When EA announced it was remaking Dead Space, it wasn’t really clear what “remake” meant. Would the company be completely rebooting the beloved space horror series? Or would it be more like a remaster that upgraded the original’s 13-year-old graphics for the Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, and modern PCs? Star Wars: Squadrons studio EA Motive offered a little bit more detail in interviews. But it was still hard to gauge what the remake was supposed to accomplish — since compared to remakes of ’90s games like System Shock, where designers are updating limited graphics and unfamiliar control schemes, Dead Space still feels eminently playable today.
Now, the Dead Space remake’s developers have helped fill in some of the gaps. Motive held a livestreamed Twitch session with members of the studio’s creative team, showing off extremely early footage demonstrating how the gameplay and level design could work. (We still don’t have a release date.) It confirmed a few things that will set the new game apart — but won’t necessarily transform it.
ISAAC CLARKE WILL TALK, AND HE’S GETTING A FAMILIAR VOICE ACTOR
The original Dead Space starred engineer Isaac Clarke as a silent protagonist, but in the games since then, he’s been distinctively voiced by actor Gunner Wright. Today, Wright appeared on EA’s livestream to confirm that he’s coming back for the remake, too.
Wright’s return makes the Dead Space remake sound more like a retroactive continuation of the original series, not a total reimagining of the franchise. EA also clarified that apparently Isaac will follow the same rules for speaking as a polite Victorian child.
DISMEMBERMENT IS GOING TO BE MORE COMPLICATED
As my Polygon colleague Joshua Rivera details, simulated limb severing technology has advanced substantially since 2008. The livestream featured some very early renderings of the game’s necromorphs, and they seem affected by weapons in more detailed and convincing (these are still space knife zombies getting shot with plasma, so I won’t say “realistic”) ways.
The new system includes limbs whose flesh gets stripped off as you shoot them, helping you gauge how much damage you’ve done. It’s got weak points that feel more organic than the original game’s big glowing joints. It’s got more variety in how a given weapon affects a given necromorph.
Dead Space’s weapons were already more varied than they sometimes get credit for. (If you go through the original game and especially the sequel with just the plasma cutter, you’re legitimately missing out.) But the remake is clearly putting effort into meaningfully rebuilding them.
ZERO GRAVITY ACTUALLY LETS YOU FLOAT
The livestream’s generally scant in-game footage confirmed one substantial change: Dead Space’s remake will let you float in zero gravity (like you can in the game’s sequels), rather than having to leap between surfaces with your boots otherwise anchored to the “ground.”
Like Dead Space’s original weapons, its zero-G controls arguably get an unfairly bad rap. The levels are designed around jumping, and it’s weirdly satisfying to bounce from wall to wall. But adding free motion is a pretty natural tweak for the remake.
THERE ARE NO MICROTRANSACTIONS
Did we already know EA isn’t bringing the widely hated microtransactions of Dead Space 3 into the Dead Space remake? Yes. Was it nice to hear Motive’s developers emphatically repeat that promise today? Obviously.
A LORE INFUSION IS COMING
Motive and EA previously hinted that they’d build out Dead Space’s story, and today, they gave more specifics about what that might mean. “We are not going to change the foundation of the story, because that story is really iconic,” said creative director Roman Campos-Oriola. “The things we want to enrich in terms of story or narrative, it’s really about the bigger universe of Dead Space. We want to have more ties with what came after, whether it’s the books, whether it’s the anime, whether it’s Dead Space 2, we want to put the original in a better way inside that broader universe.”
That can apparently be done subtly through the environment, but some additions might be “a bit more,” says Campos-Oriola. Dead Space became an extremely lore-heavy series across three main games and a host of tie-in media, and the Dead Space remake sounds like it will spend more time acknowledging that lore than changing it. The team didn’t discuss the game’s most beloved Easter egg, but after the livestream, it feels safe to say there’s always Peng.
THE GAME AIMS TO FLESH OUT ITS SIDE CHARACTERS
The Dead Space remake also aims to provide more depth to the characters around Isaac, including Nicole Brennan, the girlfriend that he spends the game looking for. As Campos-Oriola puts it, “we want to give you the means to actually look for her, and more than look for her, learn what happened to her during the outbreak.” That might imply that Dead Space’s remake will involve a little more active player agency than the highly linear original, or maybe it’s just acknowledging that the original storyline does seem to periodically forget Nicole exists.
All the details above are still fairly vague. Motive showed off the remake in ways that highlighted its unfinished-ness, like putting enemies on a stage of untextured blocks, and a lot of the changes were just discussed theoretically. And it remains frustrating to see a new Dead Space game after EA unceremoniously shut down the series’ original studio Visceral Games. But for now, at least it’s becoming easier to tell what the remake’s creators are aiming at — whether or not they pull it off.