (and Issac) needed. The anti-gravity sections of the game are some of the most fun parts (one mission has you flying through trash and debris as it explodes around you). This is such a brilliant way to end the game on a high note and prepare people for Dead Space 3.
All in all, this is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had playing a game. This automatically goes into my top 10 list of games. Now I’m all kinds of excited for Dead Space 3 and it appears I have some time (February 8th 2013) to scrounge up some dough and get that game pre-ordered.
Visceral, your game scared the crap out of me. I had to turn on a lamp when I was playing the dark. Keep up the good work. :]
(For more information on the Dead Space series and purchasing/pre-ordering their games, head here.)