In a universe where the dead don’t die, but instead transform into hideous killer monstrosities a ‘la John Carpenter’s The Thing, you’d be hard pressed trying to get much shut eye. After all, it’s not just the undead that you’ve got to worry about, but the psychological stress of otherworldly forces, like the mysterious and enigmatic Red Marker, for instance.
Indeed, while the lore of the Dead Space franchise is overflowing with iconic sci-fi horror influences, it’s fair to say that not all of the games in the beloved series were created equal. In fact, the disparity in quality between them is surprisingly as vast as the vacuum of space. So, with all that in mind, here’s our ranking of all the games in the Dead Space universe.
6.) Dead Space Ignition
Coming in hot with the absolute worst of the bunch is Dead Space Ignition, co-developed by Visceral Games and Sumo Digital. Yep, don’t let the striking art above sucker punch you into a sale as this is easily the worst offender on this list. Beneath its bodacious exterior, it’s an unabashedly sub-par cash-in that fails to deliver any of the thrills or horror that the series is so renowned for.
Why’s it so rubbish? Well, to nearly every Dead Space fan’s chagrin, Ignition foregoes the classic survival horror gameplay that the foundation of the series was built upon, and instead opts for a throwaway puzzler experience with some Dead Space comicstrips grafted on to make it feel a little more legit. Thing is, the whole experience comes off as a joyless farce with nary a hint of fun.
Look, I’m all for experimenting and creating something new and unique in the franchise, but Ignition just felt flat and uninspired (read: incredibly boring). Really, playing Ignition is just as fun as playing with a cardboard cutout of a Necromorph. Actually, thinking about it, save your money and just buy a cardboard cutout of a Necromorph. Seriously, you’ll thank me later.
5.) Dead Space 3
Okay, I’m gonna come clean: I’m a bit of a Dead Space 3 apologist. In fact, I think Dead Space 3 is lightyears ahead of Ignition in the quality department, but it still falls short of the other entries on this list. You see, not only does the threequel take us back to the Marker homeworld of Tau Volantis, but we also see the return of charming go-getter, Ellie Langford from Dead Space 2, as well as the familiar face of series’ protagonist, Isaac Clarke, as they battle to wrestle the religious cult’s stranglehold away from the Marker.
While the plot is somewhat convoluted and the emphasis on action was a bit too hard to stomach for some fans, Dead Space 3 is still a fascinating trip, especially if you have a friend in tow to play it with. Yes, the third title was fully playable in co-op, which was a turn-off for many, but a welcome addition for some like yours truly.
Ultimately, the real kick in the family jewels was how EA locked the true ending of Isaac Clarke’s epic journey behind some paid DLC called Awakened. Let’s face it, that was never going to score any points with the fanbase, right? For shame, EA!
4.) Dead Space (Mobile)
Frankly, your knee-jerk reaction to a mobile version of Dead Space would probably be filled with cynicism — largely because successful mobile adaptations of triple-A video games are few and far between — but 2011’s mobile iteration of Dead Space is a surprisingly robust experience that effectively captures the tension and the horror of the franchise, and condenses it down to the small screen.
Dead Space (iOS) even features its own unique core story which is a totally fresh addition to the series. Specifically, the offshoot sees you stepping into the space boots of Karrie Norton, who is on a mission to sabotage Titan Station. Oddly enough, she’s a Unitologist herself who’s being used by the nefarious religious cult.
Unfortunately, these days, you can’t actually purchase the game anymore and even if you own the title, you won’t be able to play it as EA’s servers have now been shut down for good. Sad times.
3.) Dead Space Extraction
Much like the aforementioned mobile version of Dead Space, a first-person rail-shooter doesn’t sound like a really tantalising offering, but make no mistake: Dead Space Extraction is undoubtedly one of the highlights in Visceral Games’ acclaimed survival horror series.
In essence, Extraction is a prequel to the first Dead Space game and focuses upon a mining operation on Aegis VII that goes horribly awry. During the excavation of a mysterious Marker, the motley crew of miners — which interestingly includes Nicole Brennan, who goes on to play a pivotal role in the original title — are plagued by mind-bending psychoses before being beset by myriad undead beasts.
Funnily enough, Extraction centers on you trying to survive and escape from Aegis VII in your bid to finally make your way to the cosy and safe confines of… the USG Ishimura (Cue: dramatic music). Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire, right?
2.) Dead Space 2
I can imagine that the elevator pitch for the first Dead Space sequel was essentially: “Let’s take everything we crafted in the first game but make it, well… TEN TIMES SCARIER!” If it ain’t broke and all that, eh?
At its core, Dead Space 2 is a terrific sequel that builds upon its predecessor’s blood-drenched foundations in savvy and canny ways. Chiefly, it amps up the fear factor, introduces some new and creepy adversaries, and finally gives a voice to our underappreciated hero, Isaac Clarke.
Sure, while getting jump-scared for the umpteenth time by bloodthirsty Necromorphs as they silently creep up behind you may get a wee bit exhausting, there’s enough new story tidbits to satiate all you lore-hounds out there. Plus, it also has that iconic let’s-poke-a-needle-into-Isaac’s-eye sequence, which is one of the most unpleasant scenes in video games. Like, period. Seriously, I still have nightmares, man.
1.) Dead Space/ Dead Space Remake
Like a glorious Frankenstein-esque monster, Dead Space shambled onto PC and consoles back in 2008 and went on to become a bona fide masterpiece. Cribbing ideas from sci-fi horror cinema’s most terrifying films and monsters, it’s clear that Visceral Games’ original outing owes many of its debts to the big screen.
Combine this cinematic horror cocktail with the iconic location of the haunted hallways of the USG Ishimura, some superb writing and audio design, a handful of unorthodox mining weaponry, and a fresh new combat mechanic that tasks players with shredding the limbs from your foes to effectively put them down for good, and you’re left with the studio’s magnum opus.
While some have tried to re-capture the lightning in a bottle that Visceral Games managed to evoke with the OG, few have ever come close to its heady heights. So, here’s hoping there’s more in the pipeline for this beloved survival horror series, though, right?
So, that does it for our ranking of all the Dead Space games. For more, here’s our ranking of all the guns in the Dead Space Remake. Or if you’d prefer, feel free to take a gander at the links below.
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