IDL FEATURE – Day 6: Dead Space

For this category I had the hardest choices and sacrifices to make, but I chose: Spec Ops: The Line, Dead Space, and Gears of War.

Honourable Mention: Mass Effect 2 (An RPG, I know, but I don’t really like RPGs. And the only reason I played this trilogy was because it was a shooter, so deal with it.)

Day 6 – Dead Space

Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Dead Space was a real breath of fresh air (HAH. Get it? Cuz we’re in space?) out of a company that, for years, had been regarded as a soulless machine, pumping out only annual titles, not taking any risks. The company I’m referring to is Electronic Arts: king of the sports titles.

Dead Space was a risk, but it was a step in the right direction for EA. For a notable period of time EA was only pumping out Need for Speed titles, The Sims, and annual sports titles, or buying up other studios, and shutting them down and NOT gambling on any new IPs. Year after year they were winning the distinguished “Worst Video Game Company”. Not something to be proud of. But EA claimed that they heard our pleas, and in return, in 2008, published Dead Space, from Visceral Games – originally EA Redwood Studios.


Dead Space is a science fiction survival horror game. We play as Isaac Clark, an engineer, and while responding to a distress call, land on a  mining ship looking for our girlfriend, and end up finding only necromorphs – or reanimated human corpses.

The game is slowly paced, with creepy dark corridors, heavy breathing, screeching music, and plenty of jump scares. The two notable parts of the game is its unique HUD design, and tactical shooting mechanic.

HUD first: The game has no HUD. We see Isaac from a 3rd person perspective, and can be either angled over the left or right shoulder. The weapons have their own ammunition read out, and the “HUD” is made up on a projected holographic display. This is broadcasted in front of the player’s suit upon command, and this is how we view the map, inventory, and any video messages.

Second is the shooting mechanic. The game, as mentioned, is slow placed. We’re wearing a heavy mining suit on a space ship with artificial gravity, so it makes sense. But the shooting mechanic is tactical in nature. The game calls it “Strategic Dismemberment”. Body shots, or head shots will not stop an enemy. The goal is to focus on the limbs. The plasma cutter is the primary weapon, and is used to slice off the legs and arms of the approaching enemies to stop them, and then you can stomp them to death when you’re done. The game showcases many enemy types, and many weapon types, inventory management, suit upgrades and crafting.

The game’s last notable mention is the Zero Gravity zones, where we get to float around a large environment, while being propelled around with our space boots. Sometimes even in space! SPAAACE!

Dead Space was a slow, creepy horror game that spawned two sequels. That said, the sequels sadly drifted away from the original creepy horror mechanics that made the game awesome. The third one did offer co-op though, which was an acceptable inclusion.

<– Last Week – Spec Ops: The Line
Tomorrow – Gears of War –>



In a random gift of love and affection towards my PC, I jumped onto Steam and perused the list of games that had been Recommended For Me. First one to show up was a little nifty game called The Swapper.

Title: The Swapper
Developer: Facepalm Games
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS3, PS4, Vita, WiiU
Publisher: Facepalm Games
Reviewed on: Windows


Not really knowing anything about the game other than it was a puzzle platformer (gathered from the trailer), I jumped in. The Swapper is a sci-fi themed space game. You play a scavenger who crash lands on – and is now stranded aboard – a research station that appears abandoned. The goal, I suppose, is to find out what’s going on around this space station, and obviously try to escape.


As the player, you acquire a hand-held cloning tool which allows you to create up to four simultaneous clones of your character, and grants you the ability to swap your consciousness across each one, as long as they are within sight. Once created, the clones mimic the moves of the player as long as there are no obstacles in their way. The clones can also die from falling from a great height or through general environment hazards. If a clone dies, they’re reclaimed and can be re-spawned. Clones can also be reclaimed by being absorbed by the player.


Time also slows down when creating a clone with the Swapper and this game mechanic allows the player to traverse vertical areas. You can shoot a clone up towards the ceiling, and swap your consciousness over, and while the clone is falling in slow-motion, you can then create a 2nd clone to the platform you wish to reach (previously out of the field of view of the original player) and swap again.

Some rooms also have certain lights sources to illuminate the area. Blue, Red, and Purple – these lights can either prevent the clones from being created, or will prevent the player from swapping their consciousness to the clone across the room, or both. This is where using multiple clones to activate triggers comes into play. The puzzles themselves are very smart and do require thought and persistence at times.

The goal in each area is to acquire the orbs that activate the teleporters which then allow us to activate the next area.


As you progress throughout the space station you come across terminals that start to tell the story of the game. Similar to Dead Space, the crew of this station have found space rocks on a nearby planet, and the rocks themselves seem to give off this electro-wave activity, leading the crew to believe that the rocks are somewhat alive or conscious. Once aboard, the rock’s telepathic abilities start to penetrate the minds and dreams of the crew, and without cause or reason, they start to die off, leading the remaining members to believe that the rocks themselves are driving the crew mad. Unfortunately they’ve brought so many aboard they can no longer get rid of them.

We actually come across these telepathic rocks throughout the game, unknown are their effects on us, but they do tend to share their disturbing thoughts with us.


The game is straight forward in its design, and it looks very pretty, with superb use of bloom effects for lighting and depth of field. The characters actions are limited to walking and jumping, and there are gravity sections that will require the use of the Swapper to boost around. These areas can get very disorientating as the room itself rotates, and not the player. There is also the opportunity to use the occasion physics object to activate triggers or hold up walls.

The game’s atmosphere is to be lauded. Its quiet and creepy, deep and loud sounds can make you eager to press on, or have you looking over your shoulder. The score, with piano being the main instrument, tends to reveal the vast emptiness of this space station we’ve found ourselves in. Makes us feel very alone.


For those who like platformers, creepy empty space, or watching their clones walk off ledges.