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Dead Space 3's Narrative continues to haunt me... in the worst way. *spoilers*

So Dead Space 1 and 2 are some my most favorite games. I finished both of them multiple times, and I love the stories. The two games make a pretty nice duology; the first about the destruction of Isaac Clarke's life at the hands of an unknowable alien entity and the second about him taking control again. It makes a great character arc, and the characters were well acted, and a special shout-out to Gunner Wright who really brought Isaac to life in the second game. In fact, I consider Dead Space 2 one of the best sequels in the history of gaming, but that's just a personal opinion.

However, Dead Space 3... oof, the story told in Dead Space 3 is just so frustrating, especially because there's a lot of good ideas here, but they're either hamfistedly executed or the bad stuff around them totally craps on the good stuff.

The bad:

- That shitty love triangle.
- OH MY GOD IT WAS THE MOON. Honestly, I found the giant moon Necromorphs to be completely absurd, and then fighting it by shooting Markers in the eye just seemed so... dumb
- Unitologists pretty much took over in the course of three years. They went from being a devious cult to basically burning everything to the ground, but it all happens off-screen and seems like a surprise.
- The character of Norton.
- Carver kind of just sorta being shoved in there so EA could accommodate co-op.

There was some interesting ideas and influences that I loved though:

The three primary settings - Luna City had some seriously cool Blade Runner influence. Loved the dead Flotilla, it was very eerie and cool. And finally, Tau Volantis, echoing 'The Thing' was an inspired setting to use.

Coming across a previous alien race that achieved "Convergence" was really cool, and unraveling the mysteries around it was a cool concept.

Isaac achieving action hero status was kinda rad (even though the transition to full on action felt pretty weird).

A lot of the historical stuff, lore, and world-building was done spectacularly well. There's a great sense of atmosphere and history in the Flotilla and on Tau Volantis, especially with the stuff about The Colonies.

So yeah, it feels like a crappy, mediocre poorly paced action flick set in a world that should have had a more tight, intimate horror/survival narrative similar to Dead Space 1 and 2, but the conflict felt like it expanded so much beyond. Yes, Isaac destroyed two Markers in the past, but the dude was fucked up from it. This is basically him going to the source for reasons and then bad shit happens and it all just felt... tired.

Oh, and then there's Awakened! Which started out really interesting, but then... oh wow, everyone is dead and the Brother Moons are gonna eat everyone.

Like I just find it all so asinine. When I think "IT WAS THE MOON ALL ALONG", I just crack up.

And like, it's not like they didn't already have enough narrative built up in the past that they could have worked into the third game for a more emotional, intimate, and spookier game, while utilising the same basic plot framework and locations.

Why bother with Carver when you had another character waiting in the wings that would have been a perfect co-op/deuteragonist character with Isaac?


Lexine Murdoch-Weller survived Dead Space: Extraction and survived Dead Space 2: Severed (albeit losing her husband in the process, and fleeing with her newborn baby). You can easily set up a narrative about her life colliding with Isaac's. Maybe the Unitologists are after her and her baby cause she's a survivor of the Sprawl and resistant to the Marker's effects. Maybe there's something special about her child, whatever. Perhaps she joined a ragtag crew in the aftermath for work, and they're being chased by Unitologists and they go see Isaac. The Unitologists get wind of Isaac and boom, now he's on board whether he likes it or not.

And Isaac being in a relationship with Ellie is so dumb. Like, it's not really necessary and it just serves to be this dumb love triangle. I mean, if I was writing it, why not have their relationship just be platonic? I mean, Isaac is probably horribly fucked up, what he's gone through, it's not shit people get over. I mean, I could envision a storyline where maybe they're both living below the radar on Luna and she's around keeping him stable, and they're best friends, but a romance wasn't necessary. Even if she goes missing, he'd still go to the ends of the earth to find his last friend.

Like, the story just needs to be more intimate. A lot of the stuff in the middle of the game, unraveling the mystery of the Flotilla and then of the dead alien race on Tau Volantis is quite compelling. But when your crew starts dying one-by-one, there's just no impact. At least if you're playing as Lexine, there's a history there and you can build it up through dialogue and the player is aware of her development from past games.

Carver is just grumble grumble dead family, hallucinations, yo bro.

I mean, you can have a more urgent and intimate narrative where when the Unitologists catch up to them in the Flotilla and they crash land, Ellie and Lexine's baby are both separated. Lexine and Isaac have to traverse the treacherous territory and dead base to find them.

