Ah yes, Dead Space. You are the saviour of survival horror for this generation. Resident Evil would rather shoot first and ask questions later; Silent Hill is merely questionable. If not for Dead Space, then what? There are scary games, sure. Amnesia is unnerving, and more recently Slender coaxed shivering driblets of wee from an unsuspecting gaming public.
These are arguably not survival horror games, though. It’s a very particular kind of sepulchre cloth, and the mostly third-person shapes cut from it include Alone in the Dark, ObsCure, Clock Tower, Fatal Frame, and the wonderfully out of reach Rule of Rose – none of which we’ve heard from lately, and none of which we’re likely to.
Which is why Visceral’s seeming plan to turn Dead Space 3 into a tour de force of co-op shootin’ is a little bit of a disappointing one. Sure, we can only really go on what we’ve seen so far – two guys with guns shooting up necromorphs and now also shootin’ other guys with guns, hello – but Visceral’s reluctance to back up their insistence that this will not just be another shooter isn’t a confidence-builder. To wit, the day’s preview is an intentionally non-committal one.
Taking place during the game’s first act during an optional side mission entitled “The Lost Flotilla,” Isaac boards a derelict ship called the Greely and goes a-wanderin’. It’s a scenario completely divorced from any of the arctic planet-side action, completely divorced from any kind of co-op with new guy John Carver, and you don’t even have to marry it in the first place. This demo is purpose-built to avoid everything you really want to know about this game, hopefully in the lead-up to a more tangible reveal at Gamescom – but possibly because Dead Space 3 really is actually going to be a lot shootier this time around.
That’s the impression we get the first time we shoot up a crate and grab the resultant bobbing ammo icon, anyway. It’s also the first impression we get when a drooling acid bath of a necromorph comes sizzling into view in a blaze of obviousness and a massive firefight begins. Isaac remains clunky, and said firefights are a case of shooting, mostly missing, and then running around in big lethargic circles trying to get back into a good position. There’s no sticky cover, but rather a strange sort of automatic cover wherein waltzing up to a pillar, for instance, will incite Isaac to sort of hunker behind it and lean around when you want to aim. If Visceral are indeed headed for Shootersville, this er, might not pan out too good.
But hints that that Shootersville is in fact where they’re going abound, especially as we spy a gun-altering workbench on our way to opening up a door with our mad psychic powers when, really, we could just our hands. Soon our time’s up and we’re not allowed to go much further lest we actually see something interesting, and it’s a horrible but not horrifying sentiment that remains: That was the most chilled out we’ve ever felt while playing a Dead Space game.