Dead Space 3 Is The Reason Why Survival Horror Needs Fixed

After playing Dead Space 3, I figured I would do a review on it. Makes sense because it’s a hot title out there, but something didn’t fit well while I was playing it. So I popped in Silent Hill 2 and played that to compare my experience with Dead Space 3. Keep in mind Silent Hill 2 is absolutely terrifying in every way, but Dead Space as a series has been overall pretty good itself. Scary as hell definitely, but overall it relies heavily on a deep connecting story that tugs at your psyche as well as your imagination. I felt like something was amiss. I played just a few hours of Silent Hill 2 and was more interested and more engrossed than with a nearly full play through of Dead Space 3. Survival horror is losing it and Dead Space 3 shows exactly why.

I decided against doing a review because I felt that finding out the problem with Dead Space 3 was much more important. Dead Space 3 is where Visceral and Electronic Arts have run dry on the mixture of survival horror and action. It has always been difficult to do it correctly and even the juggernaut that is the Resident Evil series has only itself had a small handful of games that did it well, and Silent Hill has only 2 or 3 games that most gamers will say are any good at all.

The issues with Dead Space 3 are apparent after just a few hours. You will realize 3 major concepts that repeat entirely too damn much.

  • Your “companions” do nothing besides watch you fall into ice caverns and tell you to go get things they need all while staying safely behind.
  • Each level and area works the same. Fight necro’s, run around, random Necro attacks, achieve goal, return to base…
  • Looks like you have to fight this same reoccurring mini-boss again… ugh.

While I did enjoy Dead Space and to a degree Dead Space 2, I have still had the same problem with this series. It forces me to do things for other characters in a repetitive nonsensical way. Things like running from one end of the ship to the other for a spark plug or to flip a switch only to have to run back to the original area I was at. I’m someone who has absolute disdain for tedious tasks forced onto me in games. It shows that they ran out of ideas and decided to use the same concept in different areas.

Dead Space 3 kills it’s own momentum for the series by focusing more on necromorphs and less on the story behind them. They seemed more obsessed with making big scary looking necro’s than giving us a stronger connection to the overall plot. The weakness of the game itself is the overall problem with survival horror these days. Instead of focusing on the plot of the game which is the essence of survival horror, they focus on making more and more monster-esque creatures for us to fight. They would rather make you jump once than make a story that truly leaves you feeling fear.

It seems to have gone the way of movies in America as well. It is more important to have loads of gore and violence instead of a thick effective plot with situational combat that has meaning and is avoidable because you lack a lot of weaponry and ammunition. Think of what Silent Hill did. They gave you optional firearms with low amounts of ammo but what you used the most was your blunt weapons. Melee combat has been an important staple to a lot of survival horror save Resident Evil. Plot is the most important piece to any survival horror game to me and Dead Space has a solid story to work with, but in this installment it flies away from the story part to focus on fighting creatures resembling Hentai porn things.

Dead Space 3 forgot it had a story to tell. The majority of story you learn isn’t from a physical person, it’s from reading logs or listening to audio logs. I’m ok with learning info from that, but having someone tell me something literally about the plot is always nice. Hell even a hologram explanation from a former citizen right before they get sliced and diced. They don’t take an effective avenue in story telling throughout the whole ordeal. I wasn’t floored or stunned or wow’d, I was just like, “eh, ok.” for a plot that I had been anticipating to learn more about.

Survival horror as a genre has gone the way of action which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it limits the genre a lot. Look at Resident Evil 6, it scraped a solid story in favor of action and it got low scores while most people generally panned it as not survival horror because it wasn’t. Gone are the days of Fatal Frame, Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2 as well as games like Clock Tower. I enjoyed a lot of aspects about the Dead Space series, but with Dead Space 3 it has lost it’s way. Scare me, but give me a story to be enthralled with. Without the story there is no fear to develop and without that developed fear it goes from survival horror to just another action game with zombie things.

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