Dead Space

Dead Space: Does the Sci-Fi Survival Horror Franchise Have a Future?


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13 comments, 860 points

*Author’s Note: This column features spoilers to Dead Space 3 and Dead Space: Awakened.*

Today I wanted to take a look at one of my favorite modern video gaming franchises, Dead Space.  We got our last taste of the franchise with Dead Space 3 early last year, followed by its subsequent story DLC release, Awakened.  Since that time, news and discussion about the future of the franchise has been worrisome.  Since the first game release in 2008, Visceral Games and Electronic Arts made Dead Space into quite the transmedia franchise, spawning comics, mobile games, collectibles, action figures, animated movies, and even books.  However, what about the games?  Dead Space 3 and Awakened left the franchise in such an uncertain state that the developers might have written themselves into a corner with the ending.

The original ending to Dead Space 3, while not wholly definitive, appeared to have a certain bit of finality.  Isaac Clarke, the main protagonist of the franchise, sacrificed himself and managed to save the life of his love, Ellie Langford, who escaped off the icy death trap that was the planet Tau Volantis.  We learned that Tau Volantis was not the Marker homeworld and the source of the signal that created the Necromorphs, but merely the homeworld of a civilized alien species who were also tricked and driven to extinction by the Markers.  The true source of the Markers and the ultimate Necromorph bosses are the Brethren Moons.  Apparently, Clarke and Carver gave up their lines to destroy one…or did they?

Enter Dead Space 3: Awakened.  Miraculously, Clarke and Carver are not dead!  In fact, they are inexplicably not dead.  How did they survive?  Aliens saved them, perhaps.  Clarke and Carver, in an effort to get the hell off Tau Volantis, find that they basically accomplished absolutely nothing.  The Markers are far from gone. A whole freaking network of Brethren Moons is out there, and they have made their way to Earth.  So basically, Earth is screwed.  The human race is screwed.  Clarke and Carver are screwed, and most likely, Ellie is totally screwed by proxy.  So, what is next?  Well, we don’t know.

Unfortunately, sales of Dead Space 3 did not meet the expectations of publisher EA.  There were various reports and rumors online that Dead Space 4 had in fact been cancelled.  EA, to their credit, denied those reports and promised that they haven’t killed the franchise.  However, there appears to be nothing on the horizon for Dead Space either.

Speaking to Eurogamer on the issue, EA Games Label head Patrick Soderlund stated, “I wouldn’t say it’s [Dead Space franchise] cancelled at all.”  He added:  “Dead Space remains a brand that is close to Electronic Arts’ heart. It’s been a great brand for us, done by a very passionate team.  Is that team working on a Dead Space game today? No they’re not. They’re working on something else very exciting. You have to think of it from that perspective. Is it better to put them on the fourth version of a game they’ve done three previous versions of before? Or is it better to put them on something new that they want to build, that they have passion for?”  While it’s good to know that EA still sounds committed to Dead Space, it doesn’t seem like there is any hurry to continue or resolve all those lingering issues of the franchise.

At times I found critics were unfair to Dead Space 3.  Fans and critics alike bemoaned the game’s micro-transaction component.  While you don’t have to like micro-transactions, not once did I have to resort to micro-transactions in order to beat the game on normal or hard.  Another common complaint was the move of the franchise in a more action-oriented direction.  For me, the action had always been present in the franchise.  The additional action in Dead Space 3 was simply like the transition of Ridley Scott’s Alien to James Cameron’s Aliens.  And this is part of why I find the Dead Space games appealing.  The gameplay and atmosphere create a feeling of playing through an alien movie.  As for the scares, I thought Dead Space 3 was still quite scary and freaky.  I was consistently on edge, scared brainless that a Necromorph monster would pop up at any moment and eviscerate me.  As for the game’s controversial co-op mode, I enjoyed the texture John Carver provided the gameplay.  He provided a dry wit and a sardonic, gallows humor.  The Carver co-op missions provided some of the headiest, creepiest, and most unsettling moments in the entire game.  And not only was the co-op mode optional, but if people actually played them, they would realize how those co-op only missions are ingrained deeply in the franchise.

