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Scared Shitless? Does Dead Space 3 Still Deliver the Terror?

And just like that, with a single creepy glance, a new leader in survival horror was crowned. The final moment of the original Dead Space delivered one of best scares in gaming history. In the past few weeks I’ve heard a ton of comments by folks claiming that Dead Space 3, with the inclusion of co-op, would no longer be scary. After spending a few days with Visceral’s latest, I finally have the answer to what everyone has been wondering, is the Dead Space franchise still scary?

The Sites: Dead Space 3 continues the story of Isaac Clarke, who like Ripley in Aliens is the “go to” person for info about the increasingly dire alien necromorph threat. As a matter of fact, the plot thus far is mirroring Aliens in a lot of ways, and that’s not a bad thing. While the game offers drop-in drop-out multiplayer, all of us at Nerd Appropriate are opting to play through the game in single player mode before tackling the story with a friend (check out our thoughts on episode 91 of our podcast Rated NA). Visually, the game is gorgeous to look at and offers up some of the best lighting and character animations in recent memory. The way Isaac’s armor illuminates the dark interior of a derelict spaceship will probably leave you staring at the ship walls in awe rather than completing whatever the heck your current objective might be. While there are a variety of different locations and environments, Visceral managed to disguise the game’s load times behind events that are actually appropriate to the story. The game NEVER loads folks, it just keeps going and the non-existent HUD is the best in the business .

The Sounds: The sound effects and ambient sounds of Dead Space 3 continue to play a major role in the scares. With every muffled hiss and alien moan, you’ll no doubt find yourself spinning in 360 degrees just to make sure some creepy thing isn’t right behind you ready to pounce. If you’re not playing Dead Space with some nice headphones or 7.1 surround, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. Recently, while exploring an infested ship, an event occurred that effectively eliminated my character’s ability to hear. Being deaf and somewhat blind is no bueno when the things in the dark are trying to eat you.

The Tech: The new crafting system allows for the player to build his/her own custom weapons from scratch and manages to do it in an exciting way that is easy to learn.  As Isaac (an engineer) progresses through the story all sorts of scrap metal and random bits of tech will be found in various random locations.  After bringing the items to the nearest workbench the items can be combined into an almost limitless combination of necromorph killing weapons.  Do you want a shotgun with a underslung saw blade?  No problem!  What about a machine gun with another machine gun attached that shoots electro bullets and has a cool scope thing?  Sure thing.  The guns all look incredible despite being held together with necromorph goo and duct tape and feel great to fire as well.  Well done!

The Scares: After putting some thought as to why some folks might feel as though Dead Space 3 isn’t quite as scary as the first two entries in the series, I can honestly say that it’s simply due to familiarity.  Like Isaac, we’ve done this before.  Sure, monsters in the dark are pretty damn terrifying, but we’ve seen hundreds of these creeps before in Dead Space 1 and 2 and have managed to blow them all to itty-bitty pieces.  I would venture to say that players who have never played a Dead Space game before will probably want to keep a pair of Depends undergarments nearby just in case.  Play Dead Space 3 alone in the dark with some great headphones and no distractions and I can almost promise your pulse will race and your palms will sweat.  If Dead Space 3 isn’t scary you’re probably playing it wrong.

  • For sure, the game still offers plenty of tension, and I think the “scariness” is calibrated realisticly. It’s the 3rd game for us, and it also consumes the whole of Isaac’s life.

    Isaac, the character, has changed a bit too, he’s older and wiser (which probably explains why he enjoy’s Phil Collins cover music while he’s hunting in the frozen tundra). So it would make sense that flat-out terror has turned to constant high-tension.

    Nevermind that the game features some of the most spectacular in-game sequences this side of Uncharted. Shit is wild. And how amazing is that co-op? You’d think, “yeah, 2 people… we’ve got this.” NOPE, ya don’t got it. Game is frantic and fast paced, and I think the enemies are tougher too on co-op. Can’t wait for the “impossible” play-through with shotgun / shotgun loadouts. haha.

  • Joe

    I just finished the first chapter and I’m on the second. No doubt this game is just as scary as the other two, but like mentioned some people may say it’s not because they know what’s coming out of the vents so the shock is gone. Anyway to make up for this, sound is the KEY. I’m playing with my Seinnheiser headset and believe me it’s hard to turn the xbox on at night due to my anxiousness about being sucked back into ds3’s world where ever sound, hiss, moan, scream, explosion, etc is perfectly tuned. Along with perfect audio you have tighter gameplay and upgraded graphics that rival any current game. Can’t mention the story yet, obviously, but early in I’m having a near-perfect in-game experience.

  • I was terrified of Dead Space 1, and still can barely play it, yet I can play Dead Space 3 with no problem, so I don’t think it’s familiarity that makes it not scary.