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Today I Played: Dead Space 3

Chris Plante co-founded Polygon in 2012 and is now editor-in-chief. He co-hosts The Besties, is a board member of the Frida Cinema, and created NYU’s first games journalism course.

The Dead Space series' evolution from niche horror game to mainstream action adventure speaks to the state of its publisher, Electronic Arts. When the original Dead Space was released, EA was trumpeting an ambitious, pro-creative slate of games, including Mirror's Edge. In need of new properties, they afforded developers considerable freedom.

EA's had a rough go over the following years, shuttering a number of studios, nurturing a more austere slate of games. Mirror's Edge never got a sequel. The Dead Space franchise gradually exchanged its slow, quiet horror for loud guns and explosive set pieces.

Coming into this game, the franchises' trajectory seemed, to an outsider, shrewdly calculated. You can imagine a board room in which an executive says, "Gamers like co-op and train sequences and epic boss battles, so let's do more of that."

After playing Dead Space 3, I wonder if maybe I've read the series all wrong. That this was the natural path for the story. It's the Star Wars model (or the Campbell model) of sci-fi, in which the know-nothing hero becomes a destroyer of superhumans.

It's tempting to build narratives around video games and faceless companies. But the more I play Dead Space 3, the more I realize the most important narrative is the one inside the game.

Just something to think about before you listen to Russ Frushtick scream like a girl in this very special co-operative Today I Played.

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