Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few months, you'll know that Dead Space 2 has been released to rave critical reviews. What you might not know, however, is that its iOS tie-in is one of the finest games on the App Store.
Rather than a ratty reimagining of the survival horror concept, Dead Space iOS presents a fully fledged canonical side story that fills in a chunk of the main plot. Playing as a mysterious Unitarian agent codenamed 'Vandal', you'll engage in a few hours of tense exploration, tight combat and objectives that shape the events of Dead Space 2. Savvy players will also be able to register their copy to gain a bonus power node for use in the console versions, further sweetening the deal.
The action is impressively similar to what you'd expect from the series. Stalking through the dank corridors of The Sprawl, you'll assemble a familiar array of weaponry (including the plasma cutter, ripper and viciously effective plasma saw) and use it to devastating effect against hordes of voracious necromorphs. Saving ammo by intelligently severing enemy limbs and taking advantage of telekinesis is the order of the day. As is soiling your underwear.
Invisible virtual thumbsticks provide an intuitive way to control the character and camera, with context-sensitive touch and tilt inputs cropping up from time to time (for example, when sawing the limb off an abhorrent undead monstrosity). Dead Space has always prided itself on being a truly immersive experience, meaning that reloading and triggering RIG effects requires you to jab at the onscreen suit components and ammo counter. Directly interacting with lockers and computers is an especially nifty use of the touchscreen display.
There's no HUD to speak of, which serves to root players firmly in the Sprawl rather than constantly forcing them to suspend disbelief. Unfortunately the bitty control scheme can also become fairly cumbersome and overwhelming in pitched battles, but by and large the interface is more than fit for the task. Considering that the action is able to stand up next to to its console counterparts, Dead Space iOS is an staggering achievement.
Logic dictates that a horror experience simply shouldn't work on an iPhone, but Dead Space 2 surprisingly manages to pull off shock scares and create an tense claustrophobic atmosphere. Stunning graphics are a key part of the effect, exhibiting smooth animations and plenty of ghoulish visual cues. Naturally the terrifying futuristic art design is also spot on.
Whilst the visuals are undoubtedly solid, the 3D audio ultimately steals the show. You'll need to wear headphones for the full effect, but coupled with a darkened room and an open mind, Dead Space is genuinely capable of scaring the living daylights out of you.
Seriously, don't waste Dead Space's potential by playing it on the train. Dim the lights, grab some headphones and get ready for one of the best action/adventure apps you'll play this year.
- Full-blooded Dead Space action
- Excellent visuals and art direction
- Exceptional sound design
- Controls can become unwieldy
- Fear factor is subjective
- Might be too pricey for some
Summary: Dead Space is absolutely astounding. If you own Dead Space 2 or plan to buy into Visceral's latest title, then consider this an essential purchase. If not, go ahead and buy it anyway.
Developer: IronMonkey Studios (in association with Visceral Games)
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
Price: £3.99 - App Store