I really like the Dead Space series. The atmosphere, tension and the unique combat along with the creepy cult overtones. I especially like the not-so-subtle jabs at Scientology but that’s a whole other blog post right there. Dead Space 3 was released recently and while it has changed the formula up a bit to add more action bits it hit on all the right notes and even added my favorite horror environment, the wintry wasteland.
Now you might be thinking “This sounds like a review, oh god, is this a review?” Well it’s not.
What got me thinking while I was playing this game, with its new human adversaries, is that by the end of the game I was acting a lot like I did in any other action game. See movement, right click to aim, fire. The human bad guys didn’t really change anything up in that sense, I could’ve done entirely without them and just enjoyed them getting torn up by necromorphs as happened in the previous games. So I started wondering how might someone add a bit of extra tension to that mix even in a more action oriented game and my idea was pretty simple.
In any police training simulator I’ve seen (in the movies and games, of course) there’s always a bunch of shooters, some with hostages, and then civilians will pop up. You don’t want to shoot the civilians of course, so you’d have to take an extra second to consider who you were firing at. I think adding something like this to the more action oriented Dead Space 3 would’ve made it more interesting.
To give an example, let’s say we’re back on Earth in the beginning, and we’ve just been attacked by our crazy cultish friends. As you run through the streets firing at anyone or anything that moves, one of your neighbors comes bolting out of their apartment because they hear gunfire. If you shoot them, well, now you’ve just killed an innocent person who was trying to get away from the problem you caused. I don’t think there would be a need for a morality system a la D&D for this, just leave it with the player and it would still work.
However, if you really wanted some consequences have that neighbor be the complex security guard who could help you bypass a bunch of Unitologists by going through a service elevator or something. Maybe later you could have a Unitologist defector who, through convincing his fellows, would leave you alone and search for a way off the planet, taking those soldiers with him, if you don’t blow his arms off.
Now I realize that pretty much no other Action Horror (or Survival Horror) game does this sort of thing. (Except, The Walking Dead but that’s an adventure game, really.) You didn’t have to worry about winging a random maintenance worker in the tunnels under the Raccoon Police Department. Even in action games where you can kill off your allies, it doesn’t really affect anything long term. In Far Cry 3, if my warrior buddies got in my line of fire they would turn on me and I could either run away, or wipe them out. There really weren’t any consequences for it, which is fine, I might feel bad for killing them, or, I might really be a crazy war tourist looking to kill whatever’s in front of me. That’s up to the player.
As for Isaac, well, he might just be crazy.