Dead Space: Extraction – Extract This!

Dead Space: Extraction is a rail shooter made by Visceral Games. It was released for the Wii, and Playstation 3 a few years ago. Since I don’t own any of these consoles I decided to play it on the PS3 emulator RPCS3 using a PS4 controller plugged into the computer. I had no issues at all, I didn’t even have to configure anything. It worked flawlessly right out of the box with the right buttons being presented on the screen for the tutorial stuff. The performance was also great with no visual glitches. So, while the gameplay isn’t much more than pointing, and pressing buttons to shoot aliens with the occasional reloading action, I got to say I had a grand time the few hours this game lasted.

One of the main reasons for that is the story and setting. I’m a huge fan of Dead Space, having played the games (long ago now, though), and read the lore – thus getting anything new that expands the setting is bliss. Now, if the story or the gameplay was terrible, I would naturally mark the game down for that since I’m not a blind-consuming fanboy, but both of these things are rather good actually. Extraction is a prequel set just a few moments before the main game Dead Space. You get to experience the initial outbreak on Aegis VII that will eventually lead to the total annihilation of Ishumra’s crew. This story is told through the eyes of several characters which you all get to play – some fearing better than others, and it’s all very interesting and well-told. It starts with the extraction of a newly discovered monolith marker on Aegis VII, and soon thereafter all hell breaks loose because the marker has the effect of corrupting the minds of nearby humans – transforming them into crazed suicidal killers. If that wasn’t enough, an alien necro-virus spreads among its dead victims and morph them into disgusting body-horror -esque biological killing machines.

Make us whole!

All extremely pleasant, but for everyone that knows anything about Dead Space this is pretty standard stuff. What makes this game unique, though – as mentioned, is the prequel status. Witnessing the initial outbreak happen is highly entertaining, and sure, one could wish it was an actual first-person shooter, or maybe something in a similar style to the original games, but it’s very immersive regardless. While characters switch during the campaign, some remain throughout the story, and they will stick together during the adventure. You will play the majority of the game as Nathan McNeill, a no-nonsense colony cop. The other two main characters that will stick with you are; Gabe Weller (officer of Ishimura), and Lexine Weller (who I think is a real cutie). They all feel like genuine people, with real concerns and a will to survive, and that goes for the secondary cast of the story too. You even get to meet a few legendary characters from the franchise in the flesh too. A big moment was meeting Nicole Brennan, Isaac Clarke’s (main guy of Dead Space) girlfriend, and hearing her talk outside the video logs was a nice experience.

Lexine being cute

Another major cool aspect of the game and I’m trying to spoil as little as possible here – is that you get to see a lot of areas from the original Dead Space, but just moments before you go through those areas with Isaac. Ever wonder why that corridor next to medical was barricaded? Well, now you get to know why. I’m not sure how it all holds up lore-wise, but man, during the game it felt cool. Oh, I know that placeOH, that is how they did that! – and so on. Overall, the story is well-written, and the dialogue is snappy. There is never any downtime for meandering, it’s all very plot relative and the steady pace pushes the exciting story along. You even get to know the characters a bit, even if they might be a bit one-note, but what can you expect in a mad dash for survival? The characters don’t get any downtime either matter of fact, except for one point in the story, but then again not everyone took part in that “rest”. So, how about the gameplay?

Since this is a rail shooter you got no control over the motions, except for the reticle on the screen. The movement is viewed from a first-person view, and I found it in general pretty immersive, however, I recommend tuning down the headbobbing in options. It made me feel a bit dizzy in the beginning until I changed the setting. The main objective is to shoot stuff, but you also get a kinetic tool that lets you grab boxes (for opening/throwing), ammunition, new weapons, and text/audio logs. You got to be quick, though, since every scene only lasts for a few seconds, which forces you to play the game with at least some focus – especially if you want to snag all those lore notes. The shooting felt good and worked to Dead Space’s strength – aka limb cutting. Just like the original game cutting off the limbs are the way to go, and I highly recommend going for legs, since that will slow down most of the creatures coming for you. And not to forget, you get a stasis module too, which is used to slow down the monsters – works wonder on fast ones! This tool will also be used in puzzles, and talking about puzzles. There is some hacking to be done as well. In this mini-game you have to guide an electric spark to the right place through circuits, avoiding hazards on the way. It’s not very hard, but what makes this mini-game a challenge at times is that you will have to do it while killing approaching aliens. It makes for some sweaty moments during the campaign. There is also an active reload mechanic, timing it right gets you a few precious extra seconds, but if you miss – prepare to eat some damage!

If this was real life my pants would be filled to the brim

Extraction is as expected a linear experience, however at certain parts of the game you get to choose a path. It doesn’t happen very often, but it is there for some light repeatability. There are also some secrets to be found outside the usual eye scan of the environments for goodies. Sometimes the game pauses and lets you pan around, and if you are fast enough, you might find a door lock to blast open, which lets you into a room with a lot of loot and weapons. But, as with the rest of the game, you got to pay attention and act fast – there are no retries on this ride. The gameplay might not sound like much, but if you lower your expectations to match the genre, it’s a hell of a good time!

Necromorph or large chicken?

The visuals and sound are good, but considering it’s originally a Wii game, the textures can look a bit muddy. I didn’t mind, though, I found the game to look good, and match the setting from the other titles in the franchise. The lighting, and atmosphere felt top-notch, and that is what is important in a horror-themed game. Animations were also surprisingly good, especially the facial ones – there are a lot of expressions conveyed here. It adds to the immersion of the setting since this contributes to the believability, which remained fairly high throughout the experience. The voice acting is superb for all parts, but once again Lexine stands out. She looks cute and has a very charming English dialect on top of that. All the other sounds are there from Dead Space, so just going by the soundscape the atmosphere holds up phenomenally well.

Do I recommend Dead Space: Extraction? Of course, but it comes with one reminder – this is not a game with exceptional gameplay, so if you expect it to be worth it for that reason alone, I think it might be a dud. However, if you’re like me and adore the Dead Space setting, you can’t go wrong here. I found the setting immersive, even if I was not exactly in control of the adventure. It played out more like an interactive movie of some sort, and a really good one to boot! Everything needed to play this emulated can be found on Vimm’s Lair. Extraction does not exist as a stand-alone game for the PS3, it came bundled with Dead Space 2: Limited Edition. So, if you decide to give it a go make sure to get the correct version.

Thanks for reading.

/Thomas


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