Isaac Clarke ventures into the scariest territory of all in Dead Space 3: The risk of ruining the franchise by releasing a shitty third installment (This is the part where Connor Kenway and Commander Shepard start crying out of sheer fear).
I’ve never played a previous Dead Space, so fanboys be warned; this is all coming from a Dead Space noob. BUT! I was interested in Dead Space 3 because I wanted one hell of a scare, which is the main reason most people would get a Dead Space game. So the real question is, did I get my dose of frights? Did I wet myself with fear? Did the game live up to its name? Well… not quite.
Dead Space 3 does a lot right, so Visceral Games’ third installment is instantly spared the title of horrendous. In fact, the flaws are limited enough that I might as well say the both of them outright: The tasks the game deals are boring as boring can be and Dead Space has lost its scare factor. The first problem is partially remedied by the beautiful environments and eerie atmosphere, but there are still glaring moments where you’re almost contemplating turning off the game due to sheer boredom of the “collect X amount of things” formula. The other problem, the lack of proper scare, is a bigger issue by far. In a game called Dead Space, you’d assume there’d be a good amount of horror present. Sadly, in Visceral’s attempt to widen the target audience and line EA’s pockets, they’ve lost what made the franchise so successful.
Dead Space 3’s entire campaign provided me with exactly seven successful jump scares, total. That means out of a dozen plus hours of gameplay, there were only seven brief (three to five seconds long) segments where I was actually frightened. If you’re looking for a super scary game, I can tell you upfront that Dead Space 3 is NOT the game you’re looking for, and you’ll be bored to tears if you go from objective to objective asking yourself “are they going to scare me yet?”.
With that said, Dead Space 3 is actually a tolerable third person shooter. It combines an amazing weapon customization system with some solid shooter mechanics, and a bunch of distracting minigames to break up the carnage. The core gameplay goes a little something like this:
1.) Enter room, shoot a bunch of Necromorphs to chunks
2.) Enter next room, build a better gun at a bench
3.) Repeat step one
While it IS relatively bad in terms of creativity and pacing, the actual way the developers go about introducing you to each new area of the game is really well done. Even if you’re doing the same objective you did ten minutes ago, you’re in a new facility with a unique horror-spin on it to give an atmosphere that overrides most in-game boredom. The actual gunplay isn’t good enough to save this game on its own, but it is fairly solid (for a wannabe horror game). Each gun can have up to two projectile types, whether that be a submachine gun and a flamethrower or a buzzsaw and acid pellets. My favorite combo was an acidified burst rifle coupled with a grenade launcher, which was completely OP with some circuit upgrades. That’s another pro of the gameplay: The upgrade system. Both your suit and your guns can be upgraded, to make the OCD gamers dumpster dive through every crevice of the game in order to get the absolute best gear and loot. Even I got a little… compulsive, in my many searches for the ultimate gun blueprint. So even when the gunplay itself lacks fun, the sheer thrill of testing a new gun and collecting new parts for another is what constantly compels you to keep playing.
Aside from gunplay, there are the occasional puzzles and platforming segments of Dead Space 3. The puzzles can range from stupidly obvious to stupidly deceptive. For example, there is a boss which appears THREE TIMES throughout the campaign, and the first two times all you have to do is shoot him until he’s close to death and scurries away. Then, the third time, you need some dumbass harpoon trap to kill him, which makes absolutely no sense seeing as your guns did the job the first two times. As far as platforming goes, it’s limited to some ice climbing segments which don’t really contribute or detract from the overall package, involving little more than running up the face of a cliff. There are also some weird-ass Green Lantern flying segments near the end of the game. Go figure.
Seeing as this was my first time playing a Dead Space game, I chose to ride solo and really try and milk this game for its fear factor. That, and the fact EA implemented an online pass. FOR A TWO PLAYER CO-OP GAME. C’mon EA. C’mon. Not cool. Sooooooooooooo, all of the above opinions are based solely on a single player experience, and I can only assume co-op adds to the fun.
-Great gun building system
-Solid loot system
-Atmosphere is gripping
-Relatively lengthy, over ten hours for story missions only
-I can assume co-op is fun?
-Story loses momentum after an hour of gameplay
-Missions are an annoying blend of fetch quests and regrouping with partners
-Puzzles could’ve used more cleverness, instead of being tedious
-Some annoying glitches that force you to replay half a chapter (in part due to a bad autosave system)
-Final Chapter is complete BS from start to finish
Dead Space 3 is literally as middle-of-the-road as it gets in terms of quality. It’s borderline unplayable due to tedium and boredom, but at the same time extremely addictive because of the weapon crafting. So, if you want scares or anything relevant to the previous Dead Spaces, avoid this game. If you want an extremely solid third person shooter, avoid this game. If you want a game with a great world to explore, gunplay that can be riveting at times and a campaign that houses a decent amount of content, Dead Space 3 is the game for you. Amidst all of its obvious flaws, I found myself enjoying it, enjoying it just enough to keep playing all the way to the end. Maybe that’s because I’m new to the series and haven’t been spoiled with Dead Space 1 or 2, but as its own thing, DS3 is tolerable.