(Warning: This review contains minor spoilers for those who haven’t played Dead Space 3.)
When it comes to the recently released Awakened DLC for Dead Space 3, one question immediately comes to mind: where was this expansion when the game was initially launched? We’ll address that question shortly, but first, let’s delve into the essence of the DLC.
A Return to Horror
Awakened aims to rectify some of the concerns players had with Dead Space 3. While the main game shifted away from survival horror towards a more action-oriented experience, this DLC brings back the psychological terror that made the series so unique. Additionally, Awakened provides a far superior and satisfying ending compared to the original release, leaving fans wondering why it wasn’t included in the base game.
The Unsettling Journey
The DLC picks up right where the main campaign left off, acting as an epilogue to the events on Tau Volantis. As protagonist Isaac (or Carver in co-op), you find yourself plagued by disturbing visions, hinting at a dark presence. Throughout three gripping chapters, you confront a cult of Unitologists who revel in self-mutilation, all while being pursued by an unkillable apparition. Your objective is simple: escape with your life intact.
A Familiar Formula
Like its predecessor, Awakened follows the Dead Space tradition of completing smaller objectives to ultimately achieve a larger goal. The game starts off slowly, echoing the deliberate pacing that fans have come to expect. However, the pacing improves significantly as the story progresses into the second chapter.
The Impactful Ending
While playing as Isaac, your journey and the resulting conclusion become crucial not only to the characters but also to the future of the franchise. The original game’s ending was lackluster, with loose ends and a lack of resolution. Awakened, on the other hand, not only delivers a potentially jaw-dropping moment but also offers a glimpse into the direction of Dead Space 4, assuming it will be developed. This raises the question once again: why wasn’t this exceptional ending part of the main game?
Enhanced Horror Experience
Awakened reinstates the focus on horror, providing players with genuinely creepy and memorable moments. The constant blurring of reality and illusion keeps players on edge. While you still possess the ability to obliterate any threat that comes your way, the presentation ensures that you remain on your toes throughout the DLC.
Solo vs. Co-op
Unlike the main game, which thrived in co-op play, Awakened is best experienced alone, at least for the initial playthrough. The solo portion of the DLC immerses players in the story, while the co-op offers a distinct and enjoyable experience. Playing it both ways enhances the overall value of the DLC and showcases the different gameplay elements available.
A Missed Opportunity
Returning to the question of why Awakened was not initially included in the base game, the answer likely lies in the $10 price tag. While it may have been a business decision, it feels slightly disappointing to withhold such a vital part of the game and charge players extra for it. Nonetheless, for Dead Space 3 owners, this DLC is undeniably a must-buy.
Awakened is an essential addition for fans of Dead Space 3, especially for those who found the main game lacking. It delivers the ending that the original release should have had and restores the fear-based gameplay that was sorely missing. Though the DLC inadvertently sheds light on the flaws of the vanilla campaign, particularly in solo play, it doesn’t overshadow the enjoyment of the co-op experience. Despite its price, Awakened is a must-play for anyone invested in the Dead Space story.
This review was based on gameplay using an Xbox 360, with a code provided by Electronic Arts.
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