After the release of Dead Space 3, a title that introduced many new elements to the third-person horror series such as cooperative play and offline resource accumulation while also straying a bit from the game’s traditional horror roots, many thought the series would never see the light of day again. However, according to a new article by Eurogames writer Connor Makar, developer Visceral Games had some interesting ideas for a possible re-animation of the beloved series.
It’s important to note that the key word in that previous sentence is HAD. However hard it may be to accept, Dead Space 3 failed commercially, leading to EA to commit long-term to the development of the Battlefront titles and scrap Visceral Games. Visceral games has long since bitten the dust – what’s written here is simply a recounting of what could have been if the franchise was given a second chance.
Makar spoke to Ben Wanat, former creative director of the Dead Space titles, to find out some of the ideas for a fourth Dead Space title.
In the Dead Space universe, things were looking bleak. The previous game basically had players witnessing what would essentially be the end of the world, but Dead Space 4 would have players experiencing these phenomena from a smaller perspective.
“The notion was you were trying to survive day to day against infested ships, searching for a glimmer of life, scavenging supplies to keep your own little ship going, trying to find survivors.”
Wanat had wanted the fourth title to focus more on the stronger struggle of survival and maintenance, rather than accomplishing some larger goal of halting the ongoing apocalypse. He mentioned that the team was exploring options to make previous gameplay mechanics much less linear, and to have a more in-depth repair mechanic “than just sticking your arm in a panel and moving some wires around”.
“I figured you’d start in a section of space, maybe following a trail of ship carcasses to an orbital station you think might have the parts and fuel needed…You’d start to form a picture of what happened in that region while fighting through scores of Necromorphs from ship to ship.”
From the sound of it, this game would feature advanced exploration and world mechanics that would make it more akin to something like a first-person simulation title along the likes of Deus Ex or 2017’s PREY. The game would feature systems that allowed for and encouraged exploration, as well as complex management and building mechanics that would allow players to customize their progress.
This sort of system would put Dead Space more in line with the likes of an Open-World title, which was where the game seemed to be heading anyway as each successive title in the three-part series featured gameplay areas that were more and more open and spacious.
This greater focus on exploration would also mean more time would need to be spent in the series’ trademark zero-g segments, which would mean a redesign for Necromorphs in such segments would also be important as they would need to be able to properly place the players into more stressful situations.
For this, Wanat talked about “a zero-g enemy that can snake through zero-g corridors, propel itself in open space, and grapple with the player to tear off his mask and eat his face,” which sounds about par for course in the Dead Space universe.
Wanat also mentioned that him and the team had some idea of how they wanted the series to end, but he refused to spill the beans on those ideas in case EA decides to reconsider their deconstruction of the studio and wants to make another offering for the series down the line.
“I don’t want to give away the lore, but I will say that we spent a bit of time working out the origin of the Necromorphs and what purpose humans held in this dark universe,” says Wanat. “Would players find a way out of the Necromorph apocalypse? I’d say yes, but they might be sorry they did. Sometimes you’re better off with the devil you know…”