Review: Dead Space 3 Awakened
Dead Space 3: Awakened is an enigma; its contents converse to what people view the series’ direction as of late. While Dead Space 3 is a fine game that misses the mark of its better predecessor, Dead Space 2, Dead Space 3: Awakened contains numerous elements that puts it above the entirety of its counterpart. Re-introducing dementia into gameplay and the story brings the series back to, what I feel, is a perfect compliment to the wave of action influence that has been seeping into this series. It’s a shame that EA waited until the Awakened to make Dead Space 3 scary. At least this DLC proves that they have a good grasp on how to do so.
Awakened picks up right after the end of the Dead Space 3 campaign. Isaac and John awake in a cave questioning how they both survived the destruction of an entire planet. I did too, but the dialogue thankfully shows that they’re both as bewildered as I was at this notion. Soon Isaac and John find that they’re not the only survivors of the Necromorph Moon incident. Unitologists left behind on Tau Volantis have split into two factions, the new one being fueled by their delusions and led by a new prophet, The Voice. I won’t go into the story too much, but know that it sets up a whole lot for Dead Space 4.
Dementia, my favorite part of Dead Space 2 due to my love for that type of psychological horror, permeates the entirety of this content. It’s not long into the DLC when players will begin to see the products of this returning horror element. Hallucinations occur frequently and will differ between Isaac and John, something I absolutely love for co-op play—there was not enough of this in the main game. As Isaac and John struggle to accomplish their mission while suffering their own delusions, the remaining Unitologists survivors leave their mark on the environment in the form of overheard chanting, scary messages on the walls, ritual suicides, and effigies made from mangled corpses. This leads to Awakened‘s human enemies being perfectly suited for a survival horror game: they don’t have guns and they’re so psychotic that they’re pretty scary. Awakened drops the needless gun fights from the main game.
Awakened is significantly more frightening than its counterpart. I found myself expecting jump scares via hallucinations, but they were done in exciting ways that could not be found in Dead Space 3, even 2 to some extent. After a barrage of monsters big and small, Dead Space 3 needed something to stay fresh, Awakened seems aware of that. The inclusion of psychotic Unitologists and their new leader, The Voice, provided some unsettling set pieces and events within this content.
As with the main game, I found myself preferring co-op over singeplayer. Awakened puts a heavier emphasis on Isaac and John’s relationship, as they argue, strategize, and discuss their feelings. There’s even a few buddy-buddy moments that lightened the mood once or twice. It’s fun dynamic especially when dementia hits. Playing with a friend showcases unique hallucinations for the two characters, something the main game needed a lot more of. This makes co-op a highly entertaining and worth at least one replay, to see both perspectives. My co-op partner and I would constantly question if we were seeing the same things on screen at the same time, or if our character’s hallucinations were different.
Dead Space 3: Awakened is a bit on the short side, but it provided a lot of entertainment. I’m a big proponent of psychological horror, and Awakened did a pretty good job of reintroducing that element. In many ways, I enjoyed it more than the main game. While I’d say it’s a step in the right direction for the series, I can’t entirely be sure that Dead Space 4 will continue along this path. With such an epic ending that sets up a sequel, it’s difficult to imagine the next game sticking to a slow and scary pace. Maybe they’ll surprise me; I prefer to stay optimistic. I’m just hungry for more Dead Space) as long as it’s more like Awakened).