With multiple animé films, comic books, an admittedly good Wii spin-off, an awful XBLA title, and now, the king of disguised marketing tat, the phone game, it’s not hard to make the accusation that EA has prostituted the Dead Space brand for all its worth. So naturally, it was with a cynical attitude that I booted up Dead Space on my iPhone 3GS one tuesday morning.
But after having been hooked to the point of delaying this review as a consequence of re-playing of the game, I can tell you exactly what my own pre- playthrough words taste like.
That being said, my own words were easily munched down compared to those that will have to be swallowed by certain other individuals, namely the cynics who claim that “hardcore” titles can’t work on the iDevice.
iDead Space (as I will hereby refer to it) completely murders this notion. Using an intuitive system that features close to no on-screen buttons, iDead Space’s controls just work. At no point do they become a barrier between the player and the game’s intended experience.
And what an experience it is. Set a few hours before Dead Space 2 kicks off, iDead Space takes place on The Sprawl, a metropolitan space station built around a Saturn moon. The game stars the anonymous Codename: VANDAL who is an operative for the Church of Unitology, a fanatical religious cult players of the original Dead Space will be all too familiar with.
Beyond that snippet, I shall reveal no more about the story, but suffice to say, it does an above-decent job of telling it’s tightly focused, novella-like story despite a narrative dry spell during the middle third, a problem the original Dead Space suffered from as well.
Come to think of it, damn near all of iDead Space’s flaws are shared with it’s console counterpart. On one (strategically dismembered) hand, it’s quietly impressive that the Dead Space experience has been transfered to the iDevice to such a full extent that criticisms leveled against the iPhone game match those leveled against the home-console counterpart. On the other, the samey-looking industrial corridors on The Sprawl grow just as weary on the eyes as they did on the Ishimura.
For better or worse, the game contains just about everything you might know, love or hate from Dead Space: “Strategic dismemberment”, monster closets, jump scares, flickering lights, hallucination scenes and and the upgrade system all make some well-translated appearances here.
Surprisingly, the game also features a realistic physics engine, and while the box-hurling action is not quite up to Havok standards, using kinesis to manipulate objects opens up opportunities for some creative necromorph killing, and, playing on Hard mode, using this as an ammo-conservation method is often critical.
Besides, there is something primally satisfying about killing things using nothing but iron crates.
Before I played it, I had mediocre expectations about iDead Space, and though I had considered the possibility that it might be good, I had no idea that it would be so very…Dead Space, which is either brilliant or terrible depending on your opinions on said game. Nonetheless, it is a polished, well rounded adventure of a calibre never before seen on the AppStore.
4 out of 5.