Dead Space 3 was the final game of EA and Visceral’s survival horror/action series, but it wasn’t so because of a lack of interest in Visceral’s part on following up on it. In fact, they had some pretty cool and crazy ideas for where they wanted the game to go. Speaking to Eurogamer, Ben Wanat, who was creative director of Dead Space (and who now works over at Crystal Dynamics), shared some of the early ideas Visceral had for where to take the popular franchise next.
It sounds like one of the ideas was to add several survival mechanics to the game- which would have made sense too, given the state of humanity at the end of Dead Space 3. “The notion was you were trying to survive day to day against infested ships, searching for a glimmer of life, scavenging supplies to keep your own little ship going, trying to find survivors,” Wanat explained.
They also wanted some non-linear gameplay in there- something that they had already experimented with in Dead Space 3 to an extent. “We would have finessed a lot of existing mechanics,” Wanat said. “The flotilla section in Dead Space 3 hinted at what non-linear gameplay could be, and I would have loved to go a lot deeper into that.”
And what about the story? The idea was for it to be an episodic thing, divided into chapters, trying to bridge that style of storytelling with the whole non-linear gameplay style that the developers were trying to go for.
“I figured you’d start in a section of space, maybe following a trail of ship carcasses to an orbital station you think might have the parts and fuel needed to get your ship Shock-capable,” Wanat said. “You’d start to form a picture of what happened in that region while fighting through scores of Necromorphs from ship to ship. And you’d learn a new, critical bit of plot info along with the means to Shock to a couple of nearby sectors.”
Wannat spoke about the future of the franchise as well, noting that Visceral knew how they wanted the game to end, and that there was an element of escalation involved- but also saying that he doesn’t want to actually give the planned ending away just yet, in case EA does plan on reviving the brand some day in the future.
“As much as everyone wanted to keep making Dead Space games, the cost of development was just too high compared to how much they sold. Nobody ever officially came out and said, ‘there will be no more Dead Space’. But for the first time in a while, it no longer appeared on any SKU plans.
“It would involve getting the development cost pushed way down. And I think you’d have to focus much more on a fantastic core experience: dread, horror, and great dismemberment combat – you’d also have to forego some of the ridiculously expensive one-off action moments.”
“I don’t want to give away the lore, but I will say that we spent a bit of time working out the origin of the Necromorphs and what purpose humans held in this dark universe. Would players find a way out of the Necromorph apocalypse? I’d say yes, but they might be sorry they did. Sometimes you’re better off with the devil you know…”
It’s a shame Visceral never got to continue telling the story they had stated- especially given how popular Dead Space was with fans. It is true, however, that sadly, the games never quite sold proportionately to their acclaim, and on one level, it is hard to fault the publisher for a decision that made complete financial sense. That said, I can only hope that, one day, maybe, Dead Space will be revived, and we will be able to see where the story was going to be headed.