Dead Space review: The grim fantastic

Having perhaps looked enviously at the stellar response to Resident Evil 2 a few years ago, EA announced its own top-tier horror remake in the form of Dead Space.

It’s proved a smart play, too – this is a remake every bit as detailed and impressive as Capcom’s – except it’s built with new-gen consoles in mind, so can push things even further visually. That makes for a truly superb horror experience that might just have resurrected a franchise.

Dead Space character floating in space


Dead Space

Editor’s Choice


This stunning remake renews a brilliant horror adventure and manages to feel like one of the freshest games we’ve played in ages.


  • Looks unbelievable
  • Astounding sound
  • Properly scary
  • New moments for familiar fans


  • Some weapons more fun than others

Not quite alone in space

Dead Space opens with a tried-and-true science fiction trope (one recycled just a couple of months ago by the much less illustrious The Callisto Protocol) – a ship full of engineers approaching a ship in distress.

The destination is a mining rig, the USG Ishimura, one the original game made into an icon. This remake maintains its layout and its look and feels while making it drip with significantly more menace, smoke and gore.

Our player character, Isaac Clarke, is quickly forced to navigate through and around the Ishimura in the hopes of fixing it up and locating crew that might have survived the explosion of zombification that has enveloped the ship.

In the original, this was a journey that was pocked by voice diaries and radio contact but rarely with face-to-face help from others, something that’s been re-tuned so that you have a few more friendly faces to encounter this time out.

It’s a great change that epitomises the approach Motive Studio has taken to Dead Space – it’s reverential to the original, but not if faithfulness would inhibit modern storytelling or character-building.

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This makes for story beats and (in particular) deaths that feel more meaningful rather than just spikes of gore, and works really well.

The biggest story change, in fact, is that Isaac is now fully voiced instead of a silent protagonist, a tweak that we weren’t sure about ahead of playing. Again, we think it’s a win – unless you played the original recently, you won’t find it out of place when Isaac freaks out about obviously freaky stuff happening, and it makes him way less of a personality void.

Remakes like this are interesting from a plot perspective – Dead Space’s tale of cultism and alien influence feels less unique now, but that’s largely because it hugely popularised its tropes (in gaming, at least) in a way that’s been aped ever since.

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Still, the way it stitches its revelations together builds a sense of momentum and dread that’s really effectively delivered throughout, so it aces any story test.

Cut along the dotted line

Another of Dead Space’s innovations that has become more widely adopted since its release is the idea that a character might wield a non-traditional weapon.

In Isaac’s case, this means primarily that you’re armed in Dead Space with laser cutters and mining tools refitted to devastate the gangly, knuckly zombie-aliens that plague the Ishimura. You do pretty quickly get a more typical pulse rifle, but it’ll quickly become obvious that it’s less precise.

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Your whole game is to shoot these aliens through their bony, spurred limbs, crippling them and preventing them from overrunning you, and this makes shooting way more engaging than a simple run-and-gun system.

Isaac isn’t a trained soldier, so moving around isn’t always the quickest, but new animations and control updates make for an experience that is wildly better than the original’s tanky movement.

There’s also been a significant expansion to how joined-up the ship is – its layout is more trackable in real space, letting you move around more freely and learn it without nearly as many loading screens or gated areas.

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This plays into a whole bunch more zero-gravity. This was something that was lightly featured in the original outside of sections that saw you jumping from wall to wall occasionally, but is loud and proud in this remake, discombobulating and engaging.


While its pacing and plotline are closely tied to the original Dead Space, it’s hard to overstate the success of this remake’s graphical overhaul.

The USG Ishimura was always a pretty scary place but it now oozes malice, with every room dripping in bloody echoes of the disaster that unfolded in it.

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Blood drips from walls, bodies crowd the corners, computer screens flicker into life and it all looks just amazing on PS5 and Xbox Series X.

The sound design, meanwhile, is also a huge cut above most games, with echoing sound that travels through rooms to give you horrifying previews of what’s to come if you’re listening closely.

A monster bursting from a vent will alert you to its presence, but just as often others will sneak up on you almost entirely silently, ensuring that you have to keep your head on a swivel at all times.

Everything you need to know about Dead Space: Release date, trailer and more photo 4

There’s an early moment where you hear a booming echoing metallic knock get louder and louder as you go through a u-shaped corridor, and while it’s a scare that was in the first game, that new sound engine makes it one of the most memorable gaming experiences of the last couple of years, for our money.

That’s an experience that basically plays out in micro the whole time you’re playing – everything sounds and looks simply horrifying, with astounding lighting and fabulously dark moments.

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Things are also obviously really gory but there’s something slightly more restrained about that gore compared to The Callisto Protocol, as absurd as that might sound in grosser moments.


We want more – it’s that simple. Dead Space’s remake is astoundingly impressive, leaving us desperate to experience its sequels with similar new-gen upgrades.

The sound design and lighting are at the very cutting edge of what you can get right now, and its superb structure and pacing are just as excellent in 2023 as they were on release.

This is a horror game of the highest order, with oodles of scares, an intriguing story and plenty of action to enjoy, so if you’re remotely interested in being frightened you should pick it up for sure.