13 Reasons Why Dead Space 3 Just Wasn’t That Scary

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CAUTION:

****SPOILERS AHEAD****

Following is my list of 13 reasons I found Dead Space 3 to be the worst game in the series. Don’t get me wrong, I still have faith in the games and I will buy the next one whenever it comes out, but while Dead Space 2 was fantastic and only improved on every single bit of what made Dead Space such a good game, the third installment is a major departure from the horror aspects that made this franchise awesome. If you haven’t played it yet and don’t want to ruin it for yourself, don’t read this!! Let’s get it on.

13. Suits

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Nothing suits me like a suit! Because they are all the same.

The suits look pretty cool in this game… But that’s it. There are only two instances where a specific suit is needed for a specific function. After the second time, literally every suit is exactly the same in every way. Where you used to be able to upgrade to a better suit with more armor, better attack ability, better speed, more inventory slots, cheaper prices at the store, etc., in this game there is no such luck. One suit is as good as the next. Finding or unlocking a new suit isn’t as life-changing as it once was. Whereas before it was a godsend to find a suit with 4 extra slots in the inventory, now finding a suit essentially means that your current fashion is outdated and it’s time to change. You’re wearing THAT suit after Labor Day? Tacky.

12. Introduction of Circuits and the Demise of Nodes

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I could never find these at Circuit City. Now I can’t even find Circuit City!

In Dead Space 1 and 2, finding a power node was the equivalent of finding a $20 lying in the street. SWEEEET! This will make a big difference! Power nodes could upgrade your suit and your guns, but the rarity and expense of power nodes meant that you had to carefully plan where to place them. Unless you wanted to spend 5,000 credits requisitioning them, placement of a node was PERMANENT. You had to ask yourself, “How much will I really use this gun? Do I NEED more oxygen time?” But now, we have circuits. Circuits are the nickels and dimes of the Dead Space world- useful, but only if you have enough of them. One circuit is not life-changing, and no matter how awesome a circuit can get, it can be moved or balanced out by something else. If I don’t like a circuit on this gun, I’ll just move it to this one. The introduction of circuits to the game meant that you didn’t really have to worry about where you put each one, because there were just so many that you couldn’t lose no matter where you put it.

11. Foreknowledge of Your Enemies

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Hey guys, listen, I REALLY appreciate you letting me know you’re the bad guys right at the beginning of the game.

You meet Danik, the main baddy, within like 15 minutes of the game’s start. You know he’s a bad guy right off the bat. About an hour into a 10-15 hourish campaign, you start to suspect that Captain Norton hates your guts and wants you dead. Thus, it is no surprise that he betrays you before the game ends. In Dead Space, you didn’t know Kendra was bad until the VERY end. You were led to believe that Hammond may be a bad guy, and you just weren’t all that sure about Kyne and Mercer. In Dead Space 2, we aren’t sure about Tiedemann, and we assume Daina is a good guy until we are proved otherwise. It takes some time to discover just who you can trust. Dead Space 3 just doesn’t have that. You know you can trust Ellie right off the bat, and while you don’t know much about Carter, he doesn’t seem to play a big enough role in the game to really make a difference. It was scary not knowing who you could trust, so consequently it’s less scary when you know exactly who NOT to trust.

10. Lack of Suspense (The British are Coming, we’ve seen it!)

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Dude, I’d act more surprised if you hadn’t told me you were coming…

Necromorphs jumped out of vents randomly and came around corners all the time in the first two games. Creepy and suddenly loud music played as soon as the necro came into direct camera view for the most part. You could have an enemy sneak up right behind you and not make a sound until he either hit you, or until you turned your camera around and he was there, roaring with loud music to back him up. They made me jump and scared the bajeezes out of me when I was playing at night. It was just so creepy how they… creeped. But don’t worry! Now they make a ton of noise, and you can see the snow moving when they’re headed your way. While in some situations the sounds they make set an ominous tone, these situations almost always involve a dark and very claustrophobic room. Out in the snow, seeing enemies coming from a long ways off and having time to prepare just doesn’t make their appearance all that frightening.

9. Crafting

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Let’s see, best way to kill zombies… ROCKET LAUNCHER, OBVIOUSLY!!!

