After months of rumors and reports that indicated a Dead Space remake was on the way, Electronic Arts confirmed the speculation with an appropriately creepy reveal during EA Play Live 2021. The original game is a classic horror experience, so a remake taking full advantage of current-generation console hardware with a talented team like Motive Studios in charge could easily end up one of the best Xbox games around. We're excited for this Dead Space remake, but we're not all-in yet.
The initial teaser was brief but EA seems to be taking the right approach. It's been over 12 years since Dead Space launched, so a remake is a great way to gauge interest possibly in expanding the franchise. It allows Motive Studios to cut their teeth before making an original title, helping the developers understand just what makes Dead Space Dead Space. If this remake is successful, I wouldn't be surprised to see Motive allowed to fully control the franchise, remaking Dead Space 2 or perhaps even taking the story in a new direction.
Essentially, this remake is an exciting opportunity to jumpstart the franchise, all while giving players a revamped version of a classic experience. Having the Dead Space remake be exclusive to current-generation hardware in the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PS5 is a smart call, allowing the team to do things like completely eliminate loading screens and bring in 3D audio.
EA has to show that giving this to Motive is a long-term commitment, not just a quick announcement made to score PR points.
However, we need to see more than just a quick teaser. Motive spoke with IGN about changing the gameplay up with things like dismemberment improvements or looking to other parts of the Dead Space series for inspiration. I hope we can soon see what that actually means.
This project is grander in undertaking than any remaster or port EA has previously done. BioWare did a good job with Mass Effect: Legendary Edition and I hope to see the Dragon Age games given the same treatment, but a remake is a huge step up from a remaster. To this date, EA hasn't put out a proper remake of any of its games. The amount of potential the project has goes hand-in-hand with how tricky it'll be to get it right, especially since it's suggested that this isn't a straightforward retelling. Motive Studios openly noted in the aformentioned IGN interview that the story and characters will see some changes.
"For us, the foundation is the Dead Space 1 story. So, by default, that's what is canon. But then there are some improvements that we want to make to that story," said creative director Roman Campos-Oriola.
The audience for this kind of high-quality survival horror game is certainly hungry. Capcom alone has proven there's a market for high-quality horror remakes, with Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 selling over 8.1 million and 4 million copies, respectively.
There's a key difference though, as the original Resident Evil games were essentially unplayable, unavailable on modern systems, and played completely differently than the more modern entries in the series. By contrast, Dead Space is showing its rough edges — getting the original game to run on PC isn't a smooth process and it's unavailable completely on PlayStation platforms — but the game can is still very playable. Motive will have to be more creative in showcasing the improvements, all while staying faithful to the 2008 game. It'll also have to make the case that these improvements will be worth the asking price.
Visceral Games, the original developer, was shut down less than four years ago. I'm all for redemption arcs and companies understanding what fans want, and I'm optimistic, but EA has to show that giving this to Motive is a long-term commitment made to bringing back one of horror's most beloved gaming titles, not just a quick announcement made to score PR points.
The initial teaser has me excited. My mind is racing as to just what this remake will look and play like. I want to celebrate that Dead Space is back, perhaps even here to stay this time as a pillar of EA's hardcore gaming franchises. But we need to see more.