In Dead Space 2, players stepped into Isaac Clarke’s magnetic boots once more for a tension-filled adventure through another Necromorph-filled location in outer space. Offering minor improvements over the original 2008 release, the game nonetheless gave players exactly what they were hoping for: more of the same. That attitude extends to the sequel’s upcoming DLC expansion pack, Dead Space 2: Severed, and in neither case should it be considered a negative.
Part survival horror, part run-and-gun action, the highly polished gameplay in Dead Space 2 remains fresh enough still that innovation isn’t a necessity, though there’s some of that on offer anyway in the sequel’s multiplayer mode. However, Severed is all about adding to the single-player experience, with two new campaign chapters starring Dead Space: Extraction protagonist, Gabe Weller.
The expansion tells a story that runs parallel to Clarke’s own adventures aboard The Sprawl, the Necromorph-infested space station where the bulk of Dead Space 2’s narrative unfolds. Weller and his Extraction pal Lexine Murdoch are now an item, and they’ve carved out a nice little existence for themselves aboard the space station, with Weller filling his days as a security guard for Director Hans Tiedemann. You should be well-acquainted with him after playing through Dead Space 2.
Not that we’ll see any of Weller and Murdoch’s idyllic, Necromorph-free existence. The expansion kicks off with Weller investigating a disturbance in one of the station’s mines, which of course turns out to be those wily Necromorphs. As the situation deteriorates, Weller fights to contain the threat and hopefully ensure Lexine’s safety.
Electronic Arts let us play through a little bit of the first chapter last week during its Spring preview event in New York City. Weller starts off in the mine along with a fanned out squad of fellow security guards. In a matter of minutes, most of the team is dead and Weller is on the run, winding his way through rocky corridors and along suspended catwalks. During one encounter he must hold out against a variety of Necromorphs while a nearby computer works to cycle the locks on his doorway to (temporary) freedom.
Shortly after that, an explosion leaves Weller hanging suspended by one foot in a narrow corridor as Necromorphs rush him, another familiar moment pulled from Dead Space 2. The demo would have ended there with Weller’s escape, but for us it ended a little bit differently, with bloody pieces of the now-former security guard scattered around the corridor.
Based on appearances, it seems that Dead Space 2: Severed is really best viewed as a solo play-focused extension of the January sequel. There’s a danger, as evidenced by the hanging-by-a-foot set piece at the end of the demo, that Visceral Games might be leaning too heavily on recreating familiar elements from the main game. We’ve not been let down by the studio yet however, and even putting that aside… two more chapters in which you are repeatedly ripped apart by Necromorphs is not in any way a bad thing.
The gameplay differences between Dead Space 2 and Severed are largely cosmetic. Since Weller is a station security guard, you’ll notice immediately that his suit is markedly different from Isaac’s own get-up. The helmet is less visor-like and it sports a funky-looking eye piece over Weller’s right eye, like some kind of SpecOps night vision tech. Weller also starts off his adventure with some actual firepower, a Patrol Seeker Rifle and an already-upgraded Pulse Rifle.
Not that the firepower counts for much. Ultimately, Severed is a continuation of Dead Space 2 in every fundamental way. You’re going to spend a lot of time running and/or scrounging for more ammo, and the odds are always going to be stacked against you. The Twitcher enemy returns from the original game, marines-turned-Necromorphs, which move quicker and hit harder than the standard Slasher type.