With the second outing of Isaac Clarke having been recently devoured by gamers worldwide, and the first DLC having been given a prompt release, we’re all still fairly in awe of just how much the series has come along since the original Dead Space back in 2008. We were certainly very enamoured by it in our review for the game but, having picked our collective jaws off the floor, we though it might be time to consider how Visceral games could improve upon the series for its next major instalment.
First things first, a few changes in terms of story focus would help the next game stay fresh. Please note that, in the following few paragraphs, there may be potential spoilers for those who haven’t completed Dead Space 2 yet. With Isaac surviving the encounter with the marker on the Sprawl, in conjunction with the conversation about the other markers after the game’s credits, we can only assume that Dead Space 3 will revolve around Isaac searching for the remaining markers. In a way I’d rather this wasn’t the case for a number of reasons.
For a start, it would be nice to have a new protagonist. Preferably one with a bit more character than Isaac. I generally thought Clarke was a fantastic protagonist but, after receiving complaints that his silent participation in the original game was not enough, his sudden vocal characterisation in Dead Space 2 felt like a half measure. Isaac always seemed to me to epitomise the silent protagonist who can represent the every-man. It took me some time to get used to him even having a voice in Dead Space 2, but even after adjusting I still just felt unconvinced by his suddenly chatty nature. Forcing Clarke into this position didn’t really convince me, so maybe a new protagonist would solve the problem? After all, the character change seen in the recent Severed DLC for Dead Space 2 made the whole experience felt fresh and new, and Dead Space 3 could do with the same treatment.
Having said this, the Severed chapters altered the isolated and solitary elements that made the two Dead Space games so frightening. The desolate horror of the Dead Space games was well handled in Dead Space 2, and we can only hope that they take this even further in a potential third game. One aspect that really increased the scares in Dead Space 2 was the use of psychological horror that was facilitated by Isaac’s dementia. The problem with having Clarke as the protagonist in Dead Space 3 would be that there would be no way they could include any psychological trickery on account of Isaac ridding himself of his mental ills at the end of DS2.
The issue of loneliness is also something that ought to be addressed in the game’s multiplayer. The online component of DS2 was a good start, but it didn’t really retain the game’s classic feel of solitary tension, on account of the many team-based modes. This could easily be fixed if Visceral just create more modes that pit you on your own against the necromorph onslaught. Infestation type modes that have you swapping between players as the single engineer could really put the scares on, especially with human controlled necromorphs looking for new and bizarre ways to sneak up on you.
There are also certain improvements that could be made to the single player aspect of the game. Pacing is one thing that could do with a bit of tightening. The beginning segments of DS2 were fantastic. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t completely able to keep up that same level of engagement for the duration. If Dead Space 3 could keep up such an intense and cinematic pacing for the whole game, it will be game of the year for 2012/13 for sure. If they can also replicate the amazing set pieces of Dead Space 2, then the next DS title will probably also be game of the decade.
In terms of additions between DS1 and 2 there wasn’t a huge amount to speak of either. What they did add was enjoyable. In terms of weapons the mine launcher and javelin gun really alternate the game’s play dynamics and the stalker and child enemies really sent chills up my spine. That said, aside from the odd weapon and enemy type there wasn’t a lot added between the two games. For DS3 we definitely need more weapons and items and a much more diverse array of foes to battle.
With two titles under its belt already, the Dead Space series has had time to solidify its gameplay mechanics. What we need then is just a little bit more of what made the games so intense and satisfying. It’s the horror and the story that needs the real changes. Not because the originals were bad by any means, but just to keep fans on their toes. Until more concrete details come in on the future of the Dead Space series, all we can hope is that they won’t resort to a game about Isaac having to take down yet another marker. Dead Space 3 deserves better than that.
Any other changes you’d like to see for the next Dead Space title? Help us feed the discussion in the comments below.