"Make us whole, Isaac. Make us whole."
TL;DR: Play as Isaac Clarke, the unluckiest son of a ♥♥♥♥♥(literally) engineer in video gaming history ever. Be haunted by a mysterious artefact that is somehow the key to stopping aliens(but still wants to kill you because plot holes).
Dead Space is supposedly a survival horror TPS game. While I personally don't think this game as a good horror game, it at least attempts(and sometimes succeeds), which is much more better then Dead Space 3(that game didn't even try).
This is what the game is about: you are part of a repair team, heading towards the USG Ishmura, the biggest 'Planet Cracker' in the universe. It sent out a distress call and lost connection, so you, as the engineer(you're accompanied by Kendra, a hacker, and Zach Hammond, a security officer, and his team), is to fix up Ishmura(and your ship as well, the USG Kelion) and find the source of the call. Of course, everything goes south when in the first 30 minutes, you become haunted by the 'Necromorphs', mysterious, grotesque and dangerous humanoid creatures that quickly panics the entire team. Now, since you're the only one able to do anything(because game protagonist logic), you have to find out what the ♥♥♥♥ happened here.
The game is kinda like what everyone calls it: Resident Evil in space. After all, the developers based the gameplay off of Resident Evil because they didn't have much time for development. Though there are very unique gameplay features in Dead Space.
The game doesn't have a HUD(Heads Up Display). Your health is represented by your RIG, the Resource Integration Gear. Everyone has one of these in the future- it a computer device(looks like a mechanical spine) that you attach on your back. Since this is a TPS, you can see your RIG most of the time, and as your health goes down, the bar on your RIG gets low(like how health bars get low), and it changes color to blue to yellow to red.
This game also has a inventory and a store system, so you press tab to see your inventory. When you press tab, your suit(you wear a engineering/or a mining suit that makes you look like a badass
) will display a hologram inventory screen in front of you. It fits in with the SF feel of the game, and is much more immersive then a generic HUD. Your ammo will also be displayed when you aim, much like Halo, though your number of clips is not displayed, so you have to check your inventory.
You will find money inside crates and corpses of Necromorphs, which can be used at the store to buy ammo, health packs, etc. You will also find schematics for new items so you can just install it at the store and buy it. New suit schematic are important as they increase your armor and inventory size. You will also find 'Power Nodes' to open 'Node Rooms', which has very good things like much needed ammo on higher difficulties, and most important of all, new schematics(there are only one schematic for one item, so if you miss that schematic, it's gone for good).
You can also go to the Bench and upgrade your RIG(armor, health, air, etc), weapons, your Stasis Module which slows down enemies and objects, and your Kinesis Module which picks up heavy objects without a use of ammo- very important in higher difficulties. You upgrade them with Power Nodes, so be careful- you never know if you'll find a Node Room right after you spend all of your Nodes on upgrades.
There are also good variety of weapons, though the first free weapon you get, the Plasma Cutter, is very versatile and is good at everything(it's basically the best weapon in the game. you never want to sell it) As you can see from the name, it cuts things. It's a tool for cutting rocks, but in this game, it's used to cut off limbs. Why? Because headshots or bodyshots doesn't work for these monsters. You have to make them useless by cutting off their limbs. They don't die just from headshots(though they do lose their vision), and their torso is made out of ♥♥♥♥ing metal or something.
So we know the gameplay is at least something, so move on to the story- it actually has a very deep world(that you get to know more about in the second game), and the story intrigues you right from the start. The atmosphere and the story in general is heavily inspired by a 1997 movie 'Event Horizon'. The box cover for the game(a hand floating in space) is a homage to a scene in the movie, actually.(the more you know) It has that general feel of 'what the ♥♥♥♥ happened here' like in Half-Life or Bioshock(this game probably did the best job on that), and finding out the mystery by checking out all of the text logs is pretty fun. The dispute between Kendra and Zach(Kendra says 'let's get the ♥♥♥♥ out of here', while Zach says 'We still have a mission') also seemed to be pretty good, though it stops right after Kendra disappears, then she comes back then Zach disappears.
Oh, and Isaac- you just gotta ♥♥♥♥ing feel for him. He doesn't talk(he does in the later games), but he just does all of these things, and everytime he screams of fear(his 'AHHHHRG!!' is very memorable in some death scenes), you can't but say "dude... this is ♥♥♥♥ed up.". And oh yeah, the death scenes in this game is notorious for being grotesque(much like the rest of the game), and it's true. It's the only thing all of the fans have praised throughout the series(the later games adds even more).
Let's take a look at some of the other miscellaneous things though- the graphics are not dated. It's good enough, and the gore is like I said, great(though I don't know if it's a good thing or not). The soundtrack is very similar to Half-Life's case. It's mostly ambient tracks, which makes the atmosphere a lot better, but lot less memorable.
So we narrowed down Dead Space, and is it a good game? Yes, it is. It's a great game in fact- and you can tell from all of what I said earlier. Though it still has its cons.
The controls. The game's notorious for having terrible mouse controls, while it gets better in the later games, and gets better in this game as well if you tweak some of the files, the fact that they haven't released a official patch on Steam makes me feel pain inside. The difficulty is also a problem. If you get used to it(and you will), it's really really easy. If you watch Jesse Cox's blind Dead Space playthough
, he plays it on Medium and does not die a single time(and he's known to suck at bideo gems). The boss fights are especially bad- you just shoot at the yellow balls and poof, you win. Every. ♥♥♥♥ing. Boss.
Also, the 'survival horror' part is very subjective- the game does a good job of jumpscares in fact. They pop out of the vents and sometimes sneaks up on you, etc. They even play dead sometimes. But all of the monster spawns are scripted, so if you know where they'll spawn(or if you played 70 ♥♥♥♥ing hours like me), it's not that scary at all anymore. The atmosphere still might still spook you, though many people have said that they are not even scared of that anymore. Dead Space 2 and 3 leaves the whole 'closed down environment' atmosphere behind(well, maybe not Dead Space 3), but Dead Space 2 has other things to scare you(spoilers!).
Except for that, there isn't much to say. I give Dead Space a 8/10, it's a great game. The execution is near perfect, though the minor gameplay issues and the bugs ruins it a bit. The storyline is still great though, and since it is even more expanded in the later games, I highly recommend you to buy Dead Space 2 and 3 as well. In my opinion(that I will explain in the Dead Space 2 review), Dead Space 2 is gamelay-wise better, and while Dead Space 3 was a huge disappointment, it's still a good game and you should try it out.