Dead Space 3 demo impressions

EA and Visceral Games are set to release the horror, the action-horror that is their third outing in the Dead Space saga. Dead Space 3 is locked and loaded for release in February, but we’ve got a taster in the form of a pre-release demo; available to all Jan. 22nd.

The demo offers up a mere 20-minutes or so of gameplay and looks to turn Dead Space upside down, or just Isaac Clarke, as is evident by the demo’s opening sequence where Clarke is strapped in to a crashed ship. Upon freeing himself, the player is then thrust into a very different, very bright, methodical and snowy filled locale, with not a drop of blood or any narrow, dark corridors in sight – amidst all the chaos it appears Isaac’s love interest, Ellie, has gone missing amidst the wreckage, as Isaac shouts out her name.

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It’s not long before you’re soon indoors once again, amidst the strangely comforting and moody corridors. Where familiar work benches and new toys await, with all new weapon parts scattered, and we presume these to be a variant of the game’s collectibles, alongside audio logs etc., these can be utilized on the all new Crafting table, to tweak, modify and build your own unique dismembering necro-killing… gun.

You might think being out in the snow, in such a well-lit environment that it’s less terrifying, to some degree you’d be correct, although from the demo, when the nasty necro’s lunge out at you, they conveniently do so during a blizzard thus resulting in obscured vision, meaning you can’t actually lay eyes on them until there just a few feet away from tearing at your jugular.

In the prior games we’ve dealt with isolation and seen Isaac’s psyche come to breaking point. It’s not yet clear the true direction of Dead Space 3, the demo itself is heavy on action and showcasing new features but gives away very little about Isaac’s impending new struggle.

What the demo does portray, is that this isn’t just Isaac trapped and fending off monsters, there’s now a human element to the combat. There are marines hunting down Isaac, and naturally with necromorphs looming around, they look to be kept distracted, though it’s clear Isaac has a new enemy, not so frightening or terrify – just man.

There’s another playable character beside Isaac as well, Sgt. John Carver, a brash marine type who clearly from the demo’s opening sequence has issues with our troubled hero. We’ve known that Dead Space 3 was going to feature co-op play for a while now, with the demo giving us a first glimpse of what to expect. It’s clear that this isn’t your typical co-op experience, for one, playing solo as perhaps the game is best enjoyed for many; then there’s no AI-controlled John Carver by your side, he’s nowhere to be seen and it seems to become very much Isaac’s isolated story once again.

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What’s intriguing however is that in co-op play, from the perspective of the demo at least, John Carver’s appearance does have an impact on proceedings, not only is he featured in the gameplay, but the demo’s cinematics or QTE button mashing scenes differ slightly from single-player, and have Carver featured heavily, with brief disgruntled banter back and to between the two; this looks to be high enough replay incentive to tackle both single-player and co-op.

Demo aside for a moment, and from some recent footage from EA, we’ve seen this co-op aspect pushed further, where Carver looks troubled, and is literally fighting demons in his head, while Isaac in the real-world is trying to defend his partner. The co-op aspect may be the new de facto feature of Dead Space 3, though I still want to experience Isaac’s struggle alone, but knowing that there’s co-op featured, and that it’s not just tacked on and has been given some clear thought, that too is something to squeal about in anticipation.