Are videogame spin-off books any good?

PSM3 soaks up 200 pages of Dead Space: Martyr, a new breed of survival horror, in order to find out...

"He felt bereft. And very lonely. He went to the observation porthole, slipping on the carcass on the floor on the way. Somebody should move that, he thought."

On this evidence, it seems Dead Space: Martyr - the official spin-off book of dark PS3 horror shooter Dead Space 2 - is unlikely to win the Man Booker prize this year, but is videogame fiction *really* so bad? PSM3 tackles 200 pages(ish)
of Dead Space: Martyr, to uncover a new breed of survival horror.

Hundreds of years before anything interesting happened in the Dead Space universe, this did

Title: Dead Space: Martyr

Author: B.K. Evenson

Publisher: Titan Books, £8

Michael Altman is Jesus. Sort of. He's regarded as a Messianic figure in the Dead Space fiction; the titular martyr whose death galvanised a religion that would come to be known as Unitology, the freaky-deaky cult you've been murdering brutally in both games. In fact, Altman's a name you'll recognise if you collected all those data logs. Unitologists never shut up about him. He's the 24th century's Justin Bieber.

Martyr is set on Earth, hundreds of years prior to the events on the Ishimura, and chronicles Altman's unwitting ascent from geophysicist to demigod. It's an origins story, in which Altman, for no reason, decides to investigate strange readings from the bottom of a crater. An insatiable drive to 'just sort of wanting to know what's going on' sees Altman uncover a sprawling conspiracy, place himself in near constant peril and eventually blow up the bad guy's base.

Necromorph on the beach

His girlfriend's an anthropologist, handily enough, which warrants a side plot involving a tribal village discovering a Necromorph flapping about on the beach. There's a lovely paragraph about inflating grey skin sacs, before they all chuck sticks at it.

This leads, in turn to an incredibly trite 'honey I'm home' chapter, in which Altman and his anthropologist girlfriend realise that their two seemingly unrelated experiences might be somehow be, in fact, very closely related after all.

Martyr adds a great deal to the Dead Space canon, which makes it of some worth to anybody looking for something more from the games beyond stomping aliens until their limbs explode. Steve Hogarty

So, are books the new games?
Well, there's a nice bit with some inflating grey sacs, but Martyr includes an instance of the word 'holoscreen' so sickening we had to lie down. Our investigation will have to go deeper...

For more 'page turning' videogame spin-off novels, including God of War, Homefront and Assassin's Creed, check out the revelatory six-page 'PSM3 Book Club' feature in the latest issue of PSM3, on sale now in all good UK newsagents.

iPad/tablet owners from anywhere in the world can buy the digital edition of PSM3 by clicking here