Motive Studio’s remake of Dead Space has been out for a little over a week, and to little surprise, it’s doing numbers in the industry. Our review of it was stellar, as Motive successfully managed to faithfully recreate the survival-horror sensation that swept the nation back in 2008 while carefully adjusting bits and pieces to make it a complete experience.
After years of the “true remake” debate, the Dead Space Remake has given a solid definition of what a remake should look like moving forward. I’ve been pretty vocal about Dead Space to anyone who will listen or read about it as someone who’s been dying to see the remake mill start spinning again (I’m looking at you, Sony).
My playthrough has been overwhelmingly positive for the reasons I listed above, and I can’t wait to see what comes next from Motive Studio, whether it be Iron Man and/or Dead Space 2. Yet, aside from scarring me as much as it did when I played all those years ago at 5 am before school, my time aboard the Ishimura has left me in an odd state of remorse.
Seeing Dead Space so carefully reforged has me focused on that other survival-horror game that launched nearly two months ago: The Callisto Protocol.
Yes, I can’t believe it, either. It’s been two months since Striking Distance Studios’ title launched, and for a game that was so hyped up, it came, went, and was sentenced to serve its prison sentence in the solitary confinement of Callisto with no visitation rights. Let’s get one thing straight; The Callisto Protocol isn’t a bad game. It was just an unfortunate series of events that started in 2020 when the Dead Space co-creator showed up at that year’s Game Awards, announcing his next project was a spiritual successor to the series he so nightmarishly assembled.
As we got closer to the release of The Callisto Protocol, it became more and more apparent that this title would be Dead Space, albeit with that guy from Transformers (Josh Duhamel) who somehow ended up in prison. The Kinesis ability was there, the display nearly identical, and the nightmarish monstrosities looked like relatives, making my personal hype skyrocket to the moon. Dead Space still held up well all these years later, some form of replication of that blueprint featuring minor tweaks was destined to succeed.
The Callisto Protocol finally arrived in December, and the final product is far from what I ever could’ve imagined. There’s no doubt it’s one of the best technical showcases of all time, as Black Iron Prison looks as fierce as a space prison could, character models look exquisitely detailed, and combat is as visceral as ever.
Yet, it’s the other things that faltered, ultimately making me quit my playthrough before the halfway point. While Isaac Clarke’s trek through horror felt like a surgical experience as you carefully dismember Necromorphs and your sanity, The Callisto Protocol felt like a worse version of For Honor as you senselessly beat up everything in Black Iron Prison like a piñata.
I want to give Striking Distance Studios the benefit of the doubt by mentioning the team was probably aiming for an authentic prison experience. However, I’m 95% sure prison is nothing like this, with the other 5% unsure what the darkest depths of prison resemble.
The Callisto Protocol was a bit of a letdown, and as story DLC and new death animations launch later this year, it furthers adds to the pain of what this title could’ve been, as Dead Space shipped complete out the box. This experience could’ve featured Clarke Isaac, who fights “Velcromorphers” aboard the USJ Ishimoora; I wasn’t expecting this project to be the evolution of survival horror or as massive as the expectations Cyberpunk 2077 had when it was announced.
Honestly, though, I was let down, and it hurts knowing this could’ve been the timeline where survival-horror’s new challenger raises the bar, even slightly. As someone in a YouTube review for the Dead Space Remake said “Who knew the spiritual successor to Dead Space would be Dead Space?”