Demo Reel: Dead Space 3
Back in 2008, Dead Space was a brand new IP from Visceral games, and it brought back survival horror in a big way. A sequel followed in 2011, taking the scale and scope to an entirely different level (one where I couldn’t complete it) while staying true to the roots of the first game. Changes are abundant for this third outing of the series, to alleviate fears a demo will be heading to your platform of choice – right here however you can get my impressions of going hands on with this demo early.
Opening up this hour long taster of the game you’re informed that Isaac Clarke has crash landed on the winter wasteland planet of Tau Volantis, his crew is missing and as we know by now, Isaac is sure to be followed by a parade of Necromorphs. If you weren’t thinking that there were similarities between the location of Dead Space 3 and that of Hoth from Star Wars, then you will now as the gameplay opens with Isaac waking up suspended in the upturned ship – although no Wampa will be waiting for him on this planet, in this demo at least. Our main character disengages his space-seatbelt and makes it out of the spaceship to give you the first glimpse of this new world – kind of. Visibility is greatly reduced as a blizzard is in full swing, though this does fluctuate quite noticeably when you pass through some environment triggers, this also gives you some warning that nasties may be lurking. While the blanket of pure white snow on the ground and over the mountains might give you an impression this is a very different from the dark manufactured corridors of previous games – it just gives a chance to funnel you through some natural caves that are just as dark as you remember, and also give cover to more traditional Necromorphs that pop up from the powder.
The objective marker quickly gets you on course once again with a click of the thumbstick, it is also still a useful tool to finding a few extra bits of scrap or objects if you just deviate from the path a little bit. Doing this – and in general breaking open every box, or corpse – will become essential for upgrading your weapons, but we’ll get to that in depth at the end. Back to Tau Volantis, climbing up a structure you get jumped by a Necromorph that has a more human form, grasping ice picks in each hand – then you take a few shots and from the waste up just protrudes three tentacles make the encounter that bit more gruesome. A little further down the road you have to navigate our mentally unhinged hero over a rickety set of platforms, this is where the Dead Space tension kicks in having you engage in a quick time event where the button prompts appear as part of the holographic display of your suit thanks to the still beautifully minimalist HUD.
After surviving this ordeal you get your first proper look of where you’re meant to be heading as you enter a clearing with metal buildings protruding from the montain. Potential co-op partner John Carver gives you instructions on moving forward before giving you a warning of more Necromorphs heading your way. Seemingly still quiet you get a quick puzzle that involves a new version of the kinesis module to power up an elevator, though trying to ride it proves more problematic for the Engineer. Your first mini-boss comes tearing through the ceiling forcing you into the clearing once more, pitting you one-on-one with the arachnid type creature. This monster is a lot less forgiving than the Brutes of previous games, exposing weaknesses for very short periods unless you use stasis (something that I used very rarely in previous games). You can soon get him running scared after a few hits, forcing him to climb over the elevator platform and creating a convenient ramp for you to stroll up.
In the rooms ahead are a glimpse of how the story is built upon, the body of a Unitologist soldier begins to play an audio recording as you pass – details orders they’ve received to take you out. While no audio/text logs are in this demo, this may be the new way to obtain the extra bits of information that have become abundant in the franchise. The following room contains more bodies but no audio treats, only another new enemy that latches on to the lifeless soldiers to do its bidding – controlling their gun to shoot at you sporadically, or rush you if limbs are removed. This “puppeteer” enemy will constantly reanimate bodies until you focus and take him down – so this little shootout can last a long time if you don’t prioritise your fire.
Rounding off the demo pairs you up with an AI controlled Carver, and a less than manageable cover system, caught in a firefight with more Unitologist soldiers. Soon you’ll be engaged in a Mexican standoff scenario as the Necros appear to tear anyone and everyone apart, and in turn create more of them to fight. This will have you juggling between the plasma cutter and rifle to take out both groups efficiently, while also trying not to get overwhelmed by the blood thirsty abominations. As the demo fades to black though, one of the big bosses emerges from under the cliffside making it clear he’s not going to be friendly by getting all up in your face. Before you switch off however you might want to check out the Weapon Bench mode – this allows you to play with various parts to tweak and test some weapons which would normally requires exploration to find as mentioned above. In the main game you’ll be able to share these using blueprints with a co-op partner – because who doesn’t need a Line gun with a Ripper or Flamethrower attached to the bottom?
Dead Space 3 is currently set to launch on February 5th in North America and February 8th in Europe for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. The demo will be available to all in just two days time on January 22nd.