Well, it’s finally happening. The sudden demise of Dead Space and Visceral Games was a tough pill to swallow when it happened nearly a decade ago, and honestly, it still stings. Fans have been clamouring for a Dead Space revival, especially with the survival horror genre having enjoyed the kind of resurgence it has in the last few years- and yes, after several weeks of consistent leaks and rumours, it’s been confirmed that the original Dead Space is indeed being remade by EA Motive, the studio behind Star Wars: Squadrons. Though the game’s announcement trailer was brief and didn’t give much away, many new details on it have emerged since then, particularly in an interview with the developers published by IGN. As such, here, we’re going to go over some of the most interesting pieces of information that have emerged on the Dead Space remake.
Dead Space is the sort of timeless game that would have been perfectly served even with a fairly conservative remaster, but the development team at EA Motive has bigger ambitions for this game. It’s a ground-up remake, and based on what the developers are saying about it, it seems it’s going to be reimagining the original game rather than sticking to it faithfully, similar to what Resident Evil 2 did a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, where the visuals are concerned, rather than porting in assets and animations from the original game, Motive is completely remaking all of them, while it seems level design is also going to be tweaked here and there, particularly in instances where the original game had to make changes that were forced by technological constraints.
Most games coming out right now – especially third party multiplatform titles – are releasing as cross-gen titles, which, of course, is generally what happens with most releases in any console generation transition. But Dead Space has been confirmed as a next-gen only title (along with a PC version, of course). Apparently, being able to reimagine the original game while leveraging the much more powerful hardware of the PS5 and the Xbox Series X/S was one of the biggest reasons for why development on this remake even started. Of course, we don’t have a Dead Space release date yet, or even a release window, so it’s entirely likely that by the time this comes out, cross-gen releases will have petered out anyhow.
EA Motive has plenty of experience with the Frostbite engine at this point, thanks to their work on Star Wars: Squadrons and the single player campaign of Battlefront 2, and it’s been confirmed that they’re sticking with it for Dead Space. Frostbite as an engine has consistently enabled stunning visual fidelity in games, of course, so it’s exciting to think what this could mean for the sci-fi horror title. And sure, when it comes to Frostbite, many people often immediately grow skeptical, seeing as the engine has been largely responsible for the troubled development of games such as Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda– but Dead Space, which is a linear, cinematic horror game (and definitely not an open-ended RPG), Frostbite seems like an excellent match.
Of course, being more of a reimagining than a straight remake, Dead Space isn’t just going to limit its improvements and enhancements to the surface level stuff- Motive is promising plenty of gameplay improvements as well. While exact details are scant for now, one thing that the developers mentioned in the aforementioned interview with IGN was that the remake is also going to use gameplay elements from Dead Space’s sequels. One example that’s brought up is the zero gravity sections of Dead Space 2, and how those could be potentially be improved upon and implemented in a remake of the first game.
When it comes to Dead Space’s gameplay, the thing that stands out most (and is pretty much the biggest selling point of the series) is the dismemberment- not only is it incredibly cool to pull off and look at, it’s also a crucial gameplay mechanic that your survival often hinges on. That, incidentally, is another area where the Dead Space remake is going to make improvements. Again, there aren’t a lot of details on exactly what those improvements are going to be, but according to the IGN interview, on top of being gorier, dismemberment in the remake is also going to be an even more crucial part of the game’s combat mechanics.
Dead Space’s story is fondly looked back on to this day (that ending is still legendary), but EA Motive isn’t bringing it over as is in the remake. Of course, you can expect the larger story beats to remain the same- but they’re also fleshing it out in a way that connects to the sequels and other cross-media spinoffs and adaptations better. Essentially, they’re putting more meat on the story’s bones, rather than reworking the entire skeleton. Speaking to IGN, creative director Roman Campos-Oriola provided a brief explanation of how EA Motive is approaching story improvements. He said: “There are some improvements that we want to make to that story. And not necessarily improvements because those things were not really working in the original, more improvements because of what came after, and we’re like, ‘Aw man, that’s interesting if we could reference that, or if we could make a link to that.”
Audio design is important in any game, but in particular, it can be a make or break feature in horror games- and to this day, the Dead Space series has some of the best audio design ever in a game. It’s crucial to the experience, and heightens the atmosphere drastically. It follows, then, that this is an area where EA Motive is putting a great deal of its focus on. On top of staying true to the very distinct aural identity of the first game even with the improvements they’re making on top of those classic sound design and effects that Dead Space fans will be very familiar with, the remake is also going to make use of 3D audio.
Again, immersion and horror games go hand-in-hand, and again, Dead Space is one of the best examples of that. Unsurprisingly, EA Motive is well aware of that fact, and the developers have said they’re going to emphasize immersion in Dead Space as much as they possibly can. How exactly, on top of the visual and audio improvements? Well, for starters, thanks to the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S’ SSDs, the game is going to have zero loading screens, and the developers are saying that the entire game is going to be a completely seamless experience from beginning to end. Meanwhile, the original Dead Space was also known for its diegetic UI, and how everything from the map to the upgrades to your health and ammo were all displayed in-universe rather than through menus or meters or what have you- and the remake is going to do that as well.
This is one area where the Dead Space remake is hoping to make significant improvements over the original, rather than taking the excellent foundations of the original and continuing to build on them. Accessibility options often went ignored in games back when Dead Space first came out, but that, thankfully, is no longer the case in the industry- and Motive is determined to put plenty of accessibility options in the remake. Speaking to IGN, Campos-Oriola said, “Something that is also really important for us that was not there 12 years ago is all those options or different ways to play the game if you need it. All those elements of accessibility will definitely be something important for us in terms of opening the Dead Space experience to a broader set of people that didn’t necessarily have the opportunity or could play the game when it came out.”
Remember when EA put microtransactions in Dead Space 3? Yeah, that sucked. Fortunately, it seems like the folks at EA Motive know that. It’s been confirmed that there are going to be no microtransactions in the Dead Space remake. And apparently, it’s also not going to be one of those games that don’t have microtransactions at launch but sneakily add them in later anyway. No, senior producer Phil Ducharme has adamantly told IGN that microtransactions will “never” be added into the game. We’ve seen EA cut out microtransactions entirely from a couple of games in recent years, including Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Motive’s own Star Wars: Squadrons, so it’s good to see that they have the sense to not use that monetization model in a game where it just doesn’t belong.