I personally hold what seems to be an increasingly rare opinion among players of the Dead Space series: that Dead Space 2 is a noticeably worse work of art than the original Dead Space—a lesser work of horror as well as a lesser game in general.
But I must admit that, on first glance, it’s not remotely clear why anyone would hold my opinion. After all, nearly every element that hooked people into Dead Space, nearly every element that I praised in my own article on the game, remains present in the sequel: an engrossing and precisely tuned sound design, a plot that deftly blends sci-fi and body horror, a set of enemies who navigate through ductwork to ensure no space ever feels truly safe, a dismemberment-based fighting system that increases combat complexity while enhancing uncertainty regarding whether any given foe is deceased, a pacing that spaces out spans of tension with spans of relief, a combat system that straddles the line between being restrictive and being empowering, and an eschewing of a traditional HUD in favor of diegetic menus and indicators on and around the player-character’s suit.
Yet, for all that, I would still maintain that there has been a slight slide down the scales of quality from the first game to the second. After some careful consideration, I’ve come to a conclusion as to why this is. Frankly, I don’t think Dead Space 2 has any big, glaring problems that weigh it down. It remains a very solid follow-up to the original, and an entertaining, worthwhile experience. This is not a traditional review of the game, which would surely be much more favorable than what follows.