When Dead Space 3 came out, my first impressions were, for me, too bleak to comprehend. This was a franchise that held such a strong nostalgic imprint in my mind, that the idea that the latest entry could actually be just average was impossible. So I stopped playing, it was better to feign ignorance than actually confront the reality that the series was possibly losing steam.
But like so many Necromorphs, Dead Space 3 slithered and hacked its way into my subconscious where it hung like a grim effigy reminding me that I betrayed one of my most beloved series. So, when the opportunity to review this third installment came along, half to ease my guilt and half out of curiosity, I took it.
After getting over the hump that sent me packing originally and actually finishing the game, the final impression of Dead Space 3 is largely as I remember it — a daring action title that lacks much of the true sci-fi horror present in previous iterations.
It’s a brutal cycle for trilogies. Without the first round being absolutely stellar, there wouldn’t be a sequel let alone a third installment. This naturally means that until the end of time sequels, prequels and everything in between will be held to the same standard as the original.
The spectre that was the brilliance of Dead Space hovers over Dead Space 3 throughout every inch of this game. Across the bold set pieces and new co-op elements, the memories of my first time among the Ishimura’s dark, nightmarish corridors poisoned everything that could be potentially cool in third game.
The beauty of the franchise resided within one key element — isolation. The horrors of Dead Space were that much more, well, horrifying because you were alone and lost in the worst place conceivable. Dead Space 3 throws out that convention for a new co-op element that, while understandably necessary in this age of cooperative gameplay, still removes the ever present fear these games should evoke.
A lack of terror aside, the game handles beautifully with solid mechanics and weapon customization elements that will have you spending hours fine tuning the best ways to hack, burn and eviscerate. Co-op also shines in this game as killing hordes of creeping monstrosities with a pal is admittedly fun as shit.
Dead Space 3 is a solid action title, and that’s its biggest problem. Slap Army of Two skins on everything and the two games would be more or less the same. We play this franchise to feel stressed out and not like a badass action hero or a savior. Dead Space 3 will keep you interested if you’re looking for a polished action game, but if you’re looking for that creeping sensation crawling up your spine, look elsewhere; there’s nothing to fear here.