the Andrew Bailey

Dead Space 3

I kinda knew that Dead Space 3 wouldn't totally disgust me like the last 2. It has far more of an action game vibe going on instead of a horror one. While almost none of the puzzles in this game revolve around broken equipment, there's still too much snot on the walls. It's pretty clear that these alien marker things don't make good things happen, but religious zealot cultists don't see it that way. We once again join Issac Clarke in his grim dark future.

Screenshot of Dead Space 3 combat

I acquired this game in an EA Humble Bundle years ago, not too long after Dead Space 3 came out (which was 2013, just after I ended my Mass Effect binge). In fact, I remember the director confronting questions of why there are microtransactions in this full price game. He tried to claim that an entire generation has grown up with microtransactions and didn't know anything else. What ivory tower did he and his friends live in? In 2021, you might get away with saying that, but not in 2013. Have games evolved such that easy mode is throwing more money at it? Am I the old man shouting at the neighborhood kids to get off my server?

As for the game itself, it's more of an action game with horror elements. It has crafting, but not quite an open world. In Dead Space tradition, you kill the zombies by targeting the limbs. Sometimes, that doesn't work, and an entire shotgun clip (~12 rounds) point blank merely knocks enemies backwards, only to get back up again. I had to check that I was playing Dead Space 3, not Max Payne 3 (a contemporary). The game mixes it up a bit by sometimes throwing human enemies at you, who go down fast with headshots.

Shooting requires you to look down the weapon sights, otherwise attacking whacks your gun's butt. Like the last games, kinesis and stasis abilities return. Kinesis is like the gravity gun from Half-Life 2, and in the later levels, there are pads that increase kinesis effects. I didn't use it much, but in retrospect, I should have binded it to one of my mouse's thumb buttons. Stasis is bullet time, but for enemies. Don't forget to stomp your enemies to bits, or you risk them resurrecting, but you also get some ammo pickups for your trouble! I don't think you can jump in the previous Dead Spaces, but you certainly can't here, unless you're going up or down a cliff.

The first thing that annoyed me when playing this game was the interface. In most PC games, the activate button is F, which has produced memes. However, most things in this game activate with E, and pressing F cancels the action (or engages kinesis). I ended up acti-activaeting things several times. There is a boss fight where you pull the boss apart with harpoon guns. I sprung the trap, pressed F, which causes a cutscene. I stop pressing F, and start shooting at it, but it wasn't effective. I did that several times, still nothing. It turns out that you need to keep pressing F, despite there being no prompt to do so. Every other time you need to keep pressing a button, there's a prompt, but not there.

The game generally hides its loading times behind small two door rooms and with elevators. Yeah, we've all seen that trick before, and some of those elevators were long enough to give me Mass Effect flashbacks, except there's no team banter here. It was long enough for me to observe that half the time, the up or down indicator on the elevator panel did not align with the lighting animation on my character. If you're going down in an elevator, lights from outside will come from the floor and slide towards the ceiling, but half the time it would do the opposite, and vice-versa with going up.

Screenshot of space in Dead Space 3

The in-game inventory and journal menus are holograms projected near your character. The way to navigate around them is unclear. I move my mouse, but that moves the camera. I use WSAD, but that moves my character. Arrow keys? Are you kidding? In addition, the very fact that inventory is limited sucks. It means that you need to consciously pick up everything, including ammo and health packs. (Why would you not do so if not for limited inventory space?) The awkwardness of the electrical engineering minigame is insane: you need to navigate two items around a maze, one is controlled via keyboard, the other via mouse. It's also on a timer, so that's another layer on the hate cake.

Level design is OK. The first three-quarters of the game is the usual rusty and snotty hallways reminiscent of the series. The last quarter or so is running around an archeological dig site, complete with stone walls and doors, with some inexplicable zero-G areas. The thing that bothers me the most is that you can't fall off cliffs. I guess every cliff edge in the future, even ones on dead alien planets, have invisible walls.

There was one part early on where there were two immortal regenerating enemies coming at me. I had already run out of ammo and died about 10 times at the same spot, and no matter what I tried, nothing was working. (I was ready to call the entire game a wash and move on.) Fine Dead Space, if you want to be cheap, then so will I: easy mode it is.

After looking beyond its faults, I had a good time with Dead Space 3. There are obvious prompts for co-op, and in fact, several level areas that are co-op only. But since I don't multiplay or have lame friends that randomly play 8 year old games, I couldn't do any.

SPOILERS: I wish more games had the courage to kill their protagonists, not at the beginning of their games, but at the end. There is DLC for this, but EA, by definition, doesn't make games likable enough for me to buy DLC for them.

Posted under Gaming. 0 complaints.