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Silence is golden

Posted January 31, 2011

A few weeks ago I was raving on about finally playing the original Dead Space. I’ve completed it twice since that post and really enjoyed it. Last month I played through Dead Space 2 for review and am now on my second playthrough on the Xbox 360 version.

I loved Dead Space 2, which is why I’m replaying it, but the fact Isaac talks really bothers me. A mute hero has never been a bad thing and usually leaves the player to input their own personality and emotion into a role, which in turn does wonders for their enjoyment and ultimate immersion in the game.

It’s such a strange thing when you think about it because it wasn’t until I was nearing the end of the original Dead Space that I realised Isaac hadn’t uttered a single word. It wasn’t essential for him to say anything and it was his silence that did more for Dead Space than an overly dramatic script could have ever achieved. The feeling was already there and layering over any more theatrics would have killed it.

Dead Space 2 totally screwed around with my opinion. At one point I began to get used to Isaac’s new voice and deal with it but it was the fact I was learning to ‘deal’ with it rather than enjoy it that seemed to be the issue. Why was I putting up with it? To see a game which was doing so much right to watch it do something so catastrophically wrong, was frustrating to say the least.

The question that needs to be addressed would be whether or not Dead Space 2 would work with a muted Isaac. The series has taken a dramatic leap forward into a big budget IP with what I like to call some handy Hollywood development. Take a humble, frightening and interesting story and vamp it up with more violence, gore, swearing and drama than the last. I loved Isaac’s developing relationship with how he deals with the death of his girlfriend but it felt off at points where they were trying to push the next outrageously graphic scene. Not that I don’t like how Visceral pushed the boundaries but Isaac felt a lot less emotional with a voice than he did without one.

There was only one point in the game that I felt it was really appropriate for a voice and that was when Isaac finally comes to terms with his girlfriends death. I don’t know if it was just my girl heart-strings being plucked but Isaac’s admission of “You were my everything” melted away my annoyance of his voice. It was from here on out that I become less and less irritated by his inane chatter. It’s a shame that he didn’t remain silent until that moment as I believe it would have been even more of a powerful one. I might have even shed a tear. Might.

Problem is, now I’m replaying it… I remember how much I hate him talking from the start. It could have been such an amazing build up to that moment and a shame that Visceral missed their chance to insight some really strong emotion into the game.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2011 4:11 pm

    “Isaac felt a lot less emotional with a voice than he did without one.”

    You just hit the bloody nail right on the bloody head right there.

    I also think Isaac is too sane also. Considering what has happened to him, he seems rather level headed and merely confused by his visions as opposed to angry and mental like I would be. Also, I don’t like his “look at me the badass” face when he gets a new suit put on.

    If they did save his speech until that moment with his dead gf (haven’t got there yet but I can’t wait now, hopefully tonight. SEXY TIME) it would have been very powerful, totally agree.

    This is a superb blog!

  2. February 6, 2011 7:08 pm

    I was put off by the fact that he sounds like Stephen Dorff. “Somewhere” Dorff, not “Blade” Dorff. And Nicole sounds like Winona Ryder, of all people.

    The emotional impact of Dead Space 2 felt lessened less by the voice work and more by the quickfire, borderline absurd way in which some of the key scenes were handled. Spoilers ahead, surely! Isaac accepting his guilt over her death suddenly turns her back to normal and what does she do? List off a step in a recovery program. Her betrayal at the end is even worse. “ThankyouIsaactimetodieWHATBLAAAARRGHH”

    More of all that here: http://playthroughline.com/scripts/dead-space-2/

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