And honestly, I wish they never showed the Brother Moon. The unknowable horror of the Markers was compelling enough. We didn't need an answer. We are already compelled by this tale of survival and the mysteries and the horror and the characters. I didn't need to know big honking moons eat all the aliens and then they ate the humans.

I wish the finale was more mental or emotional like in Dead Space 1 and 2. Well okay, Dead Space 1, you're battling the Hive Mind after you realize you're crazy, that's a physical confrontation. Dead Space 2 is all emotional as Marker-Nicole is fucking with your brain and Isaac has to overcome his trauma.

Dead Space 3's finale should have had a spiritual or mental bent to it. It should have gotten weird and metaphysical and creepy.




Essentially, this game is about the End of the World... but it never feels like that. The conflicts feel contrived. It lost the intimate feeling that the previous two games had. One man against a harrowing and dangerous world he didn't understand.

I dunno, in short, here's what I would have changed:

- Lexine instead of Carver. You could do co-op with her, but my preference would be having the game use both protagonists at different points.
- No romance between Ellie and Isaac
- Different motivations for getting to Tau Volantis
- Don't reveal the origins of The Markers. I think "It's all just... dead space" is scary enough in it's own right as a reveal, that these have killed many species before.

I'm sure there's a few more things I would have liked. A longer intro on Luna showing Isaac's day-to-day life would have been interesting. Getting to know the crew before everyone dies. The Unitologists having less influence then basically overthrowing EarthGov everywhere.

And use the ice planet setting better. I was hoping for some serious paranoia down there, akin to the Thing. In fact, given that this planet was inhabited by an advanced alien species, Visceral missed a chance to develop wholly new and creepier creatures down there. There are some, like the big ones, but regular enemies on Tau Volantis could have been Necromorph "Rosettas". More than just the setting, have their abilities echo "The Thing' and induce paranoia in the cast. They crash on this planet, but whatever is on it is not the Necromorphs they recognize, but something horrifically different and even more alien and more terrifying. Isaac's attitude is very much 'been there done that' but now he's on an alien planet that has a dead civilization, give him something that terrifies him even more... more unknown.

Also if we had Lexine, we could have had an amazing homage to Aliens and given her a mech suit on the ice planet.



I like the D9 suit.

And I'm not saying that the narratives of DS1 and 2 are high art. They're well done horror thrillers that are paced really well. But I cared about Isaac and the world was terrifying and intriguing. In Dead Space 3, it felt... less so. It felt less urgent, less horrifying, less compelling as a narrative.

DS1 was a mystery and search for a lost love. DS2 was a story about survival and overcoming loss. DS3 was... I dunno. Getting answers, I suppose, but it wasn't even really that cause Isaac didn't care about the answers.

It should have been about the futility of unraveling a mystery and about reconnecting with other people and human audacity in the face of horror.
 
I loved DS3, but the story was definitely lacking. Then Awakened came out, and I was like "yeah, this is a perfect ending for Dead Space".

Everything's fucked. You failed. The end.
 
I loved DS3, but the story was definitely lacking. Then Awakened came out, and I was like "yeah, this is a perfect ending for Dead Space".

Everything's fucked. You failed. The end.

CAUSE THE MOONS ATE EVERYTHING.

I'm not opposed to a truly bleak ending, and most of Awakened was cool, but then they doubled down on the stupid MOONS.
 

Markitron

Is currently staging a hunger strike outside Gearbox HQ while trying to hate them to death
Such a missed opportunity, Tau Volantis and (especially) The Flotilla were fantastic environments. I just couldn't get past:

The sped-up necromorphs
The monster-closet encounter design
Strategic dismemberment being marginalised
The OP weapon crafting system
The pointless microtransaction system
Human-enemy combat
Forced Co-op
Awful characters
Stupid love triangle
Killer moons
Out of place resource gathering dungeons
Terrible endgame.

I have seen sequels that have been terrible compared to their predecessors, but I can't recall any other series with a notable drop in the third game.
 
Such a missed opportunity, Tau Volantis and (especially) The Flotilla were fantastic environments. I just couldn't get past:

The sped-up necromorphs
The monster-closet encounter design
Strategic dismemberment being marginalised
The OP weapon crafting system
The pointless microtransaction system
Human-enemy combat
Forced Co-op
Awful characters
Stupid love triangle
Killer moons
Out of place resource gathering dungeons
Terrible endgame.

