“Dead Space” Remake Aiming To Stay True
As much as fans of the original “Dead Space” games are keen to check out the remake, they also have long memories.
Visceral Games created the original two critically acclaimed games, hardcore space horror titles and niche games by design instead of wide-appealing action titles.
When it came time to do the third one, EA demanded changes after the four million unit sales of the second weren’t enough. Those changes forced the introduction of co-op play into what is a single-player franchise. They also quickened the pace to a more action-oriented tone and added in micro-transactions.
The resulting work sank the franchise. Reviews were much softer, and sales plummeted with Visceral folding a few years later. Shortly after that, EA famously made global headlines for its practices involving microtransactions due to the “Star Wars: Battlefront II” controversy.
Cut to this week, and “Dead Space” is now getting a ground-up remake by EA’s Motive Studios. Though there is genuine excitement surrounding the news, there’s also wariness and fear as well that EA will once again demand changes or performance sales numbers that the game either should not or can not deliver.
Speaking with IGN, EA Chief Studios Officer Laura Miele confirmed the game will not contain any microtransactions and explains the company is aware that the business model is not fit for every title:
“We want to make games that deliver the experiences our players are looking for. Sometimes that is a single-player story-focused experience, where players can immerse themselves in another world.
Other players want us to show up every day with new content and events in our live services like Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, The Sims, Apex [Legends], and FIFA, to name a few.
We want players to choose an EA game or experience, and that means we need to make the type of games they want to play. Focusing on just one genre or model limits the number of players we can reach.”
EA has shown that they can do a story-driven single-player title without microtransactions as they did with “Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order,” but that was a more wide-appealing action-heavy large property, so we’ll see what happens here.
The decision to make the game available to the new generation of consoles and modern PCs only means the remake is also set to make good use of that advantage – namely superfast SSD load times and zero camera cuts.
The first “Dead Space” was divided into specific chapters with a loading screen between each, but otherwise had very minimal cuts. Creative Director Roman Campos-Oriola confirms that they’re planning to get rid of any of those lingering cuts and turn this into a “God of War” reboot-style single-take experience:
“There’s not going to be any moment where we’re going to cut your experience, where we’re going to cut your camera. You can play it from the start screen to the end credits seamlessly.”
Campos-Oriola says they have all the assets from the original game as the foundation and for reference, but they are doing a ground-up rebuild in the Frostbite engine as opposed to the old late 2000s custom engine of the original, which was built on the bones of a “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” title of all things. So no porting the old assets, no up-rezzing, no adding more polygons to the old models – it’s all modern assets and all newly-shot animation.
In terms of potential improvements, they stay restrained and only implement them when it helps with immersion or atmosphere and occasionally with gameplay. He cites how “Dead Space 2” handles zero gravity compared to the first title as an example of how they are approaching improvements.
The overall goal is to “really stay true to the experience” of playing the original, which is why members of the game’s fanbase have been critical throughout the process of the game’s construction. Senior Producer Phil Ducharme says:
“We don’t want to be in siloed and create our own bubble of the game we’re making. So from the conception, we’ve reached out to community members to create a community council to be a sounding board for what we were making.
Making sure that if we’re deciding to make a change, we want to be able to explain it and get told if, ‘No, what are you doing? What were you thinking? You’re actually breaking the game; why are you changing this?’.
And we’ve received some extremely valid feedback from that group. We’re trying to meet with them on a two, three-week basis to show them content and have that ongoing discussion. And they’ve had access, unfiltered access, to what we’re making from a very early point in production.”
Ducharme confirms raytraced reflections, volumetric effects, fluid simulation for those effects, dynamic lighting and proper 3D audio all come together to beef up the immersion, along with more gory effects.
Story-wise the only changes will be a few references or links to elements within the later games and ancillary media, reinjections of narrative threads that they say have to feel natural instead of seeming like a forced retrofit.
Campos-Oriola also says accessibility is an essential element for this, allowing more players to try the game:
“Something that is also really important for us that was not there 12 years ago… is all those options or different ways to play the game if you need it. All those elements of accessibility will definitely be something important for us in terms of opening the Dead Space experience to a broader set of people that didn’t necessarily have the opportunity or could play the game when it came out.”
The remake of “Dead Space” is still in development and doesn’t have a release date at this time.