I'm posting a multi-part video playthrough of Dead Space on Youtube. As a result, I took a look at something I wrote years ago in response to originally playing the game. Here it is, re-edited:
I played the original Silent Hill for about fifteen minutes before I had to press power and go for a quiet walk in the real world, perhaps secretly hoping to remind myself that everything would be okay. Stubbornly, I refused to play Resident Evil until the fourth numbered title. And, even then, only out of a sense of obligation in the face of the game's overwhelmingly breathless praise. At what I'm guessing was the half-way point, it got to be too much. Though I enjoyed RE4 as an action game, the survival horror foundation turned me away. For years I've tried to periodically expand my horizons as a game player, but--much like the point-and-click adventure--horror has never dug its hooks into me.
I don't mind being afraid and I can appreciate sustained tension punctuated by jarring scares. I do not, however, have much patience for feeling helpless. The Clock Tower series and Haunting Ground are fair examples of games I'm told are excellent, but I'll experience them as an observer. For me, there is nothing entertaining in constant terror without much (or any) self defense.
Dead Space, which I bought completely on a whim the week of its release, delivers a reliably enjoyable experience. And that's the best endorsement I could give for the game: as someone horror averse I to the well-crafted and consistent atmosphere of the surrounding unknown and the exhilaration of wiping out a room full of killer undead. There is a very solid sense of location and that alleviates another peeve of mine: confusing, maze-like settings. And though the player is being pushed down one corridor after another, exploration is encouraged for the bold and rewarded for the observant. The handy objective trail usually points one in the right direction, so there is little aimlessness. While this game still holds on to the traditions of restricted movement and limited resources, it also takes pains to help the player experience the adventure in his or her own way. It works with you and not against you.
Some may see Dead Space as a horror genre lightweight--merely an action game with a few scares and a fistful of survival horror trappings. I, however, compare the game to the movie Independence Day in as much as that film was a 1950s era sci-fi B-movie dressed up for the 1990s, a worthy member of a long tradition that sought to set a new standard of presentation quality for its sub-genre. Dead Space is frequently as unabashedly juvenile in its attempts to provoke, but rarely does it lose focus on the pure goals Visceral seems to have set.
|Check out the playthrough.|