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Mo Mozuch

Xbox Game Pass Just Released the Most Iconic Sci-Fi Horror Game of the Century

— EA Motive

Time and timing are not the same thing. Most of us think we understand time, but the more our big-brained physicists pick apart the fabric of reality, the more we learn that time is not what we think it is, and doesn’t behave how we expect it to. Timing is a different story. We feel timing, and call those feelings “mood.” You’re not in the mood for a martini at 7 a.m. (right?) but at 7 p.m.? Different story.

So when a certain iconic survival horror franchise launched a remake in January, most gamers weren’t paying attention. But now that it’s coming to Game Pass on Halloween weekend? Perfect timing.

Dead Space originally launched in 2008 and quickly cemented itself in gaming history as a premier survival horror title. It spawned a rabid fanbase and an enduring franchise that delivered two sequels. As its legacy grew, the team at EA Motiv decided to revisit the original and served up a remake that is pitch-perfect in its execution and precise in scope. All the right changes were made so that new players and old fans alike could dive in and have a new, albeit terrifying, experience.

There are few games that make for a better choice during the spooky season. Set aboard the USG Ishimura, an abandoned spaceship in orbit around a mysterious planet, Dead Space is full of edge-of-your-seat suspense, righteous jump scares, and a smorgasbord of body horror gore. Necromorphs are terrifying foes made of amalgamated body parts that sport lots of sharp, stabby limbs. The remake leans into the atmosphere with gorgeous graphical updates that bring out the best in its gruesome aesthetics.

If you tend to avoid remakes, don’t worry. Dead Space doesn’t feel dated at all, in large part because it was so influential. It may not feel fresh if you’re a new player and genre fan because you’ve been there, and done that with survival horror. But you won’t walk away feeling like it’s an old game under a thin coat of pixels, either.

It’s not just visuals, either. There’s expanded storytelling that old fans will appreciate, and new players get to enjoy the ride, too. The biggest addition is that Isaac Clarke is no longer a silent protagonist, with his dialogue performed by actor Gunner Wright, who voiced the character in other franchise entries. This might anger some purists, but anyone who plays games to enjoy them will appreciate the delicate balance struck between having a protagonist who knows when to stay silent for maximum effect and when it's appropriate to talk about all the weird, horrific mess going on. And there is weird, horrific mess aplenty in Dead Space.

In terms of gameplay, fans who’ve played Dead Space 2 will feel right at home here as a number of quality-of-life improvements added to the sequel were applied to the remake. Notably, zero-gravity segments let players fly around interior spaces instead of having to land and launch over and over. There is also a robust mod mechanic for Isaac’s arsenal that wasn’t there before. This means there’s something to look forward to on the backtrack-y sidequests once Isaac progresses far enough to unlock new doors and containers.

Mods alone aren’t the only changes EA Motive made to the weapons in Dead Space, either. Many of them have different secondary fire modes that add a new layer of strategy to the combat. Some weapons can now rip fleshy necromorphs to pieces or, even cooler, they may just blast their skin off leaving behind a screeching creature made of muscle, bone, and sinew (that still isn’t dead).

This isn’t just gore for the sake of gore. The only way to destroy necromorphs is to dismember them, so new players with conventional shooter skills will likely learn the hard way that headshots don’t mean a thing anymore. Fortunately, it’s a bloody good time tearing apart a necromorph. At least until you’re the one on the receiving end.

Clocking in at around 10 to 12 hours, Dead Space is exactly the game you’re looking for if you want to give yourself the heebie-jeebies this Halloween. Its timing on Game Pass is no coincidence, dropping the weekend before the holiday to give everyone plenty of time to dive in (or dive in again). And since January was about 15 GOTY contenders ago, you’ve probably forgotten this remake even happened this year. Feed yourself a little nightmare fuel and play it ASAP.

Dead Space (2023) is available on Game Pass. It’s also for sale on Xbox, PlayStation and PC.

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