EA has clearly been getting ready to revive the Dead Space franchise with a new game. All signs point to a reveal and possibly a release date during the EA Play event on July 22, but despite rumours, we still can’t really be sure whether we’ll see a sequel to Dead Space, a reboot, or a straight-up remake. We have decided to take the chance to speculate wildly, and talk about what we would like to see in the revival of EA’s classic survival horror franchise for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
Return to Survival Horror
Much like the franchise that coined the phrase survival horror—Resident Evil—Dead Space started losing more and more of its horror roots the further it got along the franchise. The third game is more-or-less a straight up action game, after all, despite the first two games managing to maintain their strong horror trappings. The new Dead Space, regardless of whether it’s a sequel, a remake, a remaster, or any strange combination of the three, should go back to its roots.
Level design has been getting better and better in video games, and Dead Space, especially the first one, was strongly influenced by a combination of Resident Evil and Metroid Prime, and we’d love to see the new Dead Space going back to those influences. Even better if they manage to bring back the USG Ishimura; that space ship was awesome, and a gigantic, spooky space ship makes for a wonderfully under-represented setting for a horror game (System Shock notwithstanding).
Don’t Mess With the Interface
One of the coolest things about Dead Space has always been its clever use of the interface. Rather than showing us a health bar in a corner of the screen, and the ammo count in another corner, Dead Space elected to feature a diegetic UI—a UI that’s actually part of the in-game world rather than HUD elements specially made for the player. This approach had a couple of effects; not only did it make quite a bit of sense in the game’s setting for these UI elements to be visible on the character itself—mining is a dangerous job and your colleagues should know what you’re up to, after all—it also made the game much more immersive.
Horror is at its best when there’s little in the way of the player and the game, and HUD elements tend to get in the way. Even classics like Resident Evil and Silent Hill would rather show you your health through the pause menu, rather than having an omni-present health bar. The excellent UI in Dead Space is a core part of the franchise’s identity, and the revival should bring the idea back.
Don’t Get Stupid
For some strange reason, video game franchises in the horror genre tend to get stupider as more and more games in the franchise get made. It happened to Resident Evil, it happened to Silent Hill, and it happened to Dead Space. For the revival to work, Dead Space needs to go back to being serious and overbearing, like the first two Dead Space games.
Despite the genre’s hokey nature, horror works best when taken seriously. Dead Space absolutely needs to take itself seriously in its revival, without trying to shoe-horn microtransactions and co-op like Dead Space 3 did. And if EA’s planning for something akin to the Mass Effect Legendary Edition rather than a remake or reboot with Dead Space, Dead Space 3 needs some serious re-tuning to make sense for solo play, especially if they decide to leave the co-op behind.