For the last few days I decided to play some of my less loved games before I left my Xbox to sit collecting dust for three months. And after writing a few articles about Dead Space 3, it’s two prequels came instantly to mind. Well almost instantly. I tried Top Spin 4 (a tennis game) first but after failing miserably to hit a ball in one highlighted segment, I gave up and played Dead Space 2 instead.
Now me and Dead Space have a very complicated relationship. When I first got the survival horror game, I was a young teenager. My Xbox skills weren’t as good or refined as they are now. As a result, the combination of my age and less impressive hand-eye coordination meant my first playthrough wasn’t perfect. I was jumpy, I’d shoot everything and end up turning off my Xbox after half an hour. Even at my most determined to play, Dead Space had new ways of unsettling me.
If you haven’t played the first game, I’ll briefly sum up one example of how cruel Dead Space can be. Throughout the story, there are occasions where you will come up against an unstoppable Necromorph. This beast has been created to withstand pretty much everything you can throw at it. Shooting it’s limbs off will slow it down (normally that kills the Necromorph) sure, but it can regenerate them. It was fast, strong and pretty much unkillable. Usually I’d waste all my ammo on the *curseword* only to see it still chasing me. And as my character doesn’t have the same ability to not die, it would frequently kill me. Sometimes I’d be doing really well…then I’d lose my nerve and run around in circles, crying. Yeah, it was pretty intense.
Despite my inability to keep mentally strong, I still managed to get quite far before I got distracted by happier games. I was only a few chapters off completion when I finally stopped playing. I can’t quite recall at what point made me give up. Whether I just got bored or the memory was so traumatic I have subconsciously forced it to the far recesses of my mind, who knows? Essentially, I forgot about Dead Space for a while.
But like a protagonist in an action series, I eventually came back for more. I had more gaming experience. I was prepared, both mentally and physically, to return. I had my battle scars and I was ready to finish what I started….or something like that.
And in a few weeks, I completed it. Obviously I didn’t play it every night (that’s too much to deal with) but I played with confidence, pin point accuracy and at no point did I have a nervous breakdown. I was calm, collected and truimphant. Huzzah!
Then Dead Space 2 arrived. I was apprehensive. Would it be worse than it’s predecessor? Could I keep my new found strength?
Well as it happens, the sequel wasn’t too bad. It was more focussed on action and there was people to talk to. Your guy spoke too. And the chapters were pretty short. In a few hours I’d managed to blitz through to chapter 7 before I got stuck. And this time I was stuck not because of fear, but because I ran out of ammo and couldn’t be bothered with the mission I was on.
But now I’m back. Again.
And boy, I’m struggling. Not in-game. My character is perfectly fine. Somebody jumps out at him, he casually moves back, aims and kills. He deals with Necromorphs like it was the easiest thing in the world. He could be a perfect action hero…if it wasn’t for the fact he frequently hallucinates and is on the verge of having a mental episode.
I, on the other hand, am not so calm and composed. Every time, and I mean every single time, a Necromorph pops out of an air vent or a door or wherever they chill out in their free time, I’ll be practically wetting myself. I could be staring straight right at the spot, aware of the music, aware of the fact something is going to attack and yet it’ll still get me. While my hands continue to expertly lead my dude to safety, the rest of me is fast becoming a nervous wreck. I’ll be sweating, breathing irregularly. It isn’t a pretty sight.
The most annoying thing, though, is the fact I’m not usually like this. I don’t know why the game is having this effect on me. Dead Space 2 isn’t that frightening. And I’ve already played this section! It’s nothing new but I’ll be cursing like a teenager in a horror film. Speaking of which, horror films don’t usually scare me (Suspense + plot > nudity + gore). Yet I’ll see this weird baby start screeching at me and while Isaac Clarke is trying to kill him and all his little pals, I’m all over the place in my bedroom.
It’s embarrassing. I like to think of myself as a rock, somebody who could face such a scenario in real life and do my best to survive. I’m not saying I’d be the hero or I’d kill every bad thing in sight, but I’d least be good enough to cope with the danger. But considering how I’m regressing from somebody who dealt with everything confidently to somebody who cringes at the mental image of a person pushing a needle into their nail, this dream is starting to fade. At this rate, I’ll end up sobbing to myself in the foetal position if such a situation ever occurred.
I still plan to play tonight though. Got nothing better to do after all.
Wish me luck…