At some point, you just have to feel bad for Issac Clarke. His girlfriend’s dead, as are his crew mates. He’s lost his memory and, on occasion, his sanity. He’s crash-landed everywhere. The man even had to stick a surgical needle in his own eye. Add to the fact that secretive government factions and Unitology zealots are on him at every turn, and Issac’s a walking tragedy. Thankfully though, in Dead Space 3, nothing seems to have changed.
Set to release in February 2013, Dead Space 3 shows our fair Clarke being proactive. Backed by returning character Ellie and new kid on the block John Carver, Issac’s decided to take the fight to the source of the necromorph outbreak on the frozen planet Tau Volantis. His run of bad luck takes a turn for the worse, however, and the ship breaks apart mid-entry, separating the group and leaving a wounded Issac to fend for himself. To pack on the emotional weight, the E3 trailer, shows a helpless Ellie ripped from the vessel’s interior in front of Issac’s eyes. It’s a wonder he keeps getting on ships or involving himself with women at all.
Visceral Games has promised the next installment of the survival-horror franchise will up the ante on a variety of fronts. Designer Patrick Lipo’s blog entry on DS3′s website explains that while the game’s setting is considerably more landlocked, the rat-in-a-cage feeling is still a cornerstone of the experience. He explains players will find themselves “flying in zero-G through a graveyard of long-dead vessels, creeping through claustrophobic ship decks, exploring hostile arctic environments, and…discovering whatever is beyond.” Other changes to the game include total Tundra-like whiteouts (snow blindness for those playing at home) and both new and more evolved enemies, necromorph and human alike.
Also setting Dead Space 3 apart from its predecessors is the addition of a drop-in/drop-out co-op mode. The co-op option will give players unique access to areas Clarke can’t visit alone and will give more insight into John Carver—the foul-mouthed, veteran soldier who joins up with Issac to save the world for reasons currently unknown.
A twenty-minute long demo of the game was released earlier this month featuring limited commentary from executive producer Steve Papoutsis. The footage features a double glimpse at the opening sequence to Act II, once in solo mode and once cooperatively. The co-op highlights Carter and Clarke working together to take down a behemoth, spider-like necromorph using a coordinated blend of shoot and Stasis. Yet, despite the heavy attention being given to the co-op sections in press releases and demos, Papoutsis was sure to stress that the game is still as rich and phenomenal when played alone.
The reason behind the co-op, simply put, is that EA’s market research suggested the game was too scary. EA marketing spokesperson Laura Miele told MCV, “We were hearing feedback that [players] love the thriller game, but it was pretty scary, and the obvious next step was that they wanted to play with someone. So we introduced co-op into the game.” Miele goes onto say the horror aspect is still there, and the game is no less frightening, justifying the change.
“Personally, I would rather go to a scary movie with my husband rather than sit at home with the lights out watching one on my own,” she said. “We’re looking for that to reach out to consumers that perhaps were not open to Dead Space 1 and 2.”
Expectantly, those statements have left some fans up in arms, and it’s true that the DS3′s trailer showcases a more action-oriented game. The footage is oddly bereft of the classic blood stains and white noise, radio-crackle seen in the first two games’ trailers. The game format, based on screenshots and other clips, also seems to have shifted. The emphasis on battling paranoia and fear has been replaced with more of a “search and destroy” objective. DS3′s website even lists scavenging for parts for survival as one of the main focuses.
It does seem a bit weird to tone any aspect of the game down. The fear factor is the title’s strongest selling point. Plus, the idea in art is to top yourself, and let’s face it, Dead Space 2 was one hell of a good game. It did justice to the survival-horror genre, one that’s been lacking for a long time.
DS and DS2 brought in big themes: the ghosts we carry with us, the extremes we go to for inner peace, and then there’s that whole eye imagery thing. On the marker. On and off the surgery table. How seeing is truly believing. It would be a shame to take away such great themes, themes that blossom in terrifying and emotionally upsetting spaces, in hopes of growing an already massive fanbase.
Regardless, the days are still early. The only thing to take to the bank is that Dead Space 3 will feature new weapons, new bloodshed, and new characters; all the makings of a hopefully solid continuation.