So I recently finished Dead Space, but not the original nor the newly released sequel, “Dead Space 2”. Instead I’ve been playing Dead Space for iPhone, and bloody good it is too.
From the outset the player is bombarded by polish and flashy production values from their menus to their (annoyingly) unskippable opening cutscene. It rivals Infinity Blade for sure (another title I’ve been recently plugging during those toilet gaming moments). Both EA and Epic have proven that AAA (or should we call it AA..?) is viable on iPhone, both titles raked in a nice amount of cash upon initial release and provide small instalments of cash thanks to in game DLC support…
Where was I?
Following the intro the game begins with your character (known as Vandal) in the familiar space mining armour from a surprisingly familiar viewpoint. Like it’s namesake the iPhone iteration shares the Resident Evil 4-esque over the shoulder camera and laser dot aiming with control coming courtesy of two invisible movement/look sticks placed wherever your thumbs lie on the screen – it actually works. Two things shocked me about this – one, that it was possible to recreate those visuals on a phone and two, that the control scheme would hold up.
However, unlike it’s console counterpart, the screen is littered with HUD icons to make up for the lack of a controller (they’re only really on screen when you need them). There were several moments where I wished for more screen space, which usually resulted in taking damage or completely missing a target – such issues are apparently fixed on iPad. The extra HUD is a shame, but it’s understandable (given the lack of a controller).
Even with the cramped screen the dismemberment focused combat still feels great – just as visceral and equally as fun. The quick time events were welcome, mixing up the combat and adding to the tension.
It’s not just tension that carries over from the home console version, the creepiness is intact. The visions the player encounters throughout the game are genuinely eerie. Though I wouldn’t really want to spoil any…
On my travels through the dark corridors of Dead Space, I didn't find any puzzles. Dead space puzzles were present to break up the pace and were more Resident Evil than Silent Hill; put this here, put that there, rotate, etc. This is a shame as there were a couple of moments in the original (one of which sticks in my mind) that shortly followed the first time the player is given telekinesis. The captain’s quarters if I recall - there was a secret room that could be accessed by sliding s shelving unit out of the way. It was relatively subtle and as such rather satisfying. Shame.
Some people will find the DLC tab in the in game store a little shameless – it’s purpose is to provide a fast track option to level up/complete the game, available to those willing to spend real money. I personally don’t mind this approach, though I’m fully aware this kinda thing would have existed in the form of cheats back in the good old days. Provided the money funds more software of this quality, I don’t mind – it’s subtle and very much optional.
Pick it up.