Dead Space. It’s a beloved horror series – one that yours truly can’t stop talking about on stream! Yet there are more Dead Space games than you may be aware of. So it’s my duty to introduce you to the best Dead Space games, and one very, very bad one. It’s time to grab a plasma cutter, cut off the limbs of terrifying necromorphs, and decide once and for all (on this website) which of the Dead Space games reigns supreme!
DEAD SPACE IGNITION – CHOOSE YOUR OWN (BORING) ADVENTURE
It’s extremely rare to find something bad in the Dead Space canon. There’s even a good animated tie-in movie, Dead Space: Downfall! So you can understand why fans were surprised at Ignition being the exact opposite. Among the Dead Space games, Ignition is regarded as – well, existing. A choose your own adventure title exploring the hours before Dead Space 2 kicks off, you’d think it’d be a great ride. Oh, if only.
The story is terrible, setting up a one-note character who barely matters in Dead Space 2. The art is a mess due to Ben Templesmith being unavailable, so a very rushed substitute fills in the gaps with barely legible at times ‘motion comic’ scenes. The minigames that stitch the branching narrative together are three poorly assembled bundles of code. Ignition barely functions at all, which is a shame as it was born with a solid premise.
Ignition also unlocks a few extra perks and a new suit in Dead Space 2 on consoles. You don’t even have to finish the game to unlock these bonuses. As if openly admitting that no one would play Ignition, you just need to finish chapter one. That’s all Ignition has. Plus on PC, you can just use a modified save file for Dead Space 2 since Ignition never released there. It’s best to pretend Ignition isn’t among the Dead Space games at all, because it’s the sole low point of the franchise’s games.
DEAD SPACE 3 – THE MISUNDERSTOOD FINALE
Dead Space 3 is commonly regarded as the low point of the Dead Space games. Obviously it’s not, given Ignition exists, but Dead Space 3 definitely suffered a tumultuous development cycle. Across multiple pivots from action game to survival horror on top of achieving the co-op mode envisioned as far back as the original Dead Space, Dead Space 3 is… a mess. A fun mess, but one that compromises in every direction.
Dead Space 3 is worth playing, but can outright contradict why you’d play the other Dead Space games. It’s less survival horror and more pure action horror, thanks in part due to the weapon crafting. You can create the perfect pair of weapons in all but one mode of the game. Then you blaze through hordes of enemies in what can be best described as Army of Two in space. Ironically the co-op aspect doesn’t really heap on the action feel – it’s that loot grind to hone your arsenal that demolishes the survival tension.
THE SERIES’ PROBLEM CHILD
It also has the most drastic shifts in content. It starts off with a throwback to the first game. Next, it delves into an almost Borderlands-esque terrestrial experience on a planet. Finally, it ends in bombastic cosmic horror like Dead Space 2 with you fighting a literal moon-sized monstrosity. There’s also about an hour of co-op exclusive horror content, and an overpriced two-hour DLC that only serves to undercut the final moments of the main game.
Taking all this into account, Dead Space 3 is still plenty of fun, but it’s certainly not the kind of fun most fans were looking for. It’s a real shame it has so many rough spots, because it has some brilliant ideas on paper. Like, instead of just going up against human enemies, you’d fight them and necromorphs simultaneously, leading to a bunch of three-way battles. The weapon crafting, with some better balancing, could’ve been something special.
Despite offering the most content out of any entry in the series, so much of it ends up being filler rather than killer. This also goes for the storytelling, which is bloated with whiny characters bickering incessantly.
As it stands, Dead Space 3 is never bad, but its bright spots are swallowed up in a sea of average third-person shooting. It’s a disservice to all the hard work put into it, a sum of its parts working against inspired ideas.
DEAD SPACE MOBILE – TAPPING INTO HORROR ON THE GO
Dead Space Mobile shouldn’t be possible. It’s a true, fully 3D, over-the-shoulder, responsive third-person survival horror game… for decade-old phones. With just two thumbs, you can experience a tight, rock-solid Dead Space experience on the go with better controls and presentation than some PS Vita games. Set between the first two Dead Space games, Mobile features a new protagonist with unique weapons.
Mind you, a handful of compromises are made. Healing is automatic, you swap weapons with an on-screen HUD element, and the voice acting is mid. Yet for a budget experience on the go, Dead Space Mobile is a cut above the rest. The iOS version even received a free horde mode update with survival and score attack challenges. It was such a complete package that it’s an absolute tragedy EA never ported it to modern phones or handhelds.
Seriously, that’s the crime of Dead Space Mobile. Your best bet at playing it is via a fan-made remaster for the Android version. It lacks horde mode but at least features the main campaign. It’s not even that the original developers don’t exist anymore. Fire Monkeys still work for EA, most recently on racing and The Sims mobile games. There’s no reason not to grant this gem a second lease on life as a budget Switch title.
