Dead Space was one of the most successful trilogies of the last console generation. The terrifying story of Isaac Clarke’s battle against an alien virus and the vicious necromorphs, the series topped sales charts and earned itself an army of fans. The final game, Dead Space 3, was released in 2013, before developer Visceral Games moved on to other projects.
However, Visceral’s general manager Steve Papoutsis recently spoke about the franchise that made the studio’s name. Papoutsis said that the developer would love to revisit Dead Space and the Marker universe at some point in the future. Publisher EA has also refused to rule out a return to the franchise, with Patrick Soderlund stating that Dead Space is certainly not dead.
A chance to play another Dead Space game is certainly enticing, but given the lackluster response to Dead Space 3, a few tweaks may be required to make Dead Space 4 a triumphant return for the series. Here is our list of the 5 things we want to see in Dead Space 4.
A Return to Horror
One of the chief complaints about Dead Space 3 was that it felt like too much of a departure from the original game. Many survival horror elements had disappeared, with Isaac Clarke spending large amounts of time fighting against enemies using cover-based shooter mechanics. Gone were the scares of Dead Space, and the underlying dread that followed every moment spent on the Ishigura.
It’s often said that horror games have become less popular, but at the moment the genre seems to be bucking gaming trends. PC gaming has seen a boom in survival horror titles, particularly from indie horror developers, while the success of Alien: Isolation shows that there is certainly still a place at the top table for horror games.
If anything, EA’s diminishing returns with Dead Space should show the publisher that moving the franchise towards an action focus caused a loss in sales. The publisher was disappointed in the sales figures for Dead Space 3, after setting high commercial expectations. A return to what made the franchise great could rekindle financial success rather than continue the series’ slump.
Close Quarters Environments
So far, Dead Space players have visited a monster-filled mining ship, a space station on the brink of collapse and an ice world abandoned by all but the necromorphs. Most Dead Space fans can agree that the most effective locations in the series so far have had one thing in common: a claustrophobic environment.
Part of the threat of the original Dead Space was the lack of safe, open areas, as players were forced through low-ceilinged corridors and maze-like tunnels. There was no sense of escape: even if the player made it to a ‘safe area’ there was still a chance that a necromorph could come crawling out of a vent.
Better yet, even if the player was able to reach an open environment, they were still stuck within a spacecraft. The only respite felt from the Ishimura was when the player went outside of the ship and into an entirely new set of zero gravity dangers. The tension was nearly relentless, and a huge part of what made Dead Space such a terrifying horror experience. Regardless of where Dead Space 4 may be set, Visceral would do well to return to close quarters spaces.
Bring Back the Psychological Horror
One of the best things about Dead Space 2 was the unnerving idea that Isaac’s mind was slowly deteriorating. Isaac was subjected to nightmarish hallucinations, giving players the impression that reality was now beyond the game’s hero. The idea seemed less of a factor in Dead Space 3, aside from the story DLC pack Dead Space 3: Awakened, but it is something that created a lot of tension during Isaac’s fight for survival on the Sprawl.
This could be brought back with real creativity in Dead Space 4, alongside the returning scares of pop-up hallucinations and twisted apparitions. Isaac’s disintegrating mind could lead to interesting new enemies, taking on forms more disturbing than the corporeal necromorphs. There could, for instance, be a boss character that only appears during Isaac’s hallucinatory periods.
Losing to this boss could have no immediate consequence, but using a system similar to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s nemesis system, the hallucinatory boss could stalk Isaac throughout the game. The boss could form strategies and even adapt its physical form to copy the enemies that cause the player the most trouble – and deaths – during the playthrough. This could eventually culminate in a final showdown with a boss made up of all of Isaac’s biggest challenges.
Page 2: What About Those Markers?