For now, it appears that Visceral Games has moved on to another endeavor, that of a secret, untitled Star Wars project.  Hopefully, at some point, the company will get the chance to return to Dead Space and continue the franchise on the next-gen consoles.  It will be truly heart-breaking if the franchise ends with Awakened.


13 Comments

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  1. Possibly, just not future built on quality games. You caved in, you tried turning Dead Space into Gears. Series will never be the same, too bad, the first was one of the best games this generation.

    1. To me there is still a marked difference between the play style and atmosphere of Gears and Dead Space 3. I don’t think the more actiony moments were that different from previous games in the franchise or boss fights.

      1. Then you lack understanding. Sorry, kid, can’t help you out. It’s not a clone we’re looking at, it’s a wannabe. The basic structure of themes is dead, and so is the franchise in terms of quality. Not even the most vague of opinions will change the fact that the last game sucked, and the previous was, while not horrible, a step in the wrong direction.

          1. I don’t have opinions, I have facts. The kid part was a guess, but I doubt I’m off.

        1. I think that this is a really lazy argument.

          The architecture has the same primal, rotting ribcage aesthetics of Deadspace 1 and 2. An Engineer needing to salvage and improvise tools to overcome the grim situation has been a very consistent idea. Not to mention that the fundamental concept of the Moon of Tau Volantis is the literal definition of Dead Space. The only difference is that it is more influenced by ‘The Thing’ than ‘Alien’.

          The Lore is well established, it just expands upon the universe – It’s just a new story in that world. I kind of dug that Unitologists weren’t just an abandoned plot point because it was always clear that they held power among the citizens. Hence why I don’t have a problem with Human enemies.

          I will say that Carver should’ve been a Marker based hallucination caused by the Black Marker. Still would work as a potential Co-op plot point.

          1. Although you have a good point the bad thing about dead space 3 was it’s departure from horror and it’s unnecessary gameplay. The scares and tension was virtually gone. They had ammo clips, the supply of ammo was too much, they added microtransactions, made Isaac a bland character, creating ridiculous weapons that made necromorphs feel like an itch rather than a threat, tau volantis had potential to be a scary place but wasn’t, the duck and cover against soldiers, it’s story was ok but could’ve gone in a more original direction. There’s reasons why the game had lost a lot of jobs and stopped development of another dead space for a long time.

      2. dead space has more intense short cutscenes gears of wars u never that involved in a story like u are in dead space

  2. i loved all three of them to be honest, i wish there was a forth deadspace 🙁 i will forever love deadspace 1, 2 and 3 🙂

  3. I truly think they have already ruined the franchise by ending it the way they did. The article is right they have painted themselves in a corner. So all the moons are attacking earth and isaac and carver are supposed to stop them when it took a whole game just to stop one? I’m sure they will find some ridiculous loop hole to continue the story. I knew from the moment i saw DS 3 that this was the horrible end to this amazing franchise. I saw little bits of this horrible ending coming in DS 2 but gave the developers the benefit of the doubt that adding a little action wouldn’t be bad. They were right, it wasn’t bad. DS 2 had some action but still had scares. However DS 3 was terrible with too much action and not enough tension, lack of ammo or the fact you had a completely overpowered weapon. You think DS 3 was scary? Put DS 1 AND DS 3 side by side and tell me which one is scarier. If you say the first one it’s because THAT is the way the franchise should have been and kept that way only evolved upon for the second and third. Glen Schofield and his crew did it right….Visceral and EA ruined this franchise by trying to appeal to a wider audience and making it like a michael bay movie and they got slapped in the face for it. They deserved it. Now all we can do is wait and watch to see if this franchise has any shot….i hope it does. I love this franchise.

  4. I loved all 3 games…but unfortunately, I think it ended with Awakened. At the beginning of Awakened, Isaac woke up in a dream like environment. I think this was to signify he was dead. The Brother Moons ultimately wiped out the human race. Sometimes, the ending isn’t always a happy one, the the trilogy was definitely epic!

  5. it would awesome to see another game in dead space universe with those suits like in futuristic city and the authority all where those suits it would be cool