It’s unclear when we’ll get our hands on the Dead Space remake, but that isn’t stopping us from poring over every detail revealed ahead of its release.
This remake will retell the events of the 2008 survival horror game while improving the gameplay, visuals, and story. Though the original game holds up well, a more refined take on modern hardware would help to preserve its legacy in the years ahead.
While it’s unknown what the exact details of the remake’s improvements will look like, one confirmed feature already has us excited. The upcoming Dead Space remake will be presented as a single, uninterrupted shot, according to EA Motive, the team behind the game.
This feature works especially well in narrative-driven games, allowing the player to be more immersed while following the main character’s journey. This single-shot method of presentation was implemented in 2018’s God of War in an attempt to make the game feel more personal — and if executed properly in Dead Space, it could very well be one of the best survival horror games of all time.
A more personal experience
The uninterrupted single-camera shot is something that has been implemented in films for quite some time. It’s an impressive and subtle means of showing off expertly planned choreography, memorization, and practice — and almost always looks good. Even more effective is when the shot lasts for a long time, often leaving the viewer in awe at the skill and preparation needed to make it work. (Take a look at this famous fight scene from 2003’s Oldboy to see what we mean.)
In the world of video games, the single “camera” shot is used as well, though it doesn’t appear as frequently since it’s difficult to execute properly. Or maybe it’s something that wouldn’t improve the overall quality of the game at the end of the day. God of War is one of the best examples of using this method effectively, but the single, uninterrupted camera shot was not added simply because it looks good.
“The aspiration when I got back was to tell a much more personal story,” God of War director Cory Barlog said in a 2017 Eurogamer interview. “God of War is traditionally known for these cinematic, pull back cameras, which I think are fantastic. But trying to get in there and really get to know the character a little more, I realized it'd be interesting if we got closer.”
And the results of this are stunning. Being able to successfully showcase other characters and cinematic moments while still telling a personal, immersive story from is not only impressive, but it aligns with the overall vision of the game.
Sure, it likely would have worked just fine with traditional cinematic cuts, but the uninterrupted single camera shot lets the player feel like they’re more connected to Kratos and Atreus.
Philippe Ducharme, Senior Producer for the Dead Space remake explained “Our intention is to offer a fully unbroken experience, it will be an uninterrupted sequence shot, from the start screen to the end credit, without interruption.”
The original Dead Space wasn’t too far off from this vision, surprisingly. Most of the experience takes place from an over-the-shoulder perspective, as you follow Isaac Clarke on his journey through the USG Ishimura. Though, the 2008 game featured cutscenes that were utilized to indicate a passing of time, or to introduce other characters.
While this method totally works, it’s far more effective to keep the camera alongside the protagonist if the aim is to create a truly horrifying experience. We might not consciously know it, but camera cuts break up the presentation in a way that could make the experience less immersive.
In a horror game, immersion is key. After all, why would you feel scared if you’re consciously aware you’re playing a video game and that none of what you’re seeing is real? That isn’t to say horror games with cuts aren’t successful — Developers all have different goals with what they’re looking to achieve across various games.
But in Dead Space, the developer wants the player to be so immersed, they lose track of time.
“The objective we gave to the whole team was to have players pick up the controller and completely lose track of time,” Philippe said.
“Like, they play through the entire experience without putting the controller down. That’s how immersive we want our game to be, that people just dive in and don’t come out until the credits roll.”
A cutscene or break in the immersion could present an opportunity for the player to set the controller down and take a break, so EA Motive has a chance to keep the player hooked by ensuring the camera never cuts.
The Dead Space remake is in development for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.