The bones of the Dead Space remake may be over 15 years old, but you wouldn’t know that from playing it – its survival horror is thoroughly modern thanks to clever design tweaks, high-fidelity art, and smart use of the PS5’s controller.
Smartly retooled gameplay and story
Great graphics and performance
Addictive combat and gameplay loop
Few new scares for returning fans
Why you can trust TechRadar
Time played: 15 hours
It’s been 15 years since we first walked the metal corridors of the USG Ishimura, a mining ship once built to crack planets into pieces, now overwhelmed by hellish creatures. If you return to the original Dead Space, you’ll find it’s held up less well than its sequels. Its controls are clunky, its color palette muddy, and its combat fiddly. In an era of remakes and remasters, Dead Space is one of the few that justifies it. A classic of the genre, that is ripe to find a new audience.
Once again, you step into the heavy boots of engineer Isaac Clarke and search the decks of the derelict Ishimura, looking for answers and the missing crew, your girlfriend among them.
EA Motive has faithfully rebuilt Isaac Clarke’s survival horror adventure for a new audience, giving it far more than a graphical facelift. This isn’t a remaster, after all, but a remake. The developer has redesigned sections of the game and made use of all the technology modern consoles can bring to bear – the haptics and adaptive triggers of the PS5’s DualSense controller, in particular – and it breathes new life into this old adventure.
Depending on how much exploration you do aboard the USG Ishimura, you can expect the experience of Dead Space to last anywhere from 12 to 25 hours. That’s about the right length, given the intensity of the action. If you’re a returning fan, you may not be scared by the Necromorphs in their various forms. For me, it was like greeting old friends, and it rekindled my love for the series.
Dead Space price and release date
- What is it? A ground-up remake of the original Dead Space
- Release date: Out now
- Price: $69.99 / £69.99 / AU$109.95
- What can I play it on? PS5, Xbox Series X | S, PC
While the story of Dead Space remains broadly the same in the remake, a significant change is that Clarke is now a fully-voiced protagonist, instead of his previous mute self. Gunner Wright, returning from Dead Space 2 and Dead Space 3, does a masterful job of bringing urgency to the situation. He only speaks when in conversation with his crew or other people he meets aboard the ship, so you don’t have to worry about him making jokes or talking to himself.
EA Motive hasn’t been beholden to the original game’s design, making transformative changes for the better. Some of the first game’s more frustrating moments have been retooled, to become more enjoyable, while still challenging. This is helped by the new zero-gravity flight controls, retrofitted from Dead Space 2. Boss fights, like your battle with the Leviathan, a gaping maw armed with grabbing tentacles, are still tough, but your new freedom of movement gives you finer control to dodge attacks. It’s not that the fight is easier, but you have more responsibility for your failures. If the Leviathan grabs you, it feels like your fault for not getting out of the way, not a failure of the fiddly controls like in the original game.
New mechanics spice up the established formula, such as circuit breakers and security gate doors, which give you a way to modify encounters. Circuit breakers let you kill the lights in an area to power up a lift or doors a set of doors you need to get to your objective, heightening the tension by forcing you to fight blind, in other moments, you can turn off the life support, keeping the lights on but meaning you’re running on limited time.
It’s a small inclusion, but it means that you’re often thrown into desperate struggles instead of just gingerly walking down a hallway or doing some light puzzle-solving. The security ratings are locked behind levels of clearance from level 1 and up, which grant you access to everything from secret doors hiding goodies to extra side missions, chests, and schematics. They’re a great incentive for backtracking or replaying the story again in New Game+.
In the Dead Space remake, your old guns have new weight, thanks to the smart use of the DualSense controller and a redesigned dismemberment system. Each weapon feels radically different through the PS5’s gamepad, and seeing the impact of your shots, blasting off Necromorph limbs lands much more effectively than in the original.
It also helps that the Dead Space remake runs incredibly well on PS5, too. You’ve got your choice between the performance mode that runs the game in 1440p, that’s enabled by default, and the ray tracing mode, which makes Dead Space run at 30fps but features jaw-dropping visuals in 4K. I spent the majority of my time with the game with ray tracing enabled to check out the gorgeous lighting and real-time reflections, but later favored performance mode for the fully-fledged 60fps when the combat encounters wrapped up near the finish line in those last few chapters.
Dead Space works as a self-contained story for first-time players, but there’s so much more lore added for those returning fans like myself that strengthens its connection to the sequels.
The future is looking bright for the Dead Space series, and, hopefully, the success of this remake will mean that Dead Space 2 could receive the same treatment, or even possibly a Dead Space 4 later down the line. All I know is that 2023 is shaping up to be an amazing year for the genre, especially with Silent Hill 2 and Resident Evil 4 set to receive similar treatment in the months to follow.
Aleksha McLoughlin is the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming and oversees all hardware coverage for the site. She looks after buying guides, writes hardware reviews, news, and features as well as manages the hardware team. Before joining TRG she was the Hardware Editor for sister publication GamesRadar+ and she has also been PC Guide's Hardware Specialist. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of Trusted Reviews, The Metro, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.