I have seen sequels that have been terrible compared to their predecessors, but I can't recall any other series with a notable drop in the third game.

Yeah. It was a bizarre turn from what made the first two games so good.
 

Truant

Member
I kinda disliked DS2 upon release, but having replayed it a few times the last few years it's become one of my favorite games.
 
I hate when games or even movies have to divorce the main protagonist from their love interest in the previous game and then turn them into a drunk scumbag who hates life. Like, I get it. It doesn't make sense for John McCLane to go on another action adventure if he's still saddled with a wife. But it's just such lazy writing that would rather sweep shit under the rug instead of writing an actual character arc.

Isaac Clarke broke up with Ellie and turns into a drunkard. Ethan from Condemned turns into a drunkard in the sequel. Snake broke up with Meryl. Nate and Elena in Uncharted have a rocky on-again, off again relationship. Bah, I hate it.
 

Spinky

Member
Dead Space 3 was such a disappointment. Massive waste of potential that I prefer not to think about.

EDIT: And this is coming from someone who loves the action-horror REs, so it's not entirely because of the shift in tone or whatever. It was just so painfully forgettable.
 
Kinda missed out on ds2 & 3. Really loved 1. Might go back and play 2.

Is dead space as a franchise done? Haven't heard anything about a forth game or anything.
 

Kinyou

Member
I really enjoyed it while you were on the flotilla but then it begins to decline really steadily. And yes, almost every decision regarding Ellie was weird. First they sex her up, give her an eye implant which makes it feel like DS2 never happened, and put her in the middle if this love triangle that felt way too forced.

Doesn't the other guy even go as far as wanting to kill you?

And you're right that Issac and Ellie didn't even need to be in a relationship. DS2 was all about Issac overcoming the guilt he felt over Nicole, throwing himself in another relationship right afterwards doesn't feel all that right.
 

Ralemont

not me
The love triangle and timeskip after Isaac and Ellie get together is just really weird and disorienting coming off DS2's ending.

I disagree with the OP that their relationship would have worked as well being platonic. I thought Isaac escaping with Ellie at the end of DS2 was symbolic of the completion of his stages of grief and finally getting over Nicole and moving on with his life, and a relationship with Ellie fits in well with that. With that being said, they handled it in the worst way possible in DS3, going full fucking soap opera. Had I done DS3, Isaac and Ellie would have been the coop partners, and it'd be just them trying to stop the Necromorphs as their relationship develops. The kiss at the end would have been more powerful that way, in my opinion.
 

Markitron

Is currently staging a hunger strike outside Gearbox HQ while trying to hate them to death
Kinda missed out on ds2 & 3. Really loved 1. Might go back and play 2.

Is dead space as a franchise done? Haven't heard anything about a forth game or anything.

I'd say so. I think EA wanted to turn Dead Space into their own Gears of War. Then DS3 wasn't particularly well received and didn't set the world on fire sales-wise AFAIK. Visceral are now making a Star Wars game, I can't see EA diverting resources to a sci-fi game like this when they could be making a Star Wars game instead.

Oh and you absolutely should play DS2, I don't think it's quite as good as the first, but even coming close to that game is an achievement in itself.
 
The first two were such completely solid games (and as much as DS2 marks a tonal shift toward action-adventure, it's still a ridiculously confident sequel that gets a lot right). Such a shame about DS3.

Really, my only serious beef with DS2 is that it misuses the immortal-necromorph enemy concept (something DS3 doubles down on) - the first game was really right to make that enemy into a sort of puzzle boss in both encounters with it, and that the needle-in-your-eye minigame is really bad and kinda ruins Hardcore mode.

DS3 basically lets you pump out so much damage so easily that the limb-removal tension is completely sucked out of the gameplay. I feel bad for the developers who were basically asked to sabotage their own franchise in order to bring in more microtransaction dollars and more dudebro-gamer dollars.
 
The Dead Space franchise was one of my favorite series. I really loved DS1, DS2 and Extraction, but then DS3 happened. I couldn't even force myself to finish it.
 

mjc

Member
I have some of the same thoughts, DS2 was such a high point for me that I felt way sad about the way DS3 turned out. Shame.
 
The Dead Space franchise was one of my favorite series. I really loved DS1, DS2 and Extraction, but then DS3 happened. I couldn't even force myself to finish it.

