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A Mature Game in its Violence, Pacing, and Storytelling
Published on October 19, 2008 By mittens In Console Games

On paper, Dead Space is a game where a voiceless protagonist fights aliens aboard a gigantic space ship whose crew has been ruthlessly slaughtered. In practice, though, Dead Space's existence is a fresh entry in the action/horror genre that justifies its existence from the introductory sequence to its movie-caliber conclusion. Every chapter is more violent and horrific than its predecessor while, at the same time, it demonstrates a more comfortable new franchise that excels when its vacuum, zero-gravity, limb-severing gameplay mechanics feel comfortable enough to all combine into a single antechamber. It may start off a bit slow, but once it gets going, the team at EA Redwood demonstrates their deep understanding of their own game.

Dead Space has a very deliberate pacing that helps deliver its consistent feeling of impending doom that makes the action within the game have a fairly prescient meaning. It's a horror game whose scares don't rely on cheap startling tactics (or if it attempted them, they don't work), but rather its ability to make players approach every corridor and room as if they were bombs that could explode at any moment. At no point in the twelve hours it took me to play through Dead Space did the laundry list of objectives given to my voiceless character feel like chores.

Dead Space tells its story through a series of audio and text logs and a handful of interactions. It makes its narrative seem as a pretext for violence early on while it grows slowly through each chapter until, suddenly, it becomes a legitimately entertaining and interesting tale that doesn't rely on cheap plot devices or a tangled web of twists until it feels it's earned the right to drop a bombshell or two.

Most importantly, Dead Space carves a niche that only it can fill. It's neither Resident Evil 4, DOOM 3, nor System Shock 2; it takes its influences and makes them its own.

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