With the rumors circulating about a remake of the first Dead Space game, fans of the series are excited for the potential future of the franchise. Given that Dead Space 3’s final DLC ended on something of a cliff-hanger before the series’ eventual cancelation, any news surrounding a revival was bound to turn some heads. Rumored to be announced at this month’s EA Play Live, the game is reportedly a remake, not a remaster or additional entry in the series.
Recently, game remakes have seen something of a change in definition. Many remakes over the last few years have felt more like “reimaginings” than beat-for-beat remakes, with games like Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Metroid: Samus Return, and Resident Evil 2 and 3 Remake paving the way for old games to be updated for modern sensibilities. Hopefully, the Dead Space remake is more along the lines of this style, one that’s familiar to fans of the original, but not just rehashing the same ideas from 2008.
Originally, Dead Space was heavily inspired by Resident Evil 4, with those inspirations being proudly worn in just about every aspect of the game. Now with the potential for a Dead Space remake being just on the horizon, the series is looking to Resident Evil for inspiration again, this time from Resident Evil 2 Remake. It’s unclear exactly what inspirations Dead Space will take from Resident Evil 2, but with the critical and commercial success of the game, it would make sense that EA Motive would look to the series once more.
Dead Space’s Character Motivations and Writing
While Dead Space’s story was pretty cookie cutter when boiled down to “man searches for girlfriend in peril,” the series as a whole is full of memorable characters and moments, particularly revolving around protagonist Isaac Clarke and his relationship with Nicole. A problem that EA Motive might run into when remaking the first game, however, is that Isaac doesn’t actually speak until Dead Space 2. He was a silent protagonist for the entirety of the first game, which might not lend itself well to a remake now that audiences know what Isaac sounds like and expect him to talk when he’s on screen. Luckily, Capcom was able to test the waters in terms of changing character details in Resident Evil 2 Remake.
For RE2R, most of the main cast went through some sort of editing or change for the final release. Despite being classic characters from the series, Leon, Claire, and Ada all had a few changes made to make them more serviceable for the story that Capcom wanted to tell with the remake. Even though their motivations might differ from their original counterparts, potentially altering the future canon, most fans of the originals welcomed the changes because they brought new story beats along with them. If EA Motive is looking to make similar changes to the main cast of Dead Space by either altering their motivations or doing something a bit more noticeable like giving Isaac a voice, it seems like fans might be receptive as long as the changes work with the story presented by the remake.
Giving Isaac a voice might alter some other elements of the game’s plot, so if it’s revealed that he’ll be fully voiced, fans can expect even more changes from there, particularly with Isaac and Nicole’s relationship as the original feels a little one-sided. As Isaac hallucinates interactions with her, he would be able to actually respond the way he does in Dead Space 2. Similar to Resident Evil 2 Remake, fleshing out Isaac’s character in Dead Space might contradict what may come in the original game’s sequels, but if it works for the story EA Motive is trying to tell, hopefully, the changes will go over as well as they did with the Resident Evil fanbase.
Reducing the Necromorph Variants in the Dead Space Remake
One of the most iconic parts about Dead Space is the horrific alien zombies that are the Necromorphs. Screaming and bloody, the zombies are memorable for their character design alone, but Dead Space’s unique way of fighting with them by cutting off their limbs helps the Necromorphs stand out from the endless crowd of video-game monsters. There are a lot of different kinds of Necromorphs throughout the Dead Space series, to the point where there may be too many. Although the temptation to cram the game full of every Necromorph variant introduced from the entire series might be there, it might do the remake some good to scale things back a little bit.
Yes, not knowing what’s around the corner is a scary feeling that certain horror games build their entire identity around, but towards the end of the Dead Space series, that feeling changed from not knowing what’s around the corner to not knowing what Necromorph variant is about to fling itself at Isaac. Resident Evil 2 Remake remedied this problem well by scaling back the known universe of zombie variants introduced in the series and focusing on making a few key enemies as scary as they can be. The game even cut a number of enemies from the original game to make this point. While some fans might have been disappointed by the remake’s lack of giant spiders, crows, and Licker variants, the enemies included in RE2R are the scariest that zombies have ever been.
It’s clear that Capcom really focused on making the monsters in the remake as scary as possible by scaling back the number of zombie variants. Dead Space could benefit from this as well by reducing its hoards of Necromorphs some to tailor the experience more. That’s not to say that the game should cut a lot, maybe just the enemies that prove to be more of an annoyance than a threat like the Infector or the Swarmers.
Changing the Layout of the USG Ishimura
The cold, dark halls of the USG Ishimura, the mining ship that Dead Space is set on, are a familiar place to many fans. Part of why it’s so memorable comes from the fact that Isaac revisits the planet-cracker in Dead Space 2, further cementing it in the minds of the community. A similarly iconic and memorable location from the Resident Evil franchise is the Racoon City police department that Leon and Claire find themselves trapped in during Resident Evil 2. A few changes were made to the layout of RCPD headquarters that made it so fans of the original Resident Evil 2 had some familiarity, but were still uneasy about what was behind each door. It would do nothing but benefit the Dead Space remake to take a similar approach to the Ishimura’s layout.
Remaking a game is tricky task because the studio usually wants to do right by the original game, but also needs to change things up in a way that makes it feel fresh and new. Because Dead Space is a horror game, the sense of dread and unease of being in an unfamiliar environment is paramount to the experience but could be ruined if the player knows exactly where to go and what’s in each room. That’s why the “similar but different” method that RE2R took with RCPD worked so well and resonated with fans of the series new and old.
Due to the lack of official announcements, it’s not certain that a Dead Space remake is even in the works, despite the many signs pointing to its existence. If it is in development, EA Motive should learn from Resident Evil 2 Remake to make a horror experience that’s welcoming to fans of the Dead Space series new and old. The line between too familiar and not familiar enough is a thin one when it comes to remakes, so hopefully the studio can ride it and create a title worthy of the Dead Space name.