DEAD SPACE – THE AMBITIOUS, FLAWED ORIGINAL
Dead Space, obviously, started it all. A hybrid of Event Horizon, The Thing, and Resident Evil 4, Dead Space was a breath of fresh air in 2008. A brand new horror IP, standing tall when most horror veterans like Resident Evil and Silent Hill were struggling. EA Redwood earned their new name as Visceral Games with one of the goriest, most intense survival horror titles to date. It’s also only a tad less messy than Dead Space 3.
Don’t get me wrong – Dead Space is great. It just also suffers from a surprising number of similar issues. There’s a lot of backtracking and re-used environments. Enemies tend to get spawned in large waves rather than intricate encounters. Certain mechanics like stasis and telekinesis are far sloppier than at any other point in the franchise. Two infamous turret sections grind the pacing to a halt. The story is also the weakest in terms of dialogue and acting, with only two likable cast members.
Looking past these growing pains, Dead Space remains a classic 7th gen horror gem worth experiencing. It still looks incredibly good for a game over fourteen years old, particularly in its lighting and atmosphere. The sound design is astonishing. Combat is a great time, with some weapons being more inventive here than in later entries, particularly the military rifle with its rotating alternate attack. It might not be the height of the series’ potential, but Dead Space remains a thrilling ride.
DEAD SPACE: EXTRACTION – WHY IS THIS NOT RE-RELEASED IN VR EA, I MEAN SERIOUSLY!
Dead Space: Extraction is simultaneously one of the highest regarded yet obscure Dead Space games. By far the most divergent full console release as an on-rails shooter, only to prove to be a fan favorite. Well, if you actually played Extraction, that is. Developed in concert with the first game as EA’s big swing at an M-rated Wii title, Extraction sold horrendously. Despite a second lease on life on the PS3 with PS Move support – bundled with copies of Dead Space 2 no less – Extraction is the definition of a hidden gem.
Set both before and during the events of the film Dead Space: Downfall, Extraction follows a rotating set of playable characters. Not all of them make it to the finish line, but each level gets you one step closer to escaping. It follows the original outbreak that kicks off the events of the first game with an impressive attention to detail. The sheer amount of continuity between Extraction and the Dead Space expanded universe is incredible. There are even nods to what would come up in future stories, including the setting of Dead Space 2.
RIDING THE RAILS TO VICTORY
By nature of being an on-rails game, you sacrifice personal mobility for refined control over your arsenal. The Ripper in particular has never been easier to control, letting you whip the blade around at incredible speeds. There’s exclusive weapons and alternate firing modes for returning tools in your arsenal as well. On top of the story campaign, you get a full-length challenge mode with unique environments for added replay value, and split-screen co-op for each.
Much like Dead Space Mobile, Extraction is a game absolutely worth playing. Sadly, also like Dead Space Mobile, Extraction is one of the trickier Dead Space games to experience on modern hardware. At this point, emulation is your best bet unless your PS3 or Wii is still hooked up.
DEAD SPACE 2 – THE PRIME SUBJECT
Dead Space 2 is a rare breed of survival-action. It manages what its predecessor couldn’t by merging modern sensibilities with Resident Evil 4. There’s an argument to be made that Dead Space 2 is more of a sequel to it than Resident Evil 5 in spirit. Isaac can finally speak, the writing is a vast improvement, the controls are at their best, there’s fun new enemies to fight, and even the brand new monsters vs humans multiplayer was great.
Granted, Dead Space 2 sacrifices some of its predecessor’s kenophobic atmosphere in the process. Instead of arriving after an outbreak that’s already taken hold, you witness the necromorph hordes overwhelming a major civilian city. The Sprawl is a megacity orbiting Saturn, built on the remains of its moon Titan. It’s far from the cleanest or happiest city, with plenty of urban decay the further you dig, but it’s like a tooth. You only get to the gnarly stuff after making your way past the glamour.
A MODERN CLASSIC
The new necromorphs you face are variants unleashed due to more material than deep space miners to work with. Infant, child, elderly, and animal necromorphs hound you in new ways due to their unique physiology. Even their textures are disturbingly ‘fresh’, only starting to show decay hours into your journey. The attention to detail is remarkable, with audio logs and environmental storytelling leaning into this Poseidon Adventure twist on the Dead Space formula.
You can see and hear the stories of other would-be survivors struggling to make it alongside you. It might not be traditional horror material, but it’s tangible to an impressively uncomfortable extent. Isaac’s handful of allies and opponents of the human variety add some spice to the plot. Other than an obvious early twist, the story progresses along nicely. Isaac finally has a real arc that’s relatable and endearing.
“ELIJAH, DON’T TURN THIS INTO AN IMPROMPTU REVIEW!”
Right! Uh – the only real downside to Dead Space 2 is how little post-launch support it received by comparison to its contemporaries at EA. A single free multiplayer map pack and one lone story expansion continuing the story of Extraction are all that fans ever saw despite claims of the game being supported as long as players were there for it. And let’s be real – if the worst you can say about a game is that you want more of it, then clearly it’s a great time. It’s a shame the conclusion to the trilogy couldn’t achieve the balance of Dead Space 2, but the midpoint remains a highlight for horror game fans across the world.
And there you have it! All the Dead Space games ranked from worst to best! Let us know which is your favorite in the comments below!