Resident Evil 2 Remake vs Dead Space Remake – Who Did Survival Horror Better?

Two stellar survival horror remakes- but which one comes out on top?

Posted By | On 02nd, Feb. 2023

Resident Evil 2 Remake vs Dead Space Remake – Who Did Survival Horror Better?

2019’s Resident Evil 2 and 2023’s Dead Space– two excellent games that rank among the best survival horror games ever made, and the best remakes ever made. Of course, it’s no secret that if not for the stupendous success of RE2Dead Space (and a great many other games) would not have been greenlit by its publisher in the first place- but when it comes to quality, both stand on a roughly equal footing.

But is there one that has a leg up over the other? Both are the new standard bearers for survival horror games and for remakes, but are both truly precisely neck and neck, or does one manage to eke out a victory in this battle of the giants? Here, we’ll be going over several aspects of both games before ultimately trying to answer that very question.

COMBAT

As over-the-shoulder third person horror shooters, Resident Evil 2 and Dead Space obviously share a lot of the same DNA, and both are excellent at what they set out to do. RE2 takes a rather straightforward approach in its combat, but it nails the fundamentals and executes them to perfection. It boasts a solid arsenal of weapons that’s universally fun to use, it demands that players make smart use of the tools at their disposal, and it’s not afraid to push back against the players with one challenging obstacle after another, from regular zombies and plant zombies to Lickers and, of course, Mr. X. Mastery in RE2 demands an immaculate blend of dexterity with your aiming, being able to think on your feet, and above all else, not panicking.

Then we have Dead Space, which takes all of those elements and cranks them up to eleven. Necromorphs are frighteningly aggressive and tough as nails, and the variety of enemies that you come across throughout the game ensures that the challenge level is constantly climbing upward. Where weapons are concerned, one might argue that given how overpowered the Plasma Cutter can feel, other tools in your inventory end up feeling a bit devalued- though the remake makes plenty of improvements on this fronts, and the likes of the Force Gun, the Ripper, and the flamethrower, for instance, are a blast to use. Meanwhile, abilities like kinesis and and stasis and making use of your environment injects a great deal of strategy to the proceedings as well. To top it all off, we have Dead Space’s central dismemberment mechanic, which, above all else, elevates the game to another level.

Where combat is concerned, then, as great as Resident Evil 2 is, it’s hard not to crown Dead Space as the winner.

EXPLORATION AND LEVEL DESIGN

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This, on the other hand, is a category where we feel Resident Evil 2 has the upper hand. Again, both games have excellent level design, and exploration in both remains engaging from beginning to end, but Resident Evil 2 has that special sauce here, just as Dead Space does in the combat.

Don’t me wrong, the Ishimura is, without a doubt, one of the best and most iconic settings in a survival horror game to date. A lot of that is down to the fact that it’s got an incredible sense of place and is absolutely dripping with atmosphere (more on that in a bit), but just as much credit goes to just how well designed it is. As the game starts off, not a lot of the map is accessible, but as you go progress through the story, you slowly unlocking more paths, shortcuts, and decks, all of which is set within a single seamless map in the remake. Thanks to that level design and how rewarding exploration feels, moving through the Ishimura is always a nightmarish pleasure.

Resident Evil 2, however, has that classic Resident Evil lock-and-key design that gives the experience that extra Metroidvania oomph. Yes, Dead Space has a little bit of that as well, thanks to its interconnected paths and areas, and especially thanks to its new security clearance system, but it’s not as pronounced or as ingeniously used as it is in RE2. The RPD building, the sewers, NEST- every single area in the game boasts stellar level design, and the rewards you get for exploring almost always feel very significant.

ATMOSPHERE AND HORROR

Dead Space Remake_02

Dead Space has frequently been called one of the scariest and most tense horror games ever made, and it’s hard to disagree with that notion. Make no mistake, Resident Evil 2 is more than capable of getting your heart rate up, but in this category, Dead Space is just on another level. A lot of that is down to the fact that the Necromorphs are, by and large, much more threatening and terrifying enemies than most of what RE2 throws at you. Meanwhile, the claustrophobic environments of the crumbling, decaying Ishimura also feel way more hostile in a way that never lets up, where the RPD building, for example, loses a little bit of its threatening aura by the time you’ve spent a few hours in it.

