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Dead Space 3 Preview – The Icy Horrors of Tau Volantis

Let’s face it – being in a mining ship has never been scarier or more traumatizing than it was in Dead Space. One can’t help but feel deep, unparalleled sympathy for poor Isaac Clarke, the unlucky engineer who got stuck in a terribly long-lasting skirmish with the hideously deformed undead.

This fight for survival against horrifying evil spanned two games, until we got news of Dead Space 3 in works, and the feeling of excitement existed mutually with the sympathetic one for Isaac. The poor fellow has been through a lot, but as a hero of a game series that focuses more or less on scares, survival, cultism, and science-fiction artifacts, he has to carry on, for our sake.

Isaac will have to suffer once again, as he makes yet another gruesome and full-of-necromorphs journey in yet a new, unknown location. Adventure isn’t quite the word to describe what he will face, as the case has always been, but perhaps it comes closest to what can be described new about this next Dead Space installment.

Linearity could both be called an issue and a fun trait of the first two Dead Space games, but it’s always nice to have options in-hand. Heck, it’s fabulously horrifying to have options in-hand in a horror game – options that could all potentially end with you screaming in terror and Isaac being shredded into pieces by some unspeakable horror.

This time around, such options will be available. The linearity will be retained in the primary sense, as the main objectives will always be set, but you’ll have the liberty to explore alternatives that may or may not be necessary in progressing further in the game. These unique beta missions will have their own quality, and quite possibly their own surprises that you may wish you had never unveiled when you do.

These optional missions, along with every other main mission, will take place in an inhospitable planet known as Tau Volantis. The events of Dead Space 3 begin just after a few months of Dead Space 2. Having the luck that Isaac does, his ship crashes on this harsh frozen rock, only to find himself unwillingly disunited from his Dead Space 2 companion Ellie.

Thankfully, the fellow has his trusty Ripper and what-not makeshift weapons with him – he seems to have understood the pattern of his horrors. Immediately, Isaac is unwelcomingly hinted that he’s not alone on this icy world, and his encounters with the terrifying necromorphs starts.

The trend of necromorph slaying is reiterated right from the beginning, and we obviously expect to it to go till the end. The real question the real horror enthusiasts will be asking though is if Dead Space 3 makes mistakes in being as authentic as the original one.

Some gamers might disagree, but the second installment did slightly fall short in the overall scare-and-shock magnitude when compared to the first (save for a few locations), and took a more Hollywood-ized direction of story-telling and experience.

It seems to have become a trait of modern games to do so, but the reason why the original Dead Space was so loved was because of how good it was in nearly giving people heart-attacks. Perhaps playing games like Amnesia and Haunted House have hardened my nerves, but that would be a plausible explanation only if other gamers weren’t complaining about the same issue.

We’re given a hint of the more shooter-styled and less scary-styled approach in Dead Space 3 almost immediately. While it may be one that would encourage some, it definitely won’t impress those looking for some authentic scares.

Co-op Mode also seems to suggest so, as the second player controls John Carver, another fancifully suited-up dude who seems to have found himself sharing Isaac’s bad luck. While co-op is always fun, horror games are best played alone for the experience.

Sure, you could have a second play-through with a buddy, but one can’t help but wonder how otherwise co-op and horror meet together. Hopefully, the fact that Carver is a sociopath will be something to keep even co-op scary and unpredictable.

Dead Space 3 Carver

Nevertheless, the thrill and challenge of combat, along with the ever-so-creative enemy designs and mechanisms seems not to have tired out.

We still have the satisfyingly brutal dismembering techniques at hand; they feel powerful and worthwhile just like before, whether you’re using the trusty old Cutter, the brutal Ripper, or the all-important Pulse Rifle.

We can expect to see some classic enemies to appear, the standard necromorphs and their deadly dark variants, but it’s obvious that the newer enemies will be of most interest. One of the expected many new necromorphs is the hideous Fodder, a unique necromorph that seems to have adapted to the ways of its prey.

This Fodder enemy tends to transform its form and unleash additional abominations, depending upon how it is attacked. If Isaac decides to chop its upper torso off, it grows tendrils near its spines to attack the engineer. If Isaac opts for one of its legs instead, it frees out various execrating spider-looking horrors.

Ammo drops seem to be more plentiful this time around as well. We can’t take that either as a good thing or a bad one, because factually spoken the relatively low drop-rate added to the anxiety for survival – it’s always been a trait of horror games (Resident Evil, for example) to give limited ammo, and it’s a trait that has existed for a very understandable reason.

But what pressure ammo drop-rate will fail to add will hopefully be compensated by the environment, which, according to developers, isn’t just for sight-seeing. It’s not exactly known when or how it will affect Isaac and his boundary-less survival objective, but it’s being promised to be having the effects that one would expect such conditions to have.

Perhaps players will have to keep track of Isaac’s body temperature when venturing in the unsheltered sub-zero regions. We do bet the fancy engineering suit will have to play a vital role in that, similar to the way things were when taking a walk in vacuum in previous Dead Space games.

A February 2013 release obviously indicates there is still plenty of work remaining in Dead Space 3. But from the hints that have come to view, my excitement for the game has become considerably weak. I absolutely loved Dead Space 1, and didn’t quite mind Dead Space 2, though there were certainly issues with it. The only worry about Dead Space 3 is whether or not it succeeds to bring something new and original to the otherwise commendable series.

If Dead Space 3 lacks the scares and environment that the original possessed, and sways to the shooter side instead of maintaining the classic horror-survival aspect, we can expect ourselves to be disappointed.

On the contrary, if Dead Space 3 manages to give us the creeps and the shocks that we want, and also succeeds in bringing something new and lovable to the series, then it could possibly become the finest of the three games.

The harsh environment and need of survival is still present, and it’s a perfect setting for any horror game. But the real question is whether or not Visceral Games will be able to take that and make something spectacularly horrifying yet enjoyable out of it. Only time will tell.