The Dead Space 3 demo released last week was my initial firsthand experience with the franchise. This reality is not a direct result of disinterest, either. To be blunt, I can’t stand being scared. Horror films are frightening enough — a form of entertainment I also actively avoid — though there’s something extra terrifying about adding interactivity into the mix, taking a character into a situation where all sorts of nightmares await in the shadows to strike with a simultaneous spike in the no-longer-silent music. If given the option, I’ll go with smiles, sunshine, and cuddles before ever setting foot into video game darkness.
Unfortunately, that darkness draws me in.
To those doubting my sincerity, consider that I only “survived” a Slender playthrough because I knew it would all end in a quick instant or two. Consider that I still couldn’t take more than ten minutes of Resident Evil 4 in a well-lit room on a 13″ TV surrounded by three friends. Consider that my greatest prior exposure to Dead Space comes from a series of YouTube Let’s Plays I started watching shortly after the launch of the original, only to shut them off forever when my bite-sized bravery eventually left me.
But the darkness attracts, always holding my interests tight despite that fact that it shouldn’t. Compelled by an undying drive, I want to enjoy Dead Space like so many others … which is why I must warn you, Internet, for the impending bit of blasphemy heading your way. I’m about to compliment EA. Beware.
In my eyes, Dead Space 3’s new direction does it right. When compared to the first two — from what I can tell with my limited experience, at least — the latest Dead Space entry dials back the survival horror aspects and fills that area with action-oriented gameplay. For series die-hards, such a statement is obscene, an injustice imposed upon a beloved framework. Tinkering with what isn’t broken, if you will. I have heard these cries, fans declaring EA is dumbing down Dead Space 3 to expand its audience. After playing that demo, they don’t seem to be wrong.
Yet at the same time, I’m adoring what EA did.
For once, I can finally get into Dead Space. No longer will I be forced to linger away with my lack of courage, missing out on what many are expecting to be a spectacular game because I can’t control my fragile mental state. This Dead Space is still freaky, mind you, its rushing monsters, reanimated and mutated corpses, and aggressive aliens all intact and guaranteed to make most of you jump. It’s scary, but no longer survival horror scary. No longer scary enough to exclude. Terribly tense, yet stopping short of inducing heart attacks upon the weak — like me.
The snowy environment creates an ambiance that is just as isolating as it was to MacReady over 30 years ago in the Antarctic. However, exchanging the eternal darkness of creaky spaceship monster closets was enough to finally reel me in without a personal, constant urge to quit and crawl into bed. You may continue to spew hatred toward EA, but this would have been just another Dead Space experience for me — and many others, I imagine — to ignore if not for this new approach that broadens the appeal. I never thought I’d say it, yet today Electronic Arts receives my seal of approval.
Just don’t mention the in-game microtransactions.