The Dead Space remake also feels way more unpredictable. You’re never quite sure what new horrors you’re face around the next corner, or if you’ll suddenly get jumped by a Necromorph breaking out of a vent right behind you. This is a game that also likes to mess with the player on a psychological level, and that’s inherently a way more effective form of fear than the traditional (but effective) scares that Resident Evil games tend to champion. Dead Space’s Intensity Director also contributes to that significantly, to the extent that even when you’re going through areas that you’ve been through before, you can never tell if you’ll get attacked by something. There’s no such thing as “clearing a room” in Dead Space.

Of course, special mention goes to Mr. X, who remains one of the most terrifying stalker enemies in a horror game, and ramps up Resident Evil 2’s horror elements by several degrees. Even so, Dead Space can constantly keep you on edge the way very few games have ever managed, which makes it very hard to look past it in this category.

VISUALS AND AUDIO DESIGN

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If one were to make a list of the best-looking games of the modern era, it’s fair to assume that both Dead Space and Resident Evil 2 would rank very, very high on that list. There’s very little to separate both games in this area- both look stunning, both are characterized by a ridiculous, almost obsessive attention to detail, and both maintain an impressive level of visual fidelity from start to finish. And yes, both are also horrifically gory to a delightfully over-the-top degree.

When it comes to art design, which of the two you prefer really boils down to personal preferences- Dead Space has a very distinct sci-fi aesthetic that it uses excellently, and the game does, of course, deserve special praise for its incredible diegetic UI as well. It probably also gains an edge over Resident Evil 2 when you look at some of the finer details, like its usage of volumetric fog and how much that contributes to the atmosphere, or its incredible lighting- though RE2 is no slouch when it comes to the latter either.

Sound design is another area where both games are incredibly strong. Whether it’s the thumping footsteps of Mr. X or the creepy whispers in Isaac’s head, the roaring blast of Leon’s shotgun or the sudden banging noises in the Ishimura’s vents to make you jump our of your skin, both games boast incredible audio design that works overtime to heighten the tension.

It really is neck and neck. This one’s gotta be a tie.

NARRATIVE

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This is probably the easiest category to pick a winner in. Resident Evil 2 has many strengths, several of which we’ve spoken of here, but its story doesn’t rank high on that list. It’s not lackluster in this department by any means, and right until its credits roll, it does a decent enough job of keeping you engaged and sufficiently invested in the narrative- but the most that can be said about RE2’s story is that it’s effective and serviceable- at best, if you’re feeling generous, you could call it solid (though of course, feel free to tell us if you disagree).

On the other hand, we have Dead Space, which tells an unequivocally incredible story. Yes, that final twist is one that’s seared into our brains at this point, and for good reason, but there’s plenty else to keep you engrossed as well. The mystery of the Necromorphs and their origins, the conspiracies and secrets surrounding the Marker, the conflicts between factions like the Unitologists and EarthGov, the many backstories of the unfortunate souls who died on the Ishimura. The remake takes all of this and makes it even better, by adding bits and pieces of lore, changing and improving scenes, fleshing out characters, and giving Isaac an actual personality (and voice), contrary to how he was portrayed in the original game.

Dead Space is an easy winner here.

SO WHO COMES OUT ON TOP?

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If you’ve been keeping track, we’ve crowned Dead Space the winner in three categories, Resident Evil 2 in one, and declared a tie in one. Yes, Dead Space comes out on top- but the margins are very fine here. Dead Space and Resident Evil 2 are both heavyweights of their genre, there’s absolutely no doubting that. Both are prime examples of how to make an excellent survival horror game, and in very different ways, both are also excellent remakes- with Dead Space being much more faithful to the original and RE2 changing things in much more radical fashion.

Even if Dead Space is marginally better than Resident Evil 2 in some regards, you can’t really go wrong with either of these two. If you enjoy horror games, both are at the absolute peak of the genre and capture its biggest strengths better than almost any other game has ever managed to do. Will Capcom’s series be able to gain back its edge with the upcoming Resident Evil 4 remake? We certainly hope so, because if it manages to do that and surpasses even the two horror masterpieces we’ve spoken about here, it’s going to be, to say the very least, an outstanding game.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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