EA and Motive Studio have already staked their claim on the potential Game of the Year award with the release of the Dead Space remake. Re-exploring the rust covered hallways and mechanical ducts of the USG Ishimura is just as tense and as exciting as it was almost fifteen years ago, while the mechanics of taking down Necromorphs with the Plasma Cutter still feels unique and satisfying.
Because of the excellent quality of Motive’s work on the Dead Space remake, many have begun to proclaim Dead Space as the greatest horror game remake of all time, and while Dead Space is certainly deserving of many plaudits, it feels hard to justify Dead Space as the all-time greatest remake ever. It’s fantastic, offering players a compelling and worthwhile refresh of the original’s formula, but Dead Space (2023) doesn’t do quite enough to earn the title of best remake.
Many remakes of classic games include plenty of sweeping changes, but the additions to Dead Space feel more like quality of life or storytelling updates to help make the game more fun to play in 2023, or to add more to the backstories of every character in the game. Perhaps the biggest overall change was to do with the structure of the ship itself, which helped make the Dead Space remake feel a lot more fluid in comparison to the original.
In the first version of Dead Space, each section of the Ishimura had its own chapter, with players using the tram network to go to each section. Backtracking and exploring for new items wasn’t a thing in that version of Dead Space, but in the remake, players can explore the whole ship as they progress through the game, heading back to other sections for additional power nodes, audio logs and more. It feels like a relatively small change, but it’s one that makes Dead Space’s story, and subsequently Isaac’s journey, feel much more epic, as you see the full journey along with him.
Still, Dead Space’s is incredibly faithful to the energy, gameplay and design of the original release, meaning it doesn’t quite push the boat out in terms of what a remake could do with a property like Dead Space. To be clear, I don’t think the Dead Space remake needed to be too different from the original in the first place. Since the series was cancelled by EA, fans have been clamouring for a return to those halcyon days of the original Dead Space trilogy, so a no-frills, “everything you loved with a bit more thrown in for good measure” remake is exactly what the doctor ordered.
What stops Dead Space from becoming the best remake ever is time, more than anything else. The original game launched in 2008, when third person action-horror hybrid had really begun to hit their stride, thanks to games like Resident Evil 4, a game that’s also receiving a remake next month, but will still suffer similar criticism. As much as you can improve on certain aspects of the game, turning a third-person shooter into a third-person shooter isn’t the biggest change in the world.
If anything, it’s hard to be the best remake when Resident Evil 2 exists, which fundamentally overhauled the core design, gameplay and even story of the original release. The sheer differences between the two versions are enormous, to the point where fans of the classic RE2 would have been well within their rights to hate the remake. However, Resident Evil 2’s remake managed to appeal to both series veterans, and newcomers too, inspiring Capcom to make the now forthcoming RE4 remake.
When compared to other video game remakes, Dead Space (2023) isn’t the most groundbreaking game ever made, but as mentioned, it didn’t need to be. It wasn’t designed to be the best horror remake ever, it was only supposed to be the best version of Dead Space 1, and it succeeds in that goal tremendously. Hopefully, this is now the proof Motive, and more specifically EA, need to make more Dead Space games in the future.
A remake of that eye surgery scene from Dead Space 2? Yeah, sign us up.
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