Dead Space Remake: Why It Is More Important Than You Think

Video games remakes are a sore topic for a lot of old gamers. But they are important for the new audience and younger generation to experience the art with better presentation and controls. They are also a good way to preserve video games by improving an already great game, but this usually doesn’t come at a cheap cost. Before going any further we need to clarify the difference between a remaster and a remake. Remaster is just a resolution upscale with same or better frame rates. The source code remains the same and minimal effort is required as executing the source code on new hardware is a piece of cake for the developers. Remakes, as the name implies, involve creating the whole game from scratch. This includes all the assets, cutscene, voice acting and even the game engine. Most remakes take almost the same amount of effort as new IPs or sequels and are usually priced equally. While the purists believe that remakes cut the cost of a story and are provided with an already laid foundation, so they must not be charged the same and should offer some benefits to the original owners. Companies believe remakes cost almost the same as a brand new game and should be priced as much.

All of these talks re-emerged with the announcement of Dead Space Remake back in 2021. Hailed as one of the greatest horror games of all time, Dead Space is not only a fan favourite but is loved by the critics equally. It spawned two sequels. Dead Space 2 is one of the best sequels in the history of sequels (our opinion). So, Dead Space Remake’s announcement raised a lot of concern among die-hard fans as the remake was handled by a new studio, Motive. The original team and developers moved to a whole new project called Callisto Protocol and it turned out to be a major commercial and critical failure.

Courtesy: EA/Motive

The biggest and the most valid concern regarding the remake was the availability of the original and how it holds up today. Surprisingly, the original game holds perfectly great and is still available for a variety of modern machines, including Xbox and PC. The game can be purchased on both machines pretty easily or can be accessed via EA play. The game can be played at 4k resolution with unlocked frame rates on PC and has recently been added to the list of enhanced games on Series X with auto HDR (unfortunately, no fps boost). This makes the remake even less appealing when compared to other remakes like Shadow of the Colossus and Demon’s Souls. The former was released for PS2 with abysmal performance. It was later remastered for PS3 with better resolution and performance but the game remained stuck on those machines because PS3 games are practically impossible to emulate on newer hardware and can’t be played natively via backwards compatibility. The original PS2 game is extremely difficult to emulate, so it never appeared on PS4 or PS5 via Sony’s official backwards compatibility program. Bluepoint games created the remake from scratch while staying true to the original source material. Instead of adding new bosses, they worked on improving the game and bringing it up to today’s standards. The remake is considered to be better than the original and one of the best ways to experience a masterpiece.

Courtesy: Digital Foundry

This is the exact same case with Demon’s Souls Remake. The game was stuck on aging hardware with poor frame rates and visual quality. Demon’s Souls might be revolutionary for its time being, but to revisit it today is very tedious and a chore. Sony once again hired Bluepoint games to remake an all-time classic and they didn’t disappoint again. BP games created the whole adventure faithfully with a new engine and enhanced performance. The game not only looks amazing, but it also plays like a charm. It is one of the highlights of PS5 and considered a true next gen experience.

Courtesy: Digital Foundry

This brings us back to the topic at hand. What makes the Dead Space remake so compelling? Dead Space Remake is a result of passion and love for the original product. Motive Studios went beyond what was actually possible with a faithful remake and recreated something special for both the fans and newcomers alike. From a brand new engine to extra gory dismemberment animations, skin peeling in layers to additional content, much better guns and combat to a new secret ending, Dead Space Remake is a gift that just keeps on giving. The story of the game is basically the same with an Engineer, Isaac Clarke, looking for his wife aboard a planet cracker known as USG Ishimura. The new feature here is the addition of voice acting for the main character, unlike the original game where Isaac Clarke was a silent protagonist. A main character without a voice in a third person story-driven action/adventure game doesn’t make sense and Motive Studios has successfully managed to rectify the issue by giving Isaac Clarke a voice and a much better personality this time around.

The changes don’t end here. The game has been faithfully recreated in the Frostbite engine (EA in house engine developed by DICE) with new textures and modern technologies. Dead Space Remake has one of the best lighting in any game ever. Period. The game uses PS5 controller to its full potential and gunplay has been improved by a lot. So is the character movement. The game runs at a much higher resolution than the original one and has 60fps on consoles with unlocked frame rates on PC (the game ran extremely well on PC during our testing and compiled shaders in the beginning to avoid stutters).

Courtesy: Digital Foundry

The most welcome addition to the remake is the additional content. The game offers a lot of side missions that offer insight into what happened to Isaac’s wife, Nicole. There is also a secret ending that can only be achieved by finishing the game on New Game+. You need to collect marker fragments scattered across Ishimura to get the secret ending. This adds a lot of replay value to an already meaty campaign. Staying on the topic of gameplay, Motive has improved one of the worst sections of the original game. A mission where you have to shoot down asteroids. That mission is still a nightmare to go through on consoles due to poor analogue stick sensitivity. The whole section has been expanded and remade from scratch in an otherwise faithful remake. And it is one of the best sequences I have ever come across in terms of scope and tension.

Screenshot depicting difference between two versions

Another major feature of the remake is Intensity Director. The game has dynamic placement of enemies and their behaviour towards player. The game dynamically decides when and how many enemies will attack the player and in which manner. Some enemies will track and follow you even to newer areas and sometimes you will get a breather before an onslaught of enemies. This ensures no playthrough is the same. This is the biggest game changer and should be implemented in every horror game. This turns an already horror game into a nerve wrecking experience (and in a good way). This is not only limited to enemies. According to Motive Studios “dynamically adjusts what shows up in Isaac’s path, from Necromorph spawns and how they choose to attack them, to environmental effects such as light, smoke, particles and sound.”

Nostalgia is a drug and remakes are here to stay because of the demand. Creating a faithful remake without hurting the original fan base is a Herculean task. Bluepoint games have managed to do it in a manner that has forced Sony to acquire them for their future remake projects (Bloodborne please). Motive Studios has proved that if you are passionate about something, you can actually manage to remake a classic in a way which not only is good but surpasses the original in every way possible. Whether you are a fan of the original or not, this remake is a must play. 70$ is an extremely steep price for a remake, but this game is the exception and deserves it. The amount of upgrades and wealth of content it offers over the original is astounding. Dead Space Remake should be a new gold standard for remakes going forward. If price is the problem, you can check the game out via EA play (trial) on consoles and EA play pro on PC (full version). We will love to hear your feedback on the article and whether you are interested in checking out the game or not. Please let us know what you think about remakes and the industry in the comments.


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Usman Zafar
Usman Zafar
As someone who plays across all platforms he can get his hands on, Usman loves to push the boundaries of what is possible on current and previous gen hardware. This means he is your go-to guy for emulating retro and current gen content packaged as a single force for a more democratic video game industry.
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