In a way, weapon crafting is both the coolest and the worst thing about this game, though it obviously isn’t the most frustrating or else it would be higher on my list. The amount of possibility is really staggering here. It’s so neat that I can mix the plasma cutter and the contact beam, my two favorite guns. It’s cool that I can make one weapon have the ability to stasis my enemies when I shoot them, or to light them on fire, and another that gives me health as I kill with it. Best thing ever, right? Yes… In a different game. In a game where SURVIVAL is key, you would think that you just make do with what you can find. The first and second games basically only gave you mining tools to fight with, save for the pulse rifle, which sucked anyways. The idea was that you were fighting the alien enemies with the tools you could find and that you knew about. Now I can make just about any weapon I can imagine, and the game becomes less about surviving and more about killing in imaginative ways. Furthermore, every weapon now uses the same ammo. You used to have to very carefully choose what guns you carried, because they each had different ammo and your inventory would get full very quickly. You have to think about how you use the guns, since each is not equal in its usefulness. Some shoot fast and accurate, others slow but with lots of power, and still others disperse widely. I had to think about what gun to bring with me ahead, and would need to think on my feet quickly before taking any shots or killing enemies for fear that I had not brought enough ammo with me. Now, it doesn’t matter. I can switch freely between all firing modes and not worry about how much of one type of ammo or another I have, it’s all the same. If you aren’t picking up on it yet, the idea here is that EA decided to give gamers more freedom in how they play. While freedom means more customization, it means less suspense. If I’m free to decide how I kill, it’s far less likely I’ll ever have the suspense and anxiety of being backed into a corner.

8. Movement

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Double tap [A] to take away your worries!

This one, EA specifically addressed in a press release. They decided that giving Isaac the ability to roll around or dodge and to take cover felt essential, since his inability to move felt stupid and counter-intuitive. They believed that the horror in the game should come from what’s happening in the game and the story, not from sluggish controls. What they DIDN’T think about is that by this game in the series, we are largely desensitized to what is happening in the game. What’s happening in the game is no longer that shocking to us. Resident Evil suffered from the same issues. In the first game you used to have to stop moving completely in order to aim and shoot, and this was horrifying! You want to be able to run away and shoot at the same time, but you can’t! While many gamers would say this was stupid, it certainly made for a scarier game. Sometimes the scariest moments in a movie are the ones where a character can’t move or doesn’t know they SHOULD move and we see the monster coming for them. We yell and scream at the screen for them to just GET OUT OF THERE, and we get mad at how unrealistic it can be when they don’t try to fight back or get away… But that anger is really just our unwillingness to admit how badly those moments scared us. In this game, you no longer have that fear of an enemy suddenly being RIGHT next to you, and you have no choice but to shoot point blank like a mad-man until they go down. In Dead Space 2, the Puker would shoot you with a “stasis” shot which would slow you down, and suddenly you would have no choice but to fight whatever was in the room. Running wasn’t an option. Being able to dodge hits now makes it far less likely to ever come into contact with an enemy, and that makes it less scary.

7. Human Enemies

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“Hey man, you’re modding! Quit camping! I’m gonna do unthinkable things to your mom!”

This game introduces human enemies, the Unitologist soldiers. This one should be a no brainer, really. Human enemies aren’t scary. Necromorphs don’t hide, they charge right at you. They have no fear. Human enemies hide, they plan, they are predictable. The addition of human enemies to the series makes it feel more like Call of Duty than Dead Space. Call of Duty isn’t scary. I play this and think of the soldiers yelling things at me that I’m used to hearing from 10 year olds on multiplayer in CoD or Halo.

6. Scope/Magnitude of What We’re Doing

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I’m fighting to survive here, I can’t take that risk! What? It’s for the fate of mankind? Ok, I suppose I can do it then.

Dead Space 1 and 2 were about staying alive. Oh, mankind’s fate is alluded to. You know these aliens can’t make it to Earth or any of it’s colonies, so you have to kill them. But frankly, most of your fighting is done for yourself. But when you are suddenly fighting for the well-being of the entire galaxy… Well, it’s not so scary, because what you are doing is so important. Does this make sense? I might be afraid to fail because if I do, the whole galaxy falls apart. But if I fail, it was for a bigger cause and I’ll be remembered as a hero. But fighting for your own survival, fighting just to live for a few more minutes, is infinitely more scary than fighting for all humanity. It’s much more personal. As the focus shifted away from Isaac saving himself and his close friends, to saving others and eventually mankind, it got less scary to see what was happening to him. The suspense and anxiety get watered down as the stakes spread out to more than just your own well-being. This is the beginning of the big hitters of why this game wasn’t very good. This is where the game stopped being a SURVIVAL horror game. Plus, fighting planet-sized enemies makes killing human-sized enemies seem trivial.

5. Co-Op

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I’m glad you could be with me here Sam… At the end of all things.

Yet another example of a cool gameplay addition that also ruined the horror. Having someone play next to you, constantly talking to you, encourages you to laugh at the scary parts instead of shudder. You are already mowing down enemies by yourself in this game, but now you don’t even have to be afraid of the time it takes to reload your weapon. You don’t even have to look around. It becomes a contest of who can kill more enemies. Fear 3 suffered in this area as well. Having a co-op partner changes up the gameplay in big ways, but the biggest way is by making it just not scary anymore. There were many ways a co-op campaign could still be scary (split off into different areas of the ship, getting separated, seeing and hearing things that the other player can’t, etc), but this game only touched the surface of those possibilities.

4. Resource Hunting

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Shopping is so much fun, I’ve forgotten that I’m actually fighting for my life!

