Tears fill the ducts of my eyes when I just think about Visceral Games closing their doors. A studio that did the most remarkable work in the survival horror genre, but got forced on to projects outside of their realm that ultimately got shut down. If you have a slight love for the survival horror genre then it’s very likely you would have given Dead Space a go in the last generation. It was a fantastic series, only let down by the third game in the series that did not sit well with critics and ultimately led to the demise of the franchise – thanks to the publisher pushing for more money from consumers. Dead Space 3 was not the game the team wanted to make. So what would have happened if the series continued? What would Dead Space 4 have been?
Former Creative Director Ben Wanat, now Creative Director at Crystal Dynamics, sat down with Eurogamer to give us all some insight.
At the end of Dead Space 3, humanity was facing a hopeless future, and that is where Dead Space 4 ties into it.
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.
Dead Space 3 did provide a hint at where the series was going, even if it wasn’t all their own doing.
We would have finessed a lot of existing mechanics. The flotilla section in Dead Space 3 hinted at what non-linear gameplay could be, and I would have loved to go a lot deeper into that.
As we see now with games, like Rise of the Tomb Raider, the game would have been linear with pockets of open-world bits.
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 to get your ship Shock-capable. You’d start to form a picture of what happened in that region while fighting through scores of Necromorphs from ship to ship. And you’d learn a new, critical bit of plot info along with the means to Shock to a couple of nearby sectors.
“The ships you would visit are where the game would get really diverse. The Ishimura had some inkling of that diversity with the variously themed decks. But imagine an entire roster of ship types, each with unique purposes, floor plans, and gameplay. Our original prototypes for the Dead Space 3 flotilla had some pretty wild setups that I wish we had been able to use
A big problem in Dead Space 3 is that it wasn’t as much about horror, as it was in the first two games. He admits that, and tells us where they were looking at next.
The problem with all of the ground-based enemies was that they couldn’t follow you through zero-g and that made them much less threatening. But make 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? Then I think you’d have yourself a good old time.
The story was left wide open, so what did they have in mind?
With the apocalypse, there was the opportunity for a clean break. It wouldn’t be necessary for the story going forward to include any of them.
Further to that, he says that he imagined Ellie Langford as the protagonist of Dead Space 4. The full interview with much more information on the workings of Dead Space 3, from the weapon attachments to EA’s sales expectations, can be found here.