‘Dead Space 3: Awakened’ Review: Is It Real Or Is It Marker-ex?

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Written by Brittany Vincent, @MolotovCupcake

In many ways, Dead Space 3 was inferior to its predecessors, but it still valiantly forged ahead as one of what will ultimately be the year’s best third-person action games. While it eschewed classic survival horror convention for in-your-face (albeit usually generic) action, it did have its moments, namely, any time Isaac Clarke or his partner suffered from hallucinatory visions. Dead Space 3: Awakened is the first round of DLC released to further expand upon the schizophrenic shooter, and while it’s short on content, it packs an interesting wallop as an additional epilogue and surrogate survival horror section. And if you’re anything like me, that’s a good thing.

Awakened is set immediately following the events of Dead Space 3, so for those who haven’t completed the campaign, it won’t make much sense to tackle this adventure. It’s also tough to delve into without divulging at least some of the secrets that eventually unfold throughout the course of the game, but in a nutshell, Isaac (and his good buddy Carver — wait, at least we think they’re buddies now) are getting the heck off of Tau Volantis. I won’t divulge why, so for the sake of keeping things under wraps: Awakened revolves around those wacky Unitologists and their bizarre pet who wants you dead, and that abomination usually accomplishes this by way of beheading our favorite Clarke. And while it looks spectacular and all, it’s not especially endearing when you find yourself having to restart at checkpoint after checkpoint. But wait until you see that thing in action. It’s a beautiful thing, really.

Isaac once again assumes his role as intergalactic errand boy, all the while dodging the Unitologists’ mobile guillotine for the spread of Awakened, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more violent space miner. For a while, he’s up to his old tricks. Stomp a Necromorph here. Stasis one there. Kid stuff. But as you head into the second chapter after sifting through all the normal “get me gas” and “take this item there” hullaballoo, something refreshing happens: the horror comes back. For a few shining moments, namely nearing the end of the DLC, we see the true potential of what Dead Space 3 could have been in the first place. And, like we mentioned before in that review, the expansion does such a wonderful job of keeping the tension up that like the original campaign, it’s best enjoyed alone.

Most of the tension is culled from the fact that the DLC is peppered with multiple “is it real” moments by way of chilling illusions and some of the best trolling we’ve ever seen by way of video games. Sometimes, you genuinely can’t predict what you’re going to see next. And that’s Dead Space getting back to its roots. It’s stripping itself of what made it stray from the excellent path it was on, and for that reason the three or four hours you’ll spend escaping Tau Volantis is made all the more special.

The Final Word: An explosive finale that begs questions about the inevitable Dead Space 4 and a massive chunk of story that feels as though it was excised from the campaign and sold separately for a $10 admission fee, Dead Space 3: Awakened is an excellent add-on for fans hungry for more. It’s a spellbinding yet annotated tale of Isaac, the Marker, and the horrifying effects it taints all it comes into contact with. It’s pricey for what it is, but for a real ending that delivers what we asked for in the first place, it’s worth the admission price.

This review is based on a digital copy of the Xbox 360 version of Dead Space 3: Awakened, which was provided by the publisher.

  • Daddy-the-Baddy

    Haven’t gotten this yet been too busy with god of war cant wait to play though!!

  • ThunderDragoon

    DLC is the worst thing to happen to gaming. They make you pay more for a game that already cost $60 in the first place if you want to experience the full story. It’s bullshit. Money-grabbing bastards.

    • Adam Dodd

      @ThunderDragoon Oh man, I hate disagreeing with you because we’re soul mates and everything, but I could not disagree more. For starters, DLC is optional, so they don’t make us do anything. ‘Awakened’ is entirely optional, and if you don’t plan on getting it, DS3 already has more content than the previous two games.

      DLC gives us a way to keep playing the games we love, and many games that use DLC in really neat ways. For example, Resident Evil 5 had Lost in Nightmares, which paid homage to early games in the series; Borderlands had Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, which injected the game with awesome Halloween flavor; Infamous had Festival of Blood, which to me is still one of the best horror DLC out there, etc.

      Then there are games like Mass Effect 3 and Burnout Paradise, both of which offered free DLC 1-2 years after their release. Even Halo 3 made (most of) its map packs free a few months after their release.

      Making games is crazy expensive, and the next-gen games are going to cost even more to develop. DLC gives game companies a way to make more money so they can continue making games we love to play. So in my opinion, DLC is one of the best things to happen to gaming.

      • ThunderDragoon

        “For starters, DLC is optional, so they don’t make us do anything.”

        That’s why I made sure and said “… if you want to experience the full story.” DLC that adds other stuff you mentioned, I don’t have a problem with. The DLC that I have a problem with is the kind that adds onto the story or the ending. Essentially, they make people (“people” in this sense being the ones who bought and loved the game) pay more for what should’ve been there in the first place. That’s the DLC I’m talking about.

  • Dr.murder

    Didn’t know I got cheated out of the ending. EA is officially off my list and will stay that way. Game wasn’t even scary.

  • Meshugganaut

    I was let down by ‘Dead Space 3′. It had zero horror atmosphere that 1&2 delivered superbly. It’s a good game, but as an action shooter and nothing more. ‘Awakened’ was fuckin’ awesome, and it was exactly what was missing from the actual game itself. It’s way too short for the price it cost, but just to experience the classic Dead Space atmosphere… it’s worth it. I just hope the next installment *if there is one* will return to what it does best, and that it terrify. If it continues with the action, then I am done with it, just like ‘Resident Evil’.