EA Motive has been uncommonly talkative throughout the development of its Dead Space remake, with the studio hosting various livestreams to show off the likes of its improved art, audio, and gameplay changes – but now, with the game’s 27th January launch inching ever nearer, we’ve had our clearest look yet at how all those elements will come together, courtesy of a new eight-minute gameplay walkthrough.
Hot on the heels of last week’s 2-minute gameplay trailer, EA celebrated Dead Space’s 14th anniversary today with an extended sequence from the remake’s third chapter, in which protagonist Isaac must explore the infested USG Ishimura in order to reach the ship’s engineering deck take and repair its engines.
The sequence began in Ishimura’s hanger – an area that’s now much bigger than it was in the original (a side-by-side comparison made the differences abundantly clear) – with players now able to zero-g their way around the area. Some of remake’s environmental changes have been made to enhance the atmosphere, while other were required to accommodate the fact the Ishimura is now one seamless, interconnected ship, with players no longer needed to rely on the tram to get around.
This move to a huge, interconnected space that can be traversed and re-traversed presented EA Motive with an interesting challenge – namely how to authentically fill a space that didn’t exist in the original game – and it’s calling the solution the Intensity Director. Now, should players backtrack or choose to explore away from an objective, they might encounter a “completely different experience” dynamically generated from varying degrees of systemic events.
These moments are built from elements – including enemies, ambiance, and lighting – based on an intensity curve designed to maintain tension and keep players on edge. So, for instance, following a dynamically generated fight, the Intensity Director might opt to create quieter, more tense moments, with players suddenly finding that a previously visited corridor is now full of blinking lights and creepy sounds – all intended to ensure sure things remain “unpredictable and bring some additional tension and challenge”. The Director can even mix things up and a jump scare into a seemingly safe area.
Further on in the walkthrough, EA Motive showed a sequence where Isaac is required to navigate the ship’s machine shop to reach the refuelling station. Here, we get an example of a scripted scare, in which a necromorph drops down from above. Many of these aspects will be familiar to those who’ve played the original game – EA calls them “memorable moments authentic to the original” – although changes have been made to bolster encounters, including “tonnes of graphical enhancements that support strategic dismemberment”.
At this point, EA Motive’s walkthrough jumped ahead again, this time to a sequence in which Issac must find a way to enter the fuel management office and access the power functions controlling the refuelling station. Here, EA notes that one of its objectives with the remake was to add more context to objectives and “expand on what was there and bring a bit more detail and depth”, and we get an example of this once inside the fuel management office.
To progress, players must route power to the refuelling station, but doing so requires them to choose which systems they’ll disable to do so, in turn changing how the sequence plays out. Cut life support, for instance, and players will need to rely on oxygen canisters until they reach the refuelling station. Alternatively, they can disable the lights – as see in the walkthrough – forcing them to progress in the dark.
EA Motive’s next stop is the Ishimura’s decontamination room, where the studio demoed how it has used “new tech” to “crank up the tension”. Specifically, dynamic smoke is deployed here to create a claustrophobic, “thick, opaque atmosphere” which makes it harder to see lurkers, even when they’re inches away from the player.
Then finally, we’re at the centrifuge, where EA talks about the new effects it’s used – including particles effects, lighting, and floating debris – to create a more “impressive” location that’s both “imposing [and able to] tell a story at the same time”. Additionally, the expanded zero-g space has a gameplay impact, with EA noting it’s now harder to keep track of incoming necromorphs, requiring more spacial awareness.
All that is featured in the eight-minute walkthrough above, but the full 14th anniversary livestream had a little more chatter after that. Generally, it was light on details, but did reveal that EA has created more diverse looks for slashers – to make them feel more like individuals from Ishimura’s crew – and discussed Isaac’s newfound voice in a little more detail.
While the goal with the latter addition was intended, as EA put it, to enhance Isaac as a character and give him a bit more agency, the studio once again stressed that he won’t be chattering throughout the experience. Instead, to preserve tension while exploring the Ishimura, Isaac will (bar one or two instances) only ever talk when he’s spoken to – essentially, the times where it might feel weird if he showed no emotion or had no reaction.
All in all, it was another extremely promising look at EA’s Dead Space remake, and it won’t be long before all its secrets are revealed – what with the game set to launch for PC, Xbox Series X/S, and PS5 on 27th January next year.