Isaac Clark hasn’t had a terribly quiet life, and as he hangs upside down with a frosty face you’ve got to how this guy hasn’t had a heart attack from all the stress in his life. With the release of Dead Space 3 next month Isaac’s heart will once again take a battering, and if this demo is anything to by so will ours.
Isaac and his crew have crash landed on the ball of ice that is Tau Volantis, and that’s pretty much all you’re told story wise. Your objective is to meet up with the survivors from your crew, and to do this you have to make your way through a heavy snowstorm. I was a bit sceptical about whether Visceral Games transporting the game outside of the dark dank corridors of the previous game would work or not, but thankfully the snowstorm is just as creepy as the barely lit spaceship interiors of old. Visibility is at a minimum, and Isaac walks with his hand shielding his face from the force of the oncoming blizzard. As you make your way through this white hell you’ll hear an ominous roar in the distance, telling you that you’re definitely not alone out here. If you feel lost then hitting the right stick paints a path towards your objective, but at the moment it’s pretty much a straight path.
Sure enough it’s not long before a Necromorph lurches out of the snowstorm, and after the initial shock I quickly managed to dismember one of the legs with my equipped plasma cutter (still one of my most favourite weapons of all time) and finish the nasty little bugger off before he could scuttle towards me. Stomping the corpse of an enemy still reveals rewards, as does stomping a crate, so nothing has changed on that part. QTE’s also make their return, as your introduced to them when Isaac manages to get himself caught in a truck that’s slowly slipping off the side of a cliff. Personally I don’t mind QTE’s when they’re not overbearing, but it remains to be seen how many Dead Space 3 will throw at you.
Eventually you come across a member of your crew, but as always he’s not easy to get to and you have to figure out a way to get up to him. Using your kinetic energy – allowing you to control objects from afar – you can wind a generator up by tapping ‘B’. This also powers up the nearby weapon bench and the giant futuristic wardrobe where you can upgrade or change your suit.
Weapons development is now far deeper than simply upgrading your favourite pee shooters stats (although you can still do that too), with a competent crafting system now in place. By using the salvage parts you pick up on your travels you can create your own weapons. For example, I created the parts for a weapon, slotted them together, and ended up with a nifty gun that not only fired a bouncing strip of energy that could cut the limbs off multiple enemies, but also worked as a single shot rifle by tapping the alternate fire button. You can also attach parts that will help your co-op partner if you’re playing with one, such as recharging their health. The demo lets you play around with this system by filling your inventory with a wide range of parts, so do so with glee because you won’t be able to do as much at this part of the game in the full retail release.
Before you can reach your buddy a massive spider like Necromorph attacks you, and while he looks like he’ll be tough he’s actually pretty easy to send whimpering back into the snow. The stasis ability is there as per usual, so the trick is to slow him down and shoot off the glowing orange limbs. After he’s scarpered you’ll come across the ‘little heads with legs’ that were such a bugger to deal with in previous games, and these will promptly revive corpses that are equipped with guns. The gunfire is easy to avoid, but who knows how easy it will be when they’re part of a wave of different types of Nercromorph. You’ll come across real breathing humans with guns later, and thankfully there’s now a cover system that will snap Isaac to a crate so you can return fire, but hopefully these sections are few and far between as I’m here to fight monsters and not regular boring humans.
The standout moment of the demo comes when a massive drill bit blocks your way out. After you’ve used your stasis ability to get access to the drill, it spins out of control and starts grinding its way towards you as your trapped in a tight circle shaped room. To disable it you have to shoot a yellow fuse in the centre of the drill, but that’s easier said than done. You need to use stasis to slow the drill down so you can pop a shot through a gap to hit the fuse, but you’re also being attacked by Necromorphs while you do this. I ended up running back and forth between stasis stations to recharge, all the while being chased by 5 Necromorphs and a drill that could have been right behind me every time I stopped to recharge. So you’re recharging, trying to keep an eye on the drill, firing at Necromorphs that keep coming, trying to bring up the real time inventory to heal, and trying to hit a fuse through a gap. It’s a lot to be getting on with, and it’s incredibly frantic, but that’s Dead Space for you.
The cliff-hanger to end the demo has you being confronted by a massive beast, but as soon as it lunges that’s your lot. So far so good I suppose, it’s Dead Space at the end of the day and doesn’t feel overly different from the previous game. The new setting is intriguing though, as is the weapon crafting system, and co-op gameplay should be a great deal of fun (I didn’t get chance to try it with demo, although it is available).
The demo is available to early access players right now, but everyone else will get it on 22 January.