A great deal of my enthusiasm for video games can be traced to my overall belief that they have the potential to someday communicate narrative-based experiences better then any other form of popular media. And while multiplayer, co-operative play and the internet at-large have radically changed how people share in the gameplay experience, it’s with an interest in the evolution of storytelling that I continue to study, play and create games. With that focus in mind, this month I’m at long-last jumping into the broad world of Dead Space.
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I’ve tried to get into the survival horror genre, but the gameplay mechanics have always bothered me; my characters feet act as if they’re made of lead while their arms are overly sensitive and I always wind up pointing the gun / knife / chainsaw at the sky instead of at the advancing zombie. What little I played of 2008′s Dead Space Dismemberment Demo allowed me to navigate just fine, but I still couldn’t figure out how to actually kill anything. Choosing to keep my distance from the horrifying creatures that scuttled at me from dark corners I fought back with a handgun, but shooting the body had no apparent effect, head shot’s were difficult thanks to the enemies skillful dodging abilities, and I died frequently. On top of this there had been no introductory text or movie to explain what was happening. Frustrated, confused, and thoroughly creeped out I deleted the demo after two attempts.
Several years on and the world of Dead Space has grown to include comic books, two movies and a planned novelization. When gameplay footage for Dead Space 2 was released late last year I found that people were somehow freezing enemies before strategically hacking off their limbs. This looked like a decent strategy. I asked a friend if this was an option in the first game.
“You mean stasis?” He asked.
“I guess yeah. Freezing the enemies, shooting their limbs off before they jump all over you.” I said.
“Yeah, thats stasis.” he said. “That’s how you play the game.”
So. Apparently I had avoided a game that 1) was firmly embedded in one of my favorite narrative genre’s (space horror), 2) busily expanding it’s storyline beyond games to include comics and novels, and 3) was by all accounts awesome.
This oversight must be remedied. To that effect I’ve made some calls, knocked on a few doors, and finally this week have acquired the following horde of transmedia entertainment;
- Dead Space – the comic mini-series (issues 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 of 6)
- Dead Space: Downfall (feature length animated prequel to Dead Space the game)
- Dead Space: Extraction (a rail-shooter prequel to Dead Space the game)
- Dead Space (the PS3 game)
- Dead Space: Aftermath (feature length animated sequel to Dead Space the game)
- Dead Space 2 (the PS3 game)
This weekend I’m jumping in, and will be moving through the narrative in as linear a fashion as possible.