Another area that both Fear 3 and Dead Space 3 suffer is in the area of resource/ability hunting. In Fear 3, you kill in specific ways, with specific guns or moves, from special areas, etc, to earn style points. Earning style points upgrades your level, which gains you more health, better stats, more moves, etc. I focused so much on getting specific kills, that I completely forgot the game was supposed to be scary. In similar ways, you spend so much time hunting for resources and focusing on upgrading those darn weapons, you forget that the game and the story is still happening. I don’t kill a necro to survive; I kill him and hope he drops some tungsten. By adding so many items that you need to find to do anything, you take the focus away from the storyline. The plot would oftentimes drag, because I needed to scavenge resources in an area before moving on. You scavenged around for parts and items in the first games too, of course. But this game emphasizes that scavenging farrrrr more. It becomes a distraction rather than a necessity.

3. Loneliness and Never Being Alone

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… Shaggy… Velma… and Scoob. The gangs all here!

This entire game, you have Carter with you. If he’s not with you, you have Ellie or Norton or SOMEONE always contacting you, on your side, aware of your exact location. This game never really gives you that sense of being utterly alone, that creepy feeling you got in the first two games. This doesn’t specifically have to do with being able to play co-op either. It has to do with the plot of the story. You are working on a team for an obvious and set goal for the whole game, and thus the sense that you are alone in your mission is lost.

Simultaneously, the fact that you do not encounter any living humans makes the game less scary. Remember walking around a corner and seeing a woman with her eyes gouged out just laughing hysterically? Or another woman waiting for a necro baby to crawl to her? Or a man that you can’t really tell if he’s dead or not slamming his head into the wall at the end of the hallway, and hearing it all happen way before you could see it? This stuff gave me the heebie jeebies! There’s something inherently creepy about being on a ship or in a city where it seems like everyone is dead, but still encountering living people. People who have seem some horrible things and are now going crazy. These people reinforce the fact that something horrible happened and is happening currently all around you. Things are falling apart in other parts of the ship or city. You are not there after the event has already occurred; it’s occurring now. On Tau Volantis, however, everything happened a long time ago. You are re-awakening everything, rather than seeing it fresh.

2. Setting

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                                                      A flight in wide open space?

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A stroll through an entire planet of snow? Sounds lovely!

Darkness and closed spaces were two of the biggest selling points of the horror of Dead Space. You were trapped on a ship that had no power, and things were stalking you. In this game, you shift from a large moon colony, to the orbit of a broken up fleet of ships, to an entire planet. There are very few moments where true claustrophobia sets in for this game. The fact is, for probably 70% of the game, you aren’t even IN space anymore. And 15% of the game time, you aren’t on a spaceship but free floating around. This wide-openness, complete with lots of light and visibility, makes everything way less scary. If I can see my enemy a mile away, with no tight corners to worry about and no low light to be afraid of, I’m not gonna be scared. The most claustrophobic you get in this game is during the side missions that are mostly in place for acquisition of resources. So, you essentially trade off a scare of being in the dark, for the lack of scare of focusing on finding parts.

ANNNNNDDDD…. Number 1 reason why I think Dead Space 3 wasn’t scary is…..

1. The Necromorphs!

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                                          You’re just a giant bug, I think.

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You’re a murderer with a facemask on.

I think this is by far the biggest reason this game failed to scare me or creep me out. The necros on DS and DS2 were pretty much all recent converts. Many of them were human and changed into necros right before your eyes. There faces were still very human, they still made very human sounds. There were babies with tenticles, men and women with large spikes on them, a guy attached to the wall who still sounded very much alive but like he was being tortured. It was SCARY. They were so very human, and yet something else. It was the freshness of it, the fact that these monstrosities were human moments before, that made them so sickening. Seeing children with pale skin and long claws run at you, or a scorpion thing with a very human face and a human set of arms jump at you was the stuff of nightmares. But in DS3, the necros/mutated humans are both MORE and LESS human. The necros are all made of extremely decayed bodies, so their human traits are minimal. They really just look like big humanoid bugs to me, and killing bugs has never been an issue for me. The babies are now dogs, and even those dogs are barely recognizable. We also have humans who ate infected flesh. The only ones of these that are creepy are the Feeders, which essentially replaced the Pack from DS2. They are creepy zombie things. They are fast and mean and love the dark, so they can create a good amount of tension. But the Wasters, the ones that carry pick-axes and wear parkas… They aren’t scary. They look like humans with glowing face masks. The very fact that they can and do use weapons makes them less scary. I think the previous 2 games struck the right balance between alien and human for the necromorphs, and this game threw everything out of whack.

 

Dead Space, first and foremost, is supposed to be a HORROR survival game. EA tried to turn it into an action game with horror elements, and essentially turned away from what made gamers love the series in the first place.

So what do you think should be done to bring Dead Space 4 back to the horrifying roots from whence it came?

Thank you for reading, please comment and follow me!

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