Dead Space 3 Demo Impressions: Hope the Game is Scarier

This piece is a collaboration between Phil Hornshaw and Ross Lincoln, with Phil weighing in on Dead Space 3′s new systems, enemies and horror elements, and Ross bringing his previous experience with DS3′s co-op to bear.

Phil Hornshaw:

I remember fondly firing up the demo for Dead Space 2 for the first time. It took place on the Sprawl as Isaac explored a Unitology church. After a few moments, he found a room filled with frozen bodies — dead Unitologists, awaiting their chance at the religion’s ultimate goal, which is to be transformed into a hideous monster.

The tension was palpable, and literally hung in the air in the form of a soft nitrogen fog, denoting how cold and still the room was. We knew something was going to explode out of one of those cryo-tubes. We knew it. And that sense of dread, played up with the game’s atmosphere, created a level of tension that had me grinning like an idiot.

Last week marled the early release of the Dead Space 3 demo, and like that first go-round with Dead Space 2, we kind of know what to expect. And yet, after seemingly very quick 30-or-so-minute playthrough, this was a demo that left me less than impressed. Hopefully this slice of the game is the exception to what we can expect in Dead Space 3, and not the rule of what the game will be like.

The demo falls flat in a number of places, but first and foremost is in the quality of its atmosphere. Both the first two Dead Space games were pretty much huge haunted houses, populated by enemies that would explode from walls and vents to facilitate jump scares. But all of it was permeated by the atmosphere of dread — we knew something horrific had happened here perhaps even moments before, and we were forced to trudge through that horror to get to our goals of escape and protection.

The Dead Space 3 demo starts with protagonist Isaac Clark waking up after his ship has crashed on re-entry into the atmosphere of ice planet Tau Volantis, and begins with some real potential. The world around him is frozen; Isaac is near death and lost; a blizzard rages all around. It’s an oppressive way to get into the world, and surely those blasts of opaque white wind are hiding something sinister just beyond.

Unfortunately, the atmosphere never quite pays off the same way Dead Space 2′s did. Trudging through the snowstorm never amounts to much, and before long, Isaac finds himself in a defunct mining colony half-frozen by some past event. The vistas are huge, the landscape is open, and it’s possible to see a lot of things. Occasional trips into buildings or through caves close things in slightly, but for the most part, we find Isaac has ample space to move around in the brightly lit Tau Volantis evening.

What’s missing here is the oppression. If the blizzard kicks up, you can push through it or raise your gun to find Isaac completely unhindered. The path is clearly marked and the cold has little, if any, affect on you. What monsters eventually do spring up aren’t as horrific as they’ve been in the past — they don’t look like twisted, contorted mutations. In fact, they tend to look like people (and some even use weapons), but fall apart as you cut them up with your mining tools.

Later in the demo, we’re treated to a fight in a big open space with a big, dumb creature that really doesn’t offer Isaac much resistance at all. Trekking through mining buildings doesn’t kick up much in the way of either scares or the fear-inducing remnants of the monsters’ previous victims. Dead Space 3 seems to lack that overarching sense of dread in these disembodied few minutes, and that’s a shame.

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11 Comments on Dead Space 3 Demo Impressions: Hope the Game is Scarier


On January 23, 2013 at 11:07 pm

It felt more like Army of Two than Dead Space. Im not saying that it cant be a great action game, but Dead Space is survival-horror. That means it could be the best co-op action game ever made but I still wouldn’t like it because Im buying Dead Space so I can play a new school Resident Evil.

The Defenestrator

On January 24, 2013 at 12:49 am

Well, according to Visceral’s own words, they “don’t make survival horror, they make Dead Space.” So I wasn’t really surprised at the lack of scares of tension or atmosphere in the demo. But, having pretty much written the game off months ago as a crass, lowest common denominator baiting money grab, I was probably never going to like it anyway.

Maybe the people who don’t have a history with the series will like it better. Or maybe it’ll appeal to the people who just want to shoot stuff in the face. Either way, as a survival horror fan, I’m out. Good luck to ‘em. Hope it works out. But considering they’re also saying that they need to sell five million copies to justify continuing the series… I seriously doubt they’re going to pull it off.


On January 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm

The whole tension thing I felt from the other games was still in this game. Which was NOT GETTING KILLED IN A HORRIBLE WAY. That in itself made Dead Space enjoyable for me and it’s still around in Dead Space 3.


On January 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm

I heard one chapter has a snow mobile gun chase that ends up in a freefall over a cliff with Isaac in a mid air death struggle with a necromorph for the only parachute . . . .. . You fight a ing drill in the demo so an action game cliche like that probably isnt far off. All joking aside doesnt dead space now with the co op and cover system very closely resemble one of EA’s other much less successful titles, army of two. Army of two, especially the second one, is absolutely terrrible and very few people liked it, so what does EA do, damand to force co op into one of their more successful and loved titles even though the fans very loudly voiced their opposition to it. Its like EA and visceral are trying to alienate the people that made the franchise as popular as it is. I personally know of no real dead space fans that are happy with the direction the game has gone now and while we all hope for the best i dont think anyone is expecting anything as amazing as the first 2 games


On January 25, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Blablabla another too long article for nothing.


On January 25, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I have a big history with Dead Space and i’m sure i will enjoy Dead Space 3 as much as the other two! Me, contrary to all the whiners around here, i will not let myself having a hole in one of my favorite franchise just because the developers decided to change some details or add new contents in this new sequel.

I doesn’t care if a sequel is more action packed than survival(RE6) or more action-shooter than RPG(ME3) or more linear than it predecessor(FF13). The only thing i care its a good game nothing else so if a game is good i will be satisfied and will not cry on it just because they changed something minor.

As a true gamer i’m in The Defenestrator.

Yeah i know my english is poor et je m’en fiche! Donc aller vous faire voire!


On January 26, 2013 at 6:32 am

This game not scary no more, they ruined the series with this one.

The Defenestrator

On January 26, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Well, Wesker, I did say it was baiting the “lowest common denominator,” so by all means go prove yourself as a True Gamer by blowing $60 on a mediocre action game. :o )


On January 26, 2013 at 9:52 pm

What make you sure the game will be mediocre just because they altered the theme? Every BEEP here in the comment section say Mass Effect 3 is mediocre just because the endings are bad while every reviewers say Mass Effect 3 is a good game, even the gamefront review say it.

What matter for me in a game is not its atmosphere but its scenario. If a game got a very good story i’m really satisfied no matter what! Even if the gameplay is BEEP. I hated games like Left 4 Dead or Borderlands 1 because those games have almost zero story development.

Dead Space: Extraction is a rail-shooter and is a very good game. Good story and fun to play. And if Dead Space 3 have a good story i’m IN.

To correct my previous statement i think is more appropriate for me to say i’m more a story lover and not a full gamer.

So as a true story-lover i’m in The Defenestrator.


On January 27, 2013 at 2:10 am

We all knew it was going to be crap, we saw this coming from every screenshot and game-footage released. A truly great horror series is dead, slain by the EA beast. She shall be missed.


On January 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I doesn’t care. I’m not a fan of the survival horror genre, i’m a fan of video games in overall and i’m sure i will enjoy this third entry. I’m will not cry like a girl before testing the product.