The Dead Space
franchise is back with a third instalment and ready to scare the pants off you once again. The newest entry in the series sees familiar protagonist, Isaac Clarke, hit the frozen planet called Tau Volantis in a bid to stop the Necromorph scourge for good. However, as we know all too well by now, Clarke has a friend this time around in the form of Sergeant John Carver.
Co-op is the elephant in the room when it comes to discussing Dead Space 3, but does it belong? It has certainly been the talking point since E3 and its initial reveal, but Visceral Games is keen to drill home the point that co-op is an addition to the Dead Space experience. Co-op is designed to be drop-in and drop-out so that players can join whenever it suits them to. Rather than simply providing another body to throw in the way of Necromorphs or lay down a barrage of firepower, Carver opens up new experiences, storyline elements and pathways. As we saw in the playthrough, where Clarke simply sees a door if he is venturing alone, Carver is plagued by visions and is drawn to these new areas to discover more. There are occasions where the player seeing the world over Carver’s shoulder enters a nightmarish realm and is frozen to the spot from Clarke’s point of view. The two characters, at times, have completely separate experiences with Carver’s taking a darker perspective.
So does that mean that Clarke is going to be the sane character of the piece? Well, that’s a worrying prospect if true. The two have their fair share of issues, but Carver’s hallucinations are genuinely worrying and creepy at times. Of course, they kick in at the worst possible times leaving Clarke to deal with the oncoming swarm of Necromorphs, while Carver battles his inner demons. It’s interesting that Dead Space 3 takes this approach and refreshing that players will actually have slightly different experiences rather than a different player model to look at.
The Dead Space franchise has attempted to scare the pants off players in the past, so the natural fear is that this impact will be reduced by the sheer presence of co-op. To an extent, this is true. If one player leads the charge through new areas, they are more likely to get their fair share of jumpy moments. Players also may be growing accustomed to the enemies that we have seen in the franchise before, but Visceral Games looks to have a few tricks up its sleeve. We were shown the Twitcher, which is appropriately named. It moves quickly, slices and dices, and is a worrying prospect, especially when more than one appears. Luckily, players are equipped with some familiar mechanics from games gone by. The stasis proves to be quite effective against Twitchers, assuming you can hit them that is, and the plasma cutter is close at hand to remove those pesky limbs. There are moments like this where the extra firepower certainly comes in handy, but we can’t help but feel that the fear factor will be reduced. On the other hand, we are hoping that the psychological element will bring an unfamiliar scare or two of its own.
One new feature, although unlikely to provide any shocks of its own unless it drags back a rare item, is the scavenger bot. This new toy can be deployed at deposits of resources and will find various bits and pieces that could come in handy. Players will be able to get access to these resources when they get to a workbench. This makes the aspect of looting far more streamlined and keeps players moving forward; a much more appealing prospect than hunting down boxes for their precious cargo. Players will be able to craft their weaponry, and new items, to their liking and will be able to share resources, items and weaponry with their co-op partner.
Co-op is a new direction for the series, but at least it is presented as an optional extra rather than being forced to drag around an AI counterpart. From what we saw, the fear factor is reduced a little especially if you’re dragging your heels and letting your partner lead the way. However, as in previous Dead Space titles, you need to be aware of your surroundings so if you let yourself get too complacent you’re likely to find yourself skewered by some nasty piece of work. The dementia element has been ramped up, but we’re hoping that Isaac Clarke’s playthrough won’t be a walk in the park by comparison as a result. After all, he has his own issues that he hasn’t quite dealt with, but then again how could he when he is surrounded by so much horror.Dead Space 3 will make its venture into new territory, although you can play in a more traditional manner, on February 5th, 2013 in North America and February 8th, 2013 in Europe.