Yep. I made it halfway through Dead Space 3 before I fully realized this was not why I loved the games. Bought it for cheap on PC so I think I'll finish it one day, maybe if they ever relaunch the series (EA please). I didn't even mind the combat against humans, as it provided some great tense moments towards the beginning, but by the end the set pieces just got ridiculous from the gameplay I've seen.
 
I LOVED Dead Space 1. No other games in the series will top it for me. I couldnt even finish DS3 cus I just got bored. I want a reboot now.
 

Markitron

Is currently staging a hunger strike outside Gearbox HQ while trying to hate them to death
Really, my only serious beef with DS2 is that it misuses the immortal-necromorph enemy concept (something DS3 doubles down on) - the first game was really right to make that enemy into a sort of puzzle boss in both encounters with it, and that the needle-in-your-eye minigame is really bad and kinda ruins Hardcore mode.

I actually really liked the use of that enemy in DS2, that stretch before the final encounter is incredibly tense. I'm glad they didn't give me the means to kill/trap it in the sequel..

Yep. I made it halfway through Dead Space 3 before I fully realized this was not why I loved the games. Bought it for cheap on PC so I think I'll finish it one day, maybe if they ever relaunch the series (EA please).

If they do relaunch the series, you will be glad you didn't finish Dead Space 3.

The ending is truly woeful.
 

Arttemis

Member
I really disagree about bringing in spin-off characters. You're trading unnecessary love triangle baggage for unnecessary spin-off plot baggage. Isaac Clark's story doesn't need or have room for any of that.

The first two thirds of the game were pretty good, other than the dumb omni-ammo mechanic to push microtransactions. I had no problem with Ellie's relationship; broken people want to heal, and it's not easy. Clark is human, and denying him any deep relationship is inhumane.

The overt action at the end, and the forced, out of place soldier partner were unnecessary, but both pale in comparison to the shitty ending revelation of how the necromorphs arrive, and what they are. They overexposed what should have been left mysterious.
 

Dlink16

Member
I loved the first game, but never played the sequels. Seeing as things went downhill from there on out, i'll just hold onto that memory.
 
I actually really liked the use of that enemy in DS2, that stretch before the final encounter is incredibly tense. I'm glad they didn't give me the means to kill/trap it in the sequel.
I mean, it's pretty easy to deal with if you just use the javelin gun with a secondary fire followup, and you can use the detonator gun's tripwire mines as an insurance policy too. And, of course, it's really vulnerable to stasis. I just don't think it's great design - I'm fine with being chased by it through several areas but it'd be more satisfying to have a way to deal with it at the very end instead of just walking through the right door and no longer being followed by it because you triggered a cutscene.
 
Yeah. It was a bizarre turn from what made the first two games so good.

I think they had lost well more than half of the original team by time they had gotten around to 3 and I think it's altogether possible that by that point EA was completely driving the bus so to speak.

People failed to mention their ridiculous save point system. I particularly enjoyed getting halfway through a level...getting pulled away from the game because of life and then having to do the level all over again because I had not triggered one of their random save points.

That...and having a spawn point occur right where monsters were emerging from the snow. I was getting attacked even before things had fully loaded in.

Terrible...terrible game. (In comparison to the glory that which the first two are.)
 
I liked the moon stuff, at least conceptually. Necromorphs at that point were no longer scary (honestly that probably happened sometime midway through 2, if not earlier). They needed to raise the stakes, add something kind of crazy and unimaginable. Enter Necromoons.

But yeah, the story was kind of a mess. I didn't even mind the idea of a love triangle, but it just felt so contrived and unbelievable. At the least it needed more of an actual setup.
 

KissVibes

Banned
As a concept, the idea that the ever-present moon above earth was really a menacing alien threat that would destroy us all is pretty cool. The execution was lacking from a narrative standpoint. Also Dead Space 3 was such a slog to play. It became a generic shooter with uneven difficulty because IT'S A CO-OP GAME NOW, BOY.

So disappointing. I hope if EA makes a new Dead Space game, they pretend 3 didn't happen. Or do what they're doing with Mass Effect 4.
 
I actually really liked DS2. DS3 was a huge nose dive, that love triangle plot was god awful. Never finished it cause those horde sections got so boring.
 
I loved the first game, but never played the sequels. Seeing as things went downhill from there on out, i'll just hold onto that memory.


There are moments in Dead Space 2 that were so stressful for me I thought my brain and soul were going to get stress fractures.

Particularly on Hardcore Mode. So...so good. There's a stretch in DS2 just before the "end game" that revisits certain things and...holy fuck.

