CAUTION: SPOILERS FOR THE DEAD SPACE SERIES INCLUDED IN THIS REVIEW
Dead Space 3 gets a ton of things right. This entry into the series, up until the after-credits scene, is a fitting end to a long hard few days for Issac Clarke.
This game begins w/ Issac having broken up w/ Ellie from Dead Space 2 after seemingly becoming a recluse and desperately trying to figure out how to stop the coming end of humanity. Everyone thinks he’s just gone nuts from the stress/mind issues of the previous games. All of the sudden his apartment is broken into and he’s thrust on this adventure as Danik tries to kill him and bring the end of humanity by activating the final marker. Obviously, Issac can’t let that happen.
Dead Space 3’s story is the culmination of the series. The final resolution is on its way as Issac has to stop Danik and save humanity. Visceral has been fantastic on delivering tight, epic narrative for this series. This entry is no different. The story here is emotional, scary, and, at time, surprisingly heartfelt. There are moments in this game where you realize, “Damn. This is happening. This is rough.” These moments make the game that much more emotive and the player, at least for me, that much more empathetic.
Issac Clarke can’t catch a break. While the story in 3 is pretty incredible, I still don’t think it manages to hit the bar set by 2. There were moments in 2 that will forever be seared into my memory. There were moments that legitimately disturbed me and made me uncomfortable. This is a good thing. Not once did I feel that in 3. 3 is more of an action game w/ horror elements throughout. Some fans think this is a bad thing. I don’t. The game mixes both action and horror really well and still hits the right notes throughout. I was never bored, but I was never horrified either. Sure, there are new Necromorphs, but none of them are scarier than anything from the rest of the series.
Dead Space 3 wants the characters to shine in this entry and boy do they. The characters in this are brilliantly written. Even as people are dying off (it’s the last game in a trilogy, lots of people are going to die) they manage to make each on hurt in their own special way. People are left behind. People are killed to save others. Tough decisions have to be made, and are.
The gameplay is pretty much the same as the other entries, save for co-op (Which I haven’t experienced yet) and customization. You can make a crazy amount of awesome weapons in this game. The new Bench tool creation system makes mixing and matching weapon parts exhilarating. (I stuck w/ the Evangelizer Shotgun and Mjonir throughout the majority of the game. I like to keep beasties away from me, but when they do get close Mjolnir kills ’em quick.) There are also Scavenger bots that will pick up resources for you during the game. These come in incredibly handy during the later parts of the story. (DOWNLOAD THE PERSONALITY PACK FOR THESE GUYS! It’s seriously one of the funniest parts of the game and added a much needed does of humor in the midst of horror.)
The flying missions continue to be a high point of the series for me. I love these levels. Flying, shooting, and dodging make these sections and adrenaline boost whilst remaining fun and light. In the usual missions, it’s dark and scary. These are bright and exciting. There are a good 4-5 of these throughout the 19 chapters of 3. ENJOY THEM.
The soundtrack/sound design here is brilliant as well. The game is scary. Skittering sounds of claws in walls, cries of agony from Necromorphs, depth perceptive sound coming from other rooms or down corridors; this game gets these things right.
Graphics are about the same as 2 with some nice additions. Issac’s visor now gives off light meaning, you’ll see 3 bars of green (or other shapes depending on the suit you’re wearing) shining on the walls as you walk around. I thought this was pretty cool. There are tons of suits you can unlock/buy, so finding out which ones do what is a pretty cool experience. It’s also a nice level of dimension for the gameplay.
And now for what ruined the ending for me. Again, SPOILERS FOLLOW.
At the end of the game, everything seems to resolve for Issac. He and Ellie get back together long enough for him to apologize for everything and save her. He forces her to leave the planet so he can blow everything up w/ Carver and save humanity. She jumps in a ship and blasts off as he fights the last enemy and flips the switch to save the world. As everything is exploding the world slows down, Issac takes a deep breath, looks at his picture of Ellie, smiles, and closes his eyes. His mask was gone (was broken earlier and he ripped it off) and everything goes bright as the planet explodes and he floats into space. Ellie calls his name on the comms after seeing the planet explode. She calls for him and Carver. After no answer, she begins crying and mentions the marker signal is gone. “You did it Issac. You did it.” She says this between tears and turns the ship around before leaping into shock-space and leaving. ROLL CREDITS.
Now, after the credits the screen goes black and you hear Issac call out, “Ellie? ELLIE?!”
That’s it. After everything, Issac is somehow alive. At least, I think that’s what the writers want us to think. If that’s true and he is actually alive then that is terrible on a level like “The Dark Knight Rises.” Everything leading up to his death, INCLUDING his death, is pretty effective and blatant. Issac surviving is so ridiculous that it shouldn’t even be a possibility. The story is immensely better if he is dead. He gave up everything to save humanity, and that’s beautiful. If he doesn’t die, that ending is tarnished in my opinion. It doesn’t hurt as much.
If it’s some weird “afterlife voice” then I’m cool w/ that, but it doesn’t seem like it at the time. It’s the equivalent of Shepard breathing after the end of Mass Effect 3. It just doesn’t make sense, and hurts the story.
This is a huge misstep for an otherwise awesome game.
9/10 here for me. Awesome finale.
Have you played the game? Agree/Disagree w/ my review? Let me know in the comments!