Dead Space 3: Why the 'dumbed-down' action game additions you're scared of actually make it a better survival-horror

That Universal Ammo from E3. It doesn't actually exist

The proliferation of “Universal Ammo” crates in the Dead Space 3 E3 demo rightly came across to many as shorthand for “This game is a pushover kill-frenzy”. It turns out that we were wrong with that impression. You see “Universal Ammo” is actually short-hand for “This crate is placeholder because we don’t want to blow the surprise of our new weapon selection by listing their names here”.

Above: Notice how there is no Universal Ammo in this screenshot... (Oh look, there were no suitable images in the press-pack, okay?)

So don’t worry. The final version of Dead Space 3 will force the usual rationing of ammo as it splits its drops between every weapon in the game (whether you’re carrying them or not). But right now not everything is finished, so the game is running a single one-size-fits-all ammo type. So Universal Ammo is not a problem. Because it isn't even a thing. Oh, and speaking of ammo…

There's (probably) a weapon crafting system, which would mean more cerebral combat (if it exists)

I found a whole crapload of bits of tat when playing Dead Space 3. Not just the usual ammo, money and saleable circuit boards, you understand. Oh no, there were all sorts of mechanical oojits and wotsits knocking around in cupboards, boxes, and the squishy, ever-kickable corpses of Necromorphs. That sort of proliferation of seemingly useless junk implies a crafting system to me. So I asked the Dead Space man if I was right. He grinned and said that yes, the weapon system was getting an overhaul, but that no, he couldn’t say any more.

Above: Think that gun looks cool? Wait 'til you're firing electrified Babybels out of it

So yeah, customisable weapons and ammo, I reckon. I could be wrong, but I reckon it sounds likely. Which should mean that building an effective arsenal is an even more laborious, thoughtful, and work-intensive process than before, but no doubt mighty rewarding with it once you melt the face off your first Necro using your brand new mousetrap-powered chocolate toaster gun.

Outdoors in daylight can be scarier than indoors in the dark

Moving a science fiction horror series from the dark and gloomy shadows of claustrophobic ships and space stations to the often wide-open, brightly-lit environs of a snow planet’s surface might have seemed an odd decision to some. But trust me, it’s a brilliant move.

What convinced me? The snow itself. You see the good thing with dark, claustrophobic corridors is that at least you always know where the walls are. Thus, you know where horrible things can come from. Yes, air vents and windows do subvert that from time to time, but as a general rule of thumb, wall = safe direction to point your back.

Above: Again, you're just going to have to trust me on this one. No snowy screenshots. There's a bit on the ground there though, if that helps. No, didn't think so

In a wide open environment though, every angle is a potential angle of attack. Wrap those angles in a blizzard to strip down visibility to a range of just a few feet, and you have a very scary prospect indeed. I know, because I spent an entire daylit, outdoor section of Dead Space 3 utterly crapping myself, even though nothing bad even happened in the end.

Build on that over the course of the game, and Dead Space 3 will be traumatising like a dog with a clown’s head.

A dead clown’s head.


So yes, Dead Space 3. Full of things that should utterly ruin it as a horror series, but still resolutely Dead Space despite it all. In fact because of a whole bunch of it, in conjunction with the laudable effort Visceral seems to be putting in to making sure everything just feels right. So I'm a happy man. You should be too. Unless you're a woman.

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.