Dead Space 3 Demo Impressions

My first experience with the Dead Space franchise occurred in 2009. An old housemate of mine convinced me to give the first Dead Space a go, so we sat in our living room, lights off and curtains drawn with only the glow of the TV for a source of light. That evening we explored the nightmare that was the Ishimura, and it was the first time in a long time that a game made me experience genuine fear.

Dead Space 3 takes place in an environment different to Ishimura and Dead Space 2’s Sprawl. This time Isaac Clarke and new character John Carver, who’s playable in co-op, must fight to survive on the planet icy planet Tau Volantis. The planet is a much brighter place, though in some areas that doesn’t help with visibility. At the very beginning of the demo you’ll be walking through a blizzard, barely able to make out anything in front of you.

This blizzard helps set up initial theme of being lost and confused. You’re trying to find your crew mates and you really don’t know what to expect.

[drop]Of course it isn’t too long before you run into the dreaded necromorphs. As with earlier games in the series, the best way to stop them is through limb removal, and you never know where or when they’ll strike.

However, once you’re past the opening it becomes harder to ignore that EA and Visceral have incorporated a lot more action elements in Dead Space 3, and to a point it feels like some of the atmosphere from the previous games has been lost.

Sure, you’ll jump a few times from some scares but I didn’t feel the same fear of the unknown. Part of the problem is that in certain conflicts you can clearly see where enemies were coming from, removing the possibility of them catching you off guard.

Of course, this is only a demo of the early section of the game, so it’s not clear how the rest of the game will feel. It’s perfectly possible that the beginning doesn’t throw as much at you in an effort to draw you in.

The major parts of the demo are well crafted though. The scenery looks great and the snow seems to just build up around you as it falls. The big set pieces are very well executed too. Within the demo you’ll encounter at least three big moments that change the pace of the game; in my opinion the most nerve wracking one involves a giant earth drill, and waves of necromorphs.

Necromorphs won’t be the only enemies Isaac faces this time round either. The game also includes actual human enemies armed with guns and the objective of stopping Isaac. These are Unitologist Soldiers, believers in Unitology and the reason Isaac is in this mess in the first place. You’ll find yourself in a few gun battles but these aren’t predictable fights. If necromorphs appear they will attack the armed opponents, causing the dynamics of the fight to change. Rather than you facing off against the Unitologists or necromorphs, the two sides will start to fight each other as you watch on, giving you a little breathing space.

Some won’t like this inclusion of gun battles but from what I experienced in the demo they were quite enjoyable, though hopefully they won’t be too prominent. If they’re featured too heavily they could take away from what made Dead Space successful in the first place – the struggle of a man against monsters, both emotional ones and those that pursue him.

We had a quick play of the game’s co-op on Friday.

The demo also allows you to experience the co-op aspect of Dead Space 3. It’s exactly the same level as the single player portion, but the addition of John Carver adds an extra layer to the story. With John’s presence you’ll learn more about what’s going on and also experience different scenarios later in the game. If you play just the single player then John will only appear at certain parts of the story as an NPC, instead of accompanying Isaac through the madness.

I played the online co-op a couple of times to get a feel for it and I believe it’s pretty well done. The levels do get slightly harder to accommodate the presence of a partner, although working as a team didn’t feel crucial to succeed. However, knowing someone was there with you helped in certain scenarios.

Overall the demo shows off the potential of the gameplay Dead Space 3 will contain but there is the lingering question of whether it’ll be as unnerving as previous entries. The co-op works well and the fact it actually adds to the story instead of being a gimmick really makes that side of the game potentially interesting.

The demo will be publicly released this week.



  1. I wish the coop was also possible in split screen mode…

  2. This Dead Space fanboy doesn’t care about the action over survivor-horror, just give me Dead Space – can’t wait! From what I’ve seen some of the set piece and weather conditions look fantastic, can’t wait to try the demo tomorrow.

    As well as the location of the Ishimura in the first game, I suspect partly why it seemed more “scary” because was because it was a new IP and we didn’t know what to expect so much; although that’s not to say the series hasn’t been developed into a more action game, just saying. Dead Space 2 wasn’t meant to be the a carbon copy, it was never going to be since it was in the less isolated Sprawl.

  3. I’m starting to think that Co-Op is all this game has going for it. Dead Space was awesome because it was new and had some refreshing approaches to survival horror. I played it for the first time last weekend and played the whole game because I couldn’t stop. Then I moved on to 2 and it isn’t so attractive. More predictable than anything. The story doesn’t help either, I mean, why can’t humans get it in to their heads a marker is a bad thing…

    I’ll wait and see on this game before looking disapointed and saying “origin”. :P

  4. Downloading this tonight to check out the co-op. I’m fairly sure it will be terrible as a Dead Space game (its impossible to make a co-op game scary imo) but it might still be a fun little action game worth picking up when it hits £10 or so.

    • I disagree. I think it’s very possible. Are horror movies less scary if there is more than one person trapped in a scary situation?
      If you play with someone online you are still the only one sitting at home in the dark and if a necromorph jumps at you then it’s just as scary as it would be if you were playing it solo.
      I think even split screen coop would work. I know my friend and I would probably piss ourselves everytime something jumps at us. It would simply be a bigger mess to clean up afterwards… ; )

      • Well generally I think it is because there is someone ‘living’ there alongside you in the game that makes it less scary or intimidating. Dark Souls’ Co-Op makes for some good action and gameplay but when you are juggling a lantern and sword down some pitch black caves, or ornstein and smough are tearing up the environment hunting you down then there is more tension alone than with a friend.

        If the Co-Op sees both players being split up at times, or taking some teamwork-based objectives where one has to help another from a distance then things may work out. But again such features means it is not single player orientated.

        Of course Single player in mind, I suppose alone we still have an AI soldier there.

      • There’s no AI companion in the single player from what I played. John Carver only appears accompanying Isaac in the co op. During the single player Isaac is by himself for most of it.

  5. Felt everything about the original added up to make something different, since then EA have manoeuvred it to be something more ordinary.

    I really don’t like the direction EA have taken things and they won’t be receiving any of my money.

  6. Dead space 1 was awesome in every way. 2 was nothing like it and fear that 3 will be even weaker. Bargain binning this one I’m afraid.

    • Me too. Loved Dead Space & finished it twice, played Dead Space 2 for a couple of hours & haven’t returned 2 it yet.

  7. I absolutely loved Dead space (I have platinumed it twice), I was very excited about 2 and it wasnt as good. I think the fact that the original was so different and all of the production values were fantastic, it was such a surprise.

    I was looking forward to playing 3, but the demo has kind of put me off. The weapon crafting system looks as though it could be confusing, especially if you havent played any of the other games. The melee system is still too limited and inaccurate (this was one of the things I thought that they could have improved slightly, to be more flexible and offer more options). The snow could be annoying as well, one thing I found puzzling was that when I was walking it seemed to be a struggle, yet when I aimed my weapon I suddenly could walk much faster. This seemed a bit strange, maybe the focus on shooting made my legs work better and more efficiently.

    I would say that I would try and rent it, but my back log on games at the moment is horrendous and I just dont have the time. So I will give it a few months and then hopefully be able to buy it cheap. I did hope that this would be more along the lines of the first, but it doesnt seem so and I have a bad feeling that things wont change for any future Dead Space games.

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