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App Review: Dead Space HD

If you're looking to a slice of survival horror on the go, but still want incredible graphics, Dead Space HD might just be the game for you...

To most people, gaming on an iPhone or iPad is all about Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and Fruit Ninja, but as developers get more confident they are squeezing more and more out of the hardware Apple makes. Dead Space HD is the latest in a long line of big games that have made their way onto iOS devices, and it certainly is a looker. However, what makes the game different to other big releases is that it was designed alongside its console big brother, and has an exclusive storyline that is not available anywhere else. This development has lead many to ask whether this marks the start of a new kind of opinion towards gaming on the iPhone and iPad

It’s obvious that a great deal of effort has been made to make the game look and feel as similar as possible to Dead Space 2 for the XBox, PS3 and Wii, and the iPad really has been pushed to create some stunning graphics. Long corridors with moody lighting, steam hanging in the air and weapons that glow an eerie blue help add to an atmosphere that really draws you in.

Moody lighting and particle effects help to make the game even more terrifying

The developers have also worked hard to make sure there are plenty of moments which will make you jump, and the tip at the start of the game which suggests you use headphones whilst playing is a fantastic one if you want to immerse yourself in the game. The sound is excellent, with low music setting a tense tone and the screams of monsters disorientating and terrifying you. The quality of sound is extremely high and really helps create a dark and dangerous atmosphere. The fact that you can easily use headphones without needing to sit close to a TV or monitor also means that you get a much more involving experience than on most consoles.

Those jumping moments come pretty regularly as you play, and within a few minutes you’ll be panicking as monsters dart across corridors and your character starts to have visions of blood-splattered walls and bodies in otherwise empty rooms. It’s a little disturbing, but adds a fantastic sense of unease to the whole affair.

The game is pretty gruesome, the effect these scenes have is incredible. You’ll be jumping at every sound.

Controls are tight, and while other great-looking iOS games that use a two-thumb input method have fallen when it comes to controls, Dead Space manages the system well. We found the default sensitivity just right, and had no trouble running and shooting. The over-the-shoulder view makes it easy to line up shots and the only real difficulty came when we tried to reload by pressing a button on the gun – we often found ourselves missing and firing at random.

However, while the controls are great for the most part, the game hits a stumbling block that has nothing to do with the software. We found that while we wanted to carry on playing the game for more than a few minutes, our thumbs were quite painful after a short time. The weight of the iPad compared to a standard game controller is much greater, which puts strain on your hands, and the lack of tactile feedback when you reach the edge of the control circles on-screen means that you often find yourself stretching when running or turning. This may have just been us, but try out some free shooter games first to see if you can handle the iPad comfortably, or invest in a stand that takes the weight out of your hands. It wasn’t a game-ruining problem by any means, and we soon got used to the different techniques, but it’s something to consider before you buy.

Necromorphs are a pretty standard enemy early in the game. They’ll emerge from the floors, walls and ceilings and try their best to eat your face

Fantastic atmosphere, stunning graphics, terrifying sound and a great story and all in an iPad app

Controls are thumb-breaking in some places, needs headphones for the best experience (is this a negative point?)