Like many people, I’m excited about Motive Studio’s remake of Dead Space. The fact that it’s releasing so early in the year, especially when there are games like Resident Evil 4’s remake, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty out in the coming months, feels amazing.
Based on Visceral Games’ (then EA Redwood Shores) 2008 survival horror title, the remake offers completely revamped environments with incredible atmospherics and details. Sure, Isaac Clarke’s face change may take some getting used to. However, the new elements, from the enhanced Zero-G gameplay and new sound FX to the Intensity Director with its random events and the Peeling system for enhanced realism when killing enemies, look great.
The fact that the development team are big fans of the series, and integrating so many interesting elements without disturbing the core of the experience, is also great.
And yet, there is some trepidation about the future of the franchise. When Dead Space launches this month, it will be important in several ways. It may attract a significant new following, eager to see what made the original so good. It could cater to those hungry for a stellar sci-fi survival horror, especially after the dismal launch of The Callisto Protocol.
It could also fail in both of these departments. After all, despite glowing previews for the original Dead Space, sales were slow in the early going. Though it eventually sold one million copies about four months after launch, it was looked upon as a disappointment initially. Which wasn’t that big of a deal in the long run – Dead Space 2 was greenlit and shipped nearly two million units in its first week. Resident Evil meets Metroid and Event Horizon may have been a hard sell at first, but it ultimately paid off (until Dead Space 3, of course).
It’s a different era, though, and predicting the direction that Electronic Arts could take is hard. It’s known to put franchises on ice if they don’t meet expectations (see Mass Effect, after Mass Effect Andromeda’s underwhelming performance). When The Callisto Protocol launched, I viewed it and the Dead Space remake launching close together as beneficial to both.
However, it’s sadly ironic that the former’s disappointing release could affect the latter. Maybe people are wary about jumping into another sci-fi survival horror, especially since the co-creator’s newest title wasn’t that great. Time will tell.
On top of all this is the marketing for Dead Space lately. Don’t get me wrong – the developer livestreams have been great, and there’s been a good amount of gameplay footage. However, compared to the media blitz of The Callisto Protocol – which had the Helix Station podcast, daily reveals, live-action trailers, and so on – the publicity for Dead Space has been rather tame.
You’d think this wouldn’t be a concern but look at Need for Speed Unbound. It debuted in the UK with 64 percent fewer sales than its predecessor, Need for Speed Heat. Sales only dropped further on. Though part of the tenth biggest video game IP in the UK, its lack of marketing was blamed for the low sales. Even post-launch, Electronic Arts has been relatively quiet on future updates (aside from the departure of five Criterion veterans from the studio).
There’s the hope that news on Dead Space will pick up now that the publisher and development team are back from the holidays. It wouldn’t be strange if EA is banking on nostalgia carrying the release forward, but in this day and age, it may not be enough. 2019’s Resident Evil 2 reportedly served as an inspiration, but it received a substantial amount of marketing before release. It shouldn’t even be a question with EA’s considerable resources, but that’s probably not how it looks at some of its titles.
Of course, there’s another case to consider: Dead Space’s success. Assuming the remake does well enough that there’s an overwhelming demand for more, the question is: Where does EA go from there? Do they develop remakes for Dead Space 2 and 3? Would it be possible, given that Motive is working on Marvel’s Iron Man? Would a different studio be brought on, or would the publisher not risk it? With Dead Space 2’s increased size and scale, how much more extensive would the remake have to be to surpass it?
Then there’s Dead Space 3. Microtransactions may have been the major issue, but several core changes caused it to deviate from the previous games, making it much less appealing. Will EA overhaul many of those elements and revamp the game to be even scarier, in keeping with its predecessors?
Will it keep it the same while removing the more annoying features? Again, it’s hard to say, but the lack of major changes will likely not be received well. Also, given Dead Space 3’s status as the game that effectively killed the franchise, many may be wary about playing the remake for whatever reason.
There’s also the question of Dead Space’s long-term future. Let’s say the remake goes above and beyond expectations, selling millions of copies. Does the publisher greenlight the next two remakes and go home happy? Or does it revive the franchise and continue it, finally releasing a brand new Dead Space? It’s something fans have asked for years, and demand could very well drive them to do it. Then again, it may opt for the safe approach and continue remaking the other games before taking any major risks.
I feel a sequel is long overdue. Even before a remake was announced, Dead Space always stood as an incredible universe with endless potential for horror and mystery. There’s still so much unknown about the Necromorphs and Unitology, the broken-down futuristic technology and the state of humanity. The series has always taken place from the perspective of Isaac Clarke, but in essence, it’s a human story, examining the things that make us scared, doubtful or determined for what’s to come.
Even if the end of Dead Space 3 left a lot to be desired, there’s still enough humanity left in the universe to make it worth continuing. Maybe the sequel could take place several years later with a new protagonist, telling a new story while bringing back the Necromorphs.
Or it could feature an older Isaac that seeks to end the threat once and for all. They could even have the entire universe infected by the Necromorphs, save for a small system of isolated civilizations that uses primitive weapons to fight back. There are many interesting directions and potentially unique gameplay scenarios to craft while maintaining the series’ penchant for survival horror.
That’s perhaps the most worrying part about any potential future that Dead Space could have. Despite their ups and downs, Resident Evil and Silent Hill are iconic franchises for Capcom and Konami. It’s unknown if EA looks at Dead Space the same way and is thus willing to commit to a vision, even if it means reinventing the wheel and pushing the series forward in a big way.
The Dead Space remake launches on January 27th for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. Here’s hoping it makes enough impact to warrant a longer-term plan for the franchise and a potential sequel somewhere down the line.
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.