I miss those two games. It's a shame that 3 sullied the entire series as much as it did.
 
I prefer Dead Space 2 over the first, one of the best playing games last gen.

I'd say it's roughly Alien/Aliens with the first two games - basically a matter of taste between two excellent things. DS3 is basically Aliens vs Predator in comparison, or maybe Prometheus.
 
I....actually kinda liked the killer moons? Yeah it was hammy but I thought the idea that the real enemy, the biggest fuck off Necromorph ever had been sitting above your head the entire time was pretty creepy. Hell, its the very first thing you see when you get to Tau Volantis. Especially once you find out that it had been halfway through destroying the planet and the old alien species when they froze everything, with the whole "Turn it off" thing being the moon ordering you to free it so it can finish the job, and you with it. It was neat in an Eldritch abomination sort of way without losing that focus in immediate, visceral horror that Dead Space is mostly about.

And that scene at the end of Awakened when you get to Earth and it suddenly has, like, 6 moons around it? Such a great BAD END moment. It works very well for showing, immediately, just how boned the Earth is without having to go into a lot of detail or telling too much.

Evil Elton John was much worse at killing the moment than It Was The Moon All Along.
 

Kohlstream

Neo Member
Polygon gave it a 9.5. Hard to take that website seriously once I read that review after beating it.

I mean it's an ok game but it isn't even the best Dead Space. The love triangle storyline made me feel a bit embarrassed to continue on. The Saved by the Bell plot had more nuance.
 

Markitron

Is currently staging a hunger strike outside Gearbox HQ while trying to hate them to death
I mean, it's pretty easy to deal with if you just use the javelin gun with a secondary fire followup, and you can use the detonator gun's tripwire mines as an insurance policy too. And, of course, it's really vulnerable to stasis. I just don't think it's great design - I'm fine with being chased by it through several areas but it'd be more satisfying to have a way to deal with it at the very end instead of just walking through the right door and no longer being followed by it because you triggered a cutscene.

It's obviously trivial when you are well prepared for it, I didn't have either of those weapons equipped first time through IIRC (I'm a plasma cutter guy), personally I judge the quality of encounters on the first time I play them. Like I said I didn't feel the need to kill it as I had done that in the first game, a rehash of that scenario would add nothing to the game IMO.
 

Necron

Member
Never really bothered after Dead Space 2 due to all the negativity surrounding its sequel. Oh well... I miss the Dead Space series though.
 
I thought it was such a cheat when Ellie turned up not only alive, but completely unharmed, after her presumed death in DS3. Really took the punch out of what had been a powerful, dark moment in the game.
 

GavinUK86

Member
Pretty spot on OP. I agree. There's loads I LOVE about DS3 but it does so much wrong it's hard to see past them.

DS2 on the other hand, is one of my all time favourite games. It's a classic.
 
Kinda missed out on ds2 & 3. Really loved 1. Might go back and play 2.

Is dead space as a franchise done? Haven't heard anything about a forth game or anything.

I loved DS1 enough to carry me through 2 and 3.

I wasn't a big fan of 2 but it looks like an Oscar-winner compared to 3.

BUT I don't regret playing the trilogy. I enjoyed them as a whole more than most series (*cough* Assassin's Creed *cough*)
 
I loved the series but they just fucked it up so much with 3 that I couldn't even believe it. It's not only the co-op or the love triangle, they even managed to make the convergence and all the necromorph mystery kind of ridiculous at the end.
 

Admodieus

Member
I have no problem with the direction the overall story (moons) went; instead, it was everything else. The love triangle was lame but didn't bother me that much.

Instead I had issues with;

  • Changes to the save system, making it very unclear to the player when their progress was actually saved
  • Changes to the weapon/ammo system, allowing all guns to use "universal ammo"
  • Co-op that was forced in so that playing the game solo felt odd
  • The presence of microtransaction hooks throughout the game. Ignored these entirely, but still disappointing to see
 

Arkeband

Banned
After finishing DS2 I realized that was the full, told story, and had no interest in ruining that with 3. It's non-canon as far as I'm concerned.
 
100%, absolutely agree on just about every point.

DS1 is master class horror gaming. It's truly Alien to DS2's Aliens, which ramped up the conflict, more numbers but still contained.

DS3 doesn't really fit the Alien Series comparison. I'd say Alien: Resurrection to be mean but I don't think that fits, either. It's just off.
 
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