Dead Space (2023) is a very faithful remake of the 2008 original, but there are some key differences between both games. Let’s break them down.
In many ways, the Dead Space remake is the same game you remember, it’s mostly just been modernized, given a fresh coat of paint, and updated for current-gen hardware. However, the game is absolutely not a simple HD remaster, instead, Dead Space (2023) is a from-the-ground-up remake of the original game. Although it uses the 2008 title as a template for its story and setting.
Once again, the game charts Isaac Clarke’s journey to repair the Ishimura mining vessel, survive the Necromorph onslaught, find his missing girlfriend and expose a conspiracy. It’s up to one engineer to do all that and the Dead Space remake faithfully recreates the tense survival horror atmosphere of the original. However, it does a few things differently the second time around – of course, spoilers for both games are below.
Dead Space remake changes
Below, we’ll break down all the ways that the Dead Space remake is different from the original:
Isaac has a voice
In the original Dead Space, Isaac Clarke was a silent protagonist, endlessly being ordered around by Hammond and Daniels to “go here, fix that.” His quest to find Nicole, his girlfriend, was a much larger plot device, but Isaac was essentially an avatar of the player in many ways.
In the Dead Space remake, Isaac is fully voice acted and this helps the player feel his pain and share his motivations to not only find Nicole but to get to the bottom of the mystery and prevent the Necromorph threat from spreading. This time, Isaac will argue back and make his feelings known to Hammond and Daniels, but ultimately wants the pair to stop bickering and cares about their safety.
Fans of the series will remember that Isaac was also fully voice-acted in Dead Space 2 and 3, so making this change in the Dead Space remake feels natural and helps Isaac be a more compelling protagonist.
Hammond and Daniels feel like real people
The original Dead Space had distinctly b-movie dialogue which was often at odds with its very serious tone and atmosphere. Hammond was a gruff one-dimensional authoritarian type, while Daniels was a mewling brat, constantly complaining and snapping at her colleagues for no apparent reason.
In the remake, both characters feel much more human. They continue to argue with each other, but their mistrust and tension feel earned and make each character appear more sympathetic. Hammond may be the commander, but he’s just as traumatized as everyone else and is just trying to keep his team alive – even though he questions why Daniels was assigned to their team.
Daniels comes across as a frightened computer technician, worried that she has been sent to such a dangerous location. She also questions if she and Isaac are expendable, and if Hammond has ulterior motives he’s not sharing.
Chen and Johnson
Chen and Johnson are the team’s pilots who arrive at the Ishimura with Hammond, Daniels, and Isaac. Both are promptly killed off before we ever really get a chance to know them, but the remake does differ from the original. In the 2008 version, both Johnson and Chen are essentially silent NPCs who become Necromorph chow within the opening minutes of the game – and both are male soldier types with no personality or storyline.
In the remake, both Chen and Johnson are given a little bit more screen time before their inevitable deaths. Chen is killed in the same way he was in the original, however, this time it’s he who takes center stage during the game’s first scare rather than Johnson. Chen then turns into a Necromorph and continues to stalk Hammond until he’s trapped in an escape pod and blasted out to space.
Johnson, this time a female engineer, is injured in the initial docking procedure and is told by Hammond to wait with the ship while the other four look for survivors. After realizing she isn’t safe, Isaac runs to warn Johnson of the Necromorph threat. Sadly though, he’s too late, as the pilot is ambushed by monsters which cause the ship they arrived on to explode, killing her instantly.
The remaining team members mourn the loss of Chen and Johnson and discuss the pair several times throughout the game’s events. This really helps humanize all of the characters and makes Chen and Johnson feel less like Red Shirts and more like fleshed-out members of Isaac’s crew. Chen’s role in the game’s story also doesn’t end with his death or escape pod trip…
In the original Dead Space, Cross was the girlfriend of Jacob Temple and was murdered offscreen by the game’s villain before her significant other followed suit. However, in the remake, Cross is a much bigger presence. Rather than making her way to an escape pod and fleeing the Isimura, Cross has trapped a colossal Necromorph, the Leviathan, and is preventing it from spreading around the ship.
