I love video games of all genres. I’ll play anything at least once. It doesn’t always need to be artsy or deep as long as it’s fun and entertaining. I don’t discriminate – I’ll play games made for mature audiences and games made for the casual crowd. But I have to confess something: I have a hard time playing a game when it comes to the survival horror genre in particular. It’s not that I think they’re bad games… they just freak me out. I never understood the entertainment value of sitting in front of the television with a controller in hand, choosing to scare yourself.
I’ve only beaten two games that falls into this genre – Resident Evil 2 and Silent Hill 4: The Room – but I’ve started countless of them and never finished any. The first was Resident Evil (which was handed to me by a friend in school in ’96, never spoke to him again) and I’ve also tried my hand at the first Silent Hill and a few others like the Clock Tower, Fatal Frame, F.E.A.R., Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (one of my favorite games I’ve never beaten). The genre has a lot of quality games, I just can’t seem to get into them much, until recently…
The critically acclaimed Dead Space. I’ve heard plenty of good things about this series. I was ready to give it a chance and I can safely say that I don’t regret it one bit. Before I started playing the game, I set out two goals for myself and those were to try and beat a chapter a day and only play it when the sun has set. What was the point of playing a survival horror game in broad daylight? I’m four chapters in and there are parts in the game that freaked me out – one particular incident involving a large tentacle-looking thing made me react vocally.
Dead Space is really well-made and made well to scare. The timing of what sounds should play when, or when certain events should occur, and what certain monsters should appear when is top notch. When you think you’re used to a particular event and think you know a monster will jump out at you from a particular vent, it won’t happen and that makes you feel more tense. When you finally see a monster ahead of you and you think you know how it’ll come at you, it just won’t and when you think you’re safe, you’re just not. You feel isolated in the game, you feel as though there’s no one left alive on the ship and you know there’s no help coming on the way because you’re so far out in space. Having a human companion who could help you shoot and kill things would chip away at that feeling of intensity and lack of security you feel as you make your way through the poorly-lit corridors of the USG Ishimura.
The power of consoles in this generation shines through with a game like Dead Space. which was released four years ago in 2008. Four-year old games on past consoles usually don’t age well. Dead Space would still look good if it was released in the past year. Never underestimate the power of sound – I can’t stress enough on the fact that if you’re a serious gamer, invest in a nice surround sound system, it adds a whole other depth to the video games you experience. The Japanese were known for putting out great survival horror games in the past, but this franchise by EA tops every one of those games (except maybe for Silent Hill). The pacing of Dead Space is set so that the game doesn’t drag and each chapter builds momentum to the next. You know something will go wrong, but you’ll never figure out what it is until it happens and that’s the magic of Dead Space.
So if you haven’t played it yet, Dead Space is available on Xbox 360, PS3 & even the PC. You can find spin-offs for your Wii & your iOS devices.