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Descent Horizon: How Dead Space 3 is touching down planetside

GM travels to Visceral Games to see the latest build

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We've seen things in Dead Space 3 that you wouldn't believe. We've seen a head with spidery legs crawl onto a dead body and bring it to life, turning it into a shambling zombie capable of firing the machinegun still gripped by the corpse's cold, stiff fingers.


More Dead Space 3: Dead Space 3 release date | Dead Space 3 trailer | Dead Space 3 screenshots

We've seen armies of reedy mummified midgets shriek and launch themselves at Isaac without hesitation or consideration for their own welfare, only to be swatted into a giant out-of-control drill and mashed to pulp. And we've seen Isaac lanced by the tongue of a gargantuan snow crab and pulled into a scissoring maw so forcefully it broke our star in clean half backwards on his way into the crustacean's belly.

It's enough to make most people blow chunks but we're built of sterner stuff, because when it comes to the world of Dead Space we'd feel short-changed if we weren't subjected to gruesome sights like the above. Even so, we've seen other things in Dead Space 3 that do have us terrified. Physically quivering with fear, even.

Things such as human-on-human combat. Cover systems. Crouching. Military weapons. QTEs. Even... (are you sitting down..?) co-op. In fact, when we visited Visceral Games' studio and watched executive producer Steve Papoutsis' reveal presentation, the word 'horror' wasn't uttered once. Dead Space 3's genre was instead classified purely as 'action'.

Speaking as horror fans, this was like being locked up in a butcher's shop with Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Pinhead, Leatherface, and Jason all at once - while blindfolded. We wanted scares, just not like this.

Isaac's New Town
Our third journey into the unknown with Isaac begins in the most hectic of fashions: a (space)ship wreck. Our half-dead hero jerks awake while hanging upside down in a decimated pod. His beard and hair are caked with ice, and once he's untangled himself from snaking cables and metal brackets we see the rest of him isn't so great either. The right arm of his suit is shredded, for instance, revealing mangled flesh beneath.

As Isaac stumbles out of the escape vehicle and into the open we try to soak up the surroundings. But we can't. Beyond the flaming warped metal plates that are half-submerged in snowdrifts it's tough to make out anything. The blizzard we're in is what you'd call a whiteout.


This is Tau Volantis: an ice planet destined to be Isaac's home for some (but not all - Visceral are very specific on that point) of Dead Space 3's running time. Here we're stepping out onto its tundra for the first time. It's the start of chapter two, and Isaac has crashed onto the planet, separated from an EarthGov group he was rubbing shoulders with in the months after Dead Space 2's events.

Isaac isn't alone. One short trudge up a snowdune later and a humanoid necromorph attacks. It's a standard slasher type with the remnants of a grubby fur-lined jacket still wrapped around its frame, and Visceral's man with the pad quickly severs its limbs to put it down.

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