This also means she’s stuck with it and has accepted her fate, all while making sure other survivors don’t come near. That is until Isaac comes along and helps her dispose of the creature. A grateful Cross then aids Isaac in his quest and also asks him to search for Jacob. Isaac can then complete this task as a side mission, but we won’t spoil the ending or fates of both Jacob and Cross – however, it is significantly different from the original game.
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Necromorphs and combat
EA promised that the Dead Space remake would feature a more detailed dismemberment system, allowing Isaac to systematically dismantle the nasty space zombies in more ways than the original. The devs were true to their word as the Dead Space remake’s combat feels more satisfying, detailed, and gross than the original.
This time, Necromorphs retain more of their human appearance, making them appear much more frightening and like actual undead mutants – rather than templated monsters all sharing the same copy/paste design. This time, Isaac can blast actual flesh off their bones and will need to sever enough of their limbs to fully kill every Necromorph.
Story difficulty settings
The Dead Space remake brings back the Easy, Normal, Hard, and Impossible difficulty settings, the latter being unlocked after beating the game on any other mode. However, the remake also features a Story difficulty that is even easier than Easy.
Story mode is hilariously easy, and chances are you’ll not need to use a single medi-pack throughout your entire run. Isaac also heals, so even if a Necromorph does manage to do some damage to you, you’ll soon just heal moments later.
Guns are overpowered and Necromorphs only take around two hits before they die, regardless if you severed their limbs or not. While it’s nice to include Story mode for those who are just looking for a relaxing experience, it does strip some of the horror away from the game. Therefore, we’d only advise playing this mode if you’re new to survival horror games.
Leviathan’s second boss fight
Fans of the original Dead Space will remember the iconic battle with the Leviathan, only in the remake, there are two battles. Once the beast is blasted out the airlock in the Food Storage Facility, it will attach itself to the communications array, meaning Isaac will need to battle it a second time.
This fight will involve shooting the gargantuan creature with the Ishimura’s cannons until it lets go of the ship’s hull and is sent hurtling into space. It’s a fun change that gets more mileage out of an epic boss monster.
The Ishimura’s design
For the most part, the Ishimura ship is the same as it was in the original Dead Space, although some new content has been added. However, the main difference this time is that the ship’s paths converge in a simpler and more player-friendly way. By using switches and battery packs, you can create shortcuts and new routes to certain locations – and cut off others. It’s reminiscent of the shortcut system used in the Dark Souls games at times.
While most can be played alongside the main story, the Dead Space remake features a selection of side missions that can be completed throughout the game. Some are short and quick to finish, however, others are longer and will take the duration of the game to complete. For example, one side mission involves investigating the origins of the Hunter, or Nicole’s investigation into the Marker.
Another side mission can be used to unlock a hidden ending.
As revealed above, the Dead Space remake has an alternate ending that was not present in the original. If you want the spoilers, you can check out our explainer. To unlock the ending and gather the figurines, you will need to upgrade their security clearance to the max with a custom keycard. You’ll also need to be in New Game Plus for this to work.
This can be unlocked through the side mission that directs Isaac to collect the RIGs and security data of various high-ranking Isimura staff. Once this has been obtained, you can then open the various boxes and lockers that require the highest possible security clearance. Then you’ll need to place them on the shrine in the Captain’s quarters and after you defeat the final boss, a different ending will play out.
Looking for more Dead Space remake content? Check out some of our other guides below:
Dead Space review | Dead Space ending explained | Dead Space everything different in the remake | Dead Space New Game Plus | Dead Space remake voice cast | Will there be a Dead Space 2? | How long is Dead Space? | How to upgrade your RIG in Dead Space | Is Dead Space coming to Xbox Game Pass?