When it was released in 2008, Dead Space was the deserving recipient of a plethora of awards including IGN’s award for “Best New Intellectual Property”. In its end-of year rundown, IGN breathlessly hailed Dead Space as “one of the most harrowing tales of the year”, citing the good ship Ishimura’s “dread and despair” as the game’s greatest strength.
It’s hard to argue with that. Dead Space‘s cover art features a disembodied arm floating above a battered spaceship, a compelling image of “dread and despair” if ever there was one. The game’s unlikely selling point was the fact that the gruesome enemies (“Necromorphs”) needed to be dismembered, rather than disemboweled. Timelessly enjoyable though shooting games are, even the keenest enthusiast can grow tired of executing endless head shots, so this relatively small innovation was surprisingly refreshing and translated into sales as well as plaudits.
But whilst Dead Space‘s credentials as a brilliant, bloody and innovative game are unquestionable, its status as a true horror game is up for debate. Although the concept – lone astronaut must dismember waves of mutants aboard abandoned mining vessel – ticks all the genre boxes, Dead Space lacks a few crucial elements that would have made it truly terrifying.