Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Nostalgia is supposed to be about the things of our early years, but recently I've been feeling nostalgic about games released much more recently than my usual rose-tinted diet of Ultima and Daggerfall. I've only gone and started missing Dead Space like it was a childhood friend.
I'm not a person of particularly sophisticated desires. Sure, I have a bookshelf dedicated to Umberto Eco, more books of medieval history and literature than is strictly necessary, and excruciatingly pretentious cinematic tastes, but strip all of that away and I basically want to play games about people fighting monsters. If they have a back-of-the-box feature called strategic dismemberment, all the better.
Dead Space is a very good game about people fighting monsters. The monsters used to be people, you see, so they have that body horror thing going on and remind me of John Carpenter's The Thing. You're on a spaceship and it's a very good spaceship. Not quite as believable a space place as the Nostromo - what is? - but it's a great setting for steadily increasing tension, shocks and scares. And of course, eventually you're going to feel overpowered and start punching back harder and harder, but that's part of the fun, isn't it?
I think Dead Space 2 might actually be my favourite, but the best Dead Space game would probably contain the best bits from all three. Which is to say, the first two-thirds of Dead Space 1, all the creepy bits and the more varied environments of the second, and the ship graveyard in the third. And then nothing else from the third ever again.