Dead Space (Xbox Series X/S) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 07.02.2023

Review for Dead Space on Xbox Series X/S

Dead Space, a Sci-Fi action horror game which released in 2008 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, was a fantastic game that set a new standard for AAA horror games in the generation. This title spun out into a full series with a third game that left players wanting. Come 2023 and EA has released a new Dead Space, a remake of the original spearheaded by their Motive development studio. This remake was developed with feedback from fans and aimed to take the original concept and elevate it to set a new standard for horror games in this current generation. What did they change, and did it work? Let's suit up and ship out! (Beware of minor spoilers in this review)

Return to the Ishimura in Dead Space. Remade and re-written, this version of the trend setting Sci-Fi action horror game is promising to be as faithful as possible while expanding on the original experience. The story retells Isaac Clark's first encounter with the necromorph threat while looking for his girlfriend Nicole Brennan, whom he had influenced to take her job on the planet-cracker-class mining ship, the USG Ishimura. The evocative opening shots of space and the tense arrival in the suspiciously quiet ship sets the tone perfectly. It mirrors the original, except now Isaac interacts with the other members of the team and the visuals are extremely detailed. The sense of scale in the opening has also changed, with things feeling much larger and more menacing. The rest of the story follows Isaac and the team as they try to fix the Ishimura and survive the horrors within. There are loads of twists and turns in the story, all of which, while somewhat predictable, are presented sublimely here without adjusting the original vision.

Screenshot for Dead Space on Xbox Series X/S

Similar to Resident Evil on the GameCube, this remake adds little areas to explore but unlike that game, it adds loads of side objectives and heavily reflows the game to make the Ishimura one explorable whole. It feels amazing to revisit the ship and find all sorts of new areas and story hooks that were absent or unexplored in the original. These link areas meaning Isaac no longer needs the tram to travel between locations. Backtracking is enhanced by Motive's intensity AI which, according to how the player is doing, ramps up tension by turning off lights, changing environmental conditions and adding in enemies in previously cleared areas. It's this attention to detail that makes this expansion of the original content feel so sublime.

This expansion impacts character narratives as well, with Isaac, Nicole and many others having far more story, logs and side quests linking the crew, events and story together. This expansiveness also serves to link the first game more smoothly to the sequels, though with how this remake is, it is a promising look at what Motive could do with a Dead Space 2 remake.

Screenshot for Dead Space on Xbox Series X/S

Gameplay has also been tweaked to match the updates made to all the systems. Isaac feels a little quicker and features such as zero gravity areas are overhauled for free floating using Isaac's suit thrusters. The stomp feature has been somewhat overhauled allowing Isaac to do more damage and pop items out of dead enemies a little easier than he did before. Everything feels heavy and deliberate but not in a way that makes everything slow à la God of War: Ragnarok. As with the series before, control remains in the player's hands most of the time but there is a token number of scenes that remove player agency in favour of highlighting horror with more cinematic shots.

Enemies have been heavily redesigned. Many of them now wear Ishimura uniforms correct to the environment they are encountered in, and they also have new fresh systems. Motive created a layered system of flesh and bone to make sure players can't just loose one shot and take off a limb; now players have to strategise by focussing on certain joints. Most guns will take off the flesh with one shot but require a more accurate second shot to dismember an enemy. Cutting off limbs is very much still the focus of the combat design though and the game still reaffirms this concept at least 3 times upon Isaac getting the plasma cutter.

A fair few moments in the game have been redesigned to make Isaac's approach feel more like he's a dedicated engineer and not a soldier. This includes redesigns of certain events that were cited as being frustrating before. In fact, the new emphasis on engineering allowed the developers to work in new scenarios, one of which is the circuitry panels allowing players to choose between things like doors or lights getting power. These are leading to some very cool scenarios where players have to make hard choices to progress. There is also a greater feeling of progression thanks to the new security level system where Isaac is locked out of certain areas and side quests until he has clearance to enter those parts of the ship.

Screenshot for Dead Space on Xbox Series X/S

Visually and atmospherically things are elevated to a new high. It's not as technologically advanced as The Callisto Protocol but it's far prettier in terms of style choices. Lighting makes up a huge part of the presentation and is highlighted by new environmental effects like thick fogs and spark cascades. Lots of these new effects are altered each time players pass through an area by the intensity AI, meaning areas have fresh effects work, keeping backtracking from becoming stale. The artwork for the original game is intact with fantastic new 3D modelling work, highlighting the heavy industrial nature of Dead Space's concept artwork. Characters have been reworked to match their new motion capture and voice actors, meaning Isaac and Nicole appear a little older and far more realistic. Isaac's suit and weapons are also redesigned to look somewhat more believable while retaining that industrial Sci-Fi grime they had before. This is enhanced with little touches like Isaac getting frosted over whenever in space's vast vacuum.

Audio has seen significant overhauling too, now with improved surround sound environments highlighting every drip, clang and grunt to a terrifying degree. The voice work is sublime and follows a new and improved script that manages to incorporate some of the quotable lines from the original while adjusting slightly the personification of each character. Isaac himself is voiced by Gunnar Wright who voiced him in Dead Space 2 and 3 and he does a fantastic job. Isaac never talks at times that would be annoying, he doesn't TALK THROUGH PUZZLES like PlayStation characters love to do, he only really responds or interjects when it makes sense during story moments.

In terms of downsides, this release has very few but a way to move directly up or down in zero gravity would have made some traversal a little less disorienting.

Screenshot for Dead Space on Xbox Series X/S

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

EA and Motive have pulled a blinder here. Dead Space not only faithfully remakes the original, it exceeds it in quality and expands it in a way that supremely enhances the experience. They took many risks like giving Isaac a voice and revamping the Ishimura's structure, but these gambles have paid off tenfold. Players familiar and unfamiliar with the original will have a fantastic time exploring this classic Sci-Fi horror game. Highly recommended!









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   


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