Dead Space Remake
Dead Space Remake retains the atmospheric horror of the original and improves on many aspects of the accessibility.
- Aim Assist with homing magnetism
- Optional Content Warnings
- Menu Narration
- Customizable subtitles and speaker names
- Difficulty setting enables automatic healing
- Colorblind Mode
- Background dialogue and ambient noises aren't subtitled
- Camera sensitivity is limited
You are trapped on the USG Ishimura, a space vessel with an unknown virus turning the crew into terrifying monsters. Can you make it out alive? Dead Space Remake is a survival horror sci-fi game published by Electronic Arts and developed by Motive Studio. It was released this year for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox series X/S, but I’m reviewing the PC version. Dead Space Remake retains the atmospheric horror of the original and improves on many aspects of the accessibility.
Dead Space Remake tells the story of, Isaac Clarke, an engineer aboard the Ishimura looking for his girlfriend Dr. Nicole Brennan after responding to a distress signal. Players will have to shoot hostile creatures known as Necromorphs from a third-person perspective, then learn the truth behind the outbreak and escape before it’s too late. There are also mechanical puzzles, brief scripted QTE’s, and exploration with limited air supply in zero gravity. Dead Space Remake is a reimagining of the 2008 original game, completely built from the ground up with updated visuals, side missions, content warnings, and more accessibility options.
After booting up the game, I was presented with accessibility options almost immediately in a pop-up menu titled “Initial Settings.” It’s here where I noticed that subtitles were automatically turned on and menu narration could be accessed and audibly recognized instantly.
This menu offered basic customizable options for things like subtitles, menu narration, difficulty settings, and content warnings. However, at the bottom of the menu was a tab labeled “More Settings.” As it implies, I found more advanced ways to customize accessibility here, as well as a designated Accessibility tab.
Combat Controls and Camera Sensitivity
Dead Space Remake has fully customizable controls for every keyboard key and even the mouse scroll wheel. Weapon swapping is an option available to automatically switch guns as ammo runs out. Controller support is available and QTE’s can be customized for holding down one button or single presses.
In combat, Dead Space Remake has very fast-paced shooting mechanics to deal with swarms of enemies that can quickly overwhelm the player. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, Dead Space has unique enemies called Necromorphs, the main enemy in the game which have deformed/elongated limbs that are actually their weak points. That’s right, shooting them in the head won’t necessarily help.
During my playthrough, I unlocked two abilities called Stasis, which slowed down the movement of enemies temporarily, and Kinesis, which allowed me to levitate objects and pull them towards me. Stasis bought me time making enemies slower, and Kinesis turned regular objects and even corpses into projectile weapons.
The big issue I have is that while the controls offer customization for things like mouse sensitivity, trigger dead zone, and camera axis speed, in practice the camera sensitivity is very limited. There’s an option to have the camera automatically centered upon movement. However, this didn’t take into account enemies that appeared behind me (if you see an air vent…be afraid), which happened often.
Don’t Aim For The Head
Thankfully, Dead Space Remake has five difficulty settings that make combat much more forgiving: Story, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Impossible. Story mode gives 2 minutes of oxygen during Zero-G, 90 seconds on Easy mode, 70 seconds on Medium, and 60 seconds on Hard and Impossible mode. I highly recommend the Story mode for disabled gamers with fine-motor skill impairments.
I experienced the benefit of the automatic healing first hand near the beginning of the game, after the crew gets separated and Isaac is surrounded by Necromorphs. Since I didn’t have a weapon yet, all I could do was run. Even after a minute and a half of pummeling, Isaac’s health had not been depleted and I was shocked!
The autosave function activating every time I entered a new room, was very helpful for calming my nerves. There are very few loading screens and icons in Dead Space Remake, so it was sometimes difficult to know when the game had autosaved. There’s also plenty of “Save Stations” throughout the environment for manually saving.
Dead Space Remake has a wonderful Aim Assist mechanic that also helps with the fast-paced combat. I turned on Aim Assist in the accessibility tab, but there were other options to customize Aim Assist friction (which controls the camera’s rotation speed as enemies come closer), Aim Assist magnetism, and there was a slider to choose the duration of magnetism.
Once I started the mission to look for the Medical Bay, I saw the strength of the Aim Assist magnetism. Even as I fired the Plasma Cutter gun imprecisely at enemies, I could still see my projectiles homing in on the Necromorphs. I specifically remember running through multiple areas with Zero-G that also included combat, but the Aim Assist made each of these moments a breeze to get through.
Hide the Horror
EA’s accessibility department have been adamant about giving players more control over content, offering customizable Content Warnings depending on the player’s comfort. I found when I turned on these warnings, I could see a small pop-up alert on the top right-hand corner of the screen. They faded in slowly and appeared with a brief description of the content about to be shown, but they never overstayed their welcome.
A second feature included with this is the option, Hide Disturbing Scenes. When this is turned on, not only will content warnings appear, but also extreme gore/violence will then be censored.
Scenes with excess blood will be obscured by a pixelated filter and even if Isaac himself dies a graphic death, the screen will just fade to black (this only applies to visuals not audio). I rarely see horror games let players protect themselves from triggering content, so good on the developers.
Hello Darkness My Old Friend
Dead Space Remake utilizes the fear of the unknown by having its space vessel’s corridors shrouded in darkness. Even so, there’s a brightness slider in the options menu for those who need it. Motion blur can be completely turned off for those sensitive to it, and the film grain filter can also be disabled.
There’s an extensive Colorblind Mode which supports three of the most common forms of colorblindness: Tritanopia, Deuteranopia, and Protanopia. There is an instant preview for this feature and even a slider which specifically affects the contrast in Colorblind Mode.
What Was That Sound?
A big part of the horror in Dead Space Remake has to do with the unsettling sounds heard aboard the Ishimura. Whether it be a startling clang from the pipes in a wall or distant screams heard from below, Dead Space Remake uses sound to play tricks on the player. There is a master volume and individual sliders for sound effects, music, and dialogue.
Subtitle options have been completely overhauled so more people can experience the horror of Dead Space Remake! I could enable subtitles, turn on speaker names, or color-coded speaker names. There was also sliders available for font resizing, background opacity, and I could even make the font all-caps. Subtitle font can be switched from black to white, and the opacity color can swap from light to dark to match the font.
Subtitles in the game already do a good job expressing context with italics and showing when someone is shouting off-screen. Background dialog or ambient sounds aren’t subtitled, so I feel that deaf players will miss out on some of the atmosphere. There’s a point later on in the game where Isaac starts hearing disturbing voices (hinting at possible infection or deteriorating sanity). It won’t interfere with enjoying the main story, but I thought it worth mentioning.
Still, the development team was clearly dedicated to accessibility, bringing features like the menu narration, which sounds clear, but with a volume slider players can choose how loud it projects. The menu narrator reads titles, descriptions, and player selections.
During gameplay, the menu narrator will read whether doors say open or locked. In the inventory, the narrator will read individual items and mission titles. I’m hesitant to confirm whether blind gamers can utilize this feature successfully because the menu narrator doesn’t read text logs, tutorials, and is turned off by default.
Dead Space Remake is by far the best remake of a video game I’ve ever played! It kept everything that made the original scary and improved the controls and accessibility. Disabled gamers with fine-motor skill impairments should be able to handle the combat because of a combination of aim assistance and the automatic healing in the Story difficulty setting. The added Content Warnings let many players customize and hide disturbing visuals, but deaf gamers may lose some context because of the lack of captions.
A review copy of Dead Space (Remake) was provided by the developer / publisher.