The original Dead Space is a classic survival-horror experience, thanks to its gratuitous use of guts, gore, and highly disturbing imagery. The 2008 game doesn’t hold back on the punches, and this is all part of the draw for its proponents — the stranger and scarier the visuals, the better. And in the new remake, which will be released on Jan. 27, developer Motive Studio has added some accessibility options that keep the bite of the original game while broadening the appeal.
Dead Space starts off with a content warning: “Dead Space contains graphic violence, including explicit depictions of dismemberment, impalement, blood, gore, vomit, and death. Gameplay and cinematic scenes depict numerous traumatic events and portray harmful behaviors associated with mental health. Topics include self-harm and suicidal ideations, death of colleagues and relatives, claustrophobia, psychosis, visual/auditory delusions, and obsessive behaviours.”
This is, in and of itself, a pretty good content warning! Compare and contrast to The Medium, a 2021 horror game, which opens with a brief trigger warning: “The Medium was designed and developed by a diverse team of various beliefs, political views, and ideologies. It touches upon highly sensitive subjects with the intent of treating them seriously. Despite this, some players may find certain scenes and themes triggering.”
This is well-meaning, but essentially useless — the equivalent of an allergy warning on a food product that says it was prepared by a diverse team of chefs. Cool, I guess. But that doesn’t actually tell me whether the product is safe to consume.
Motive and publisher Electronic Arts go even deeper than that initial, specific warning, with an in-game toggle that shows content warnings before various scenes. In the infamous moment where Isaac hears a dull thud, thud, thud in the distance, you may rightfully assume it’s a nasty beastie, only to approach and find a poor Ishimura employee slamming their face into the window. If you turn on the accessibility toggle, you will see a warning that says, “The upcoming section contains depictions of self-inflicted death.”
Furthermore, a second toggle exists to “hide disturbing scenes.” This will blur out these scenes (although the audio is not affected). It also blacks out Isaac Clarke’s death animations, which can be truly graphic and gruesome. While some fans delight in the horror of seeing Isaac pulled limb from limb or brutally decapitated, others might find that a bit too spicy for their tastes.
Electronic Arts has an external site that catalogs the system and even includes a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of each in-game warning and the content it covers. Some of the warnings are for things as obvious as suicide or amputation, whereas others are for more specific triggers, like medical malpractice or needles.
These options are entirely optional, and it’s possible that most players won’t even look for these toggles — for them, the murder, mayhem, and discomfort are all part of the fun. But Dead Space is a fantastic game absolutely dripping with tension, atmosphere, and mystery apart from the gory aspects. Now, more players will be able to explore the Ishimura and help Isaac escape; I haven’t seen this before in a game of this scope and scale. And that’s great.
How to turn on content warnings in the Dead Space remake
In the pause menu, head to Settings, and then Accessibility. The fourth and fifth options relate to content and warnings. Toggle “Show Content Warning” for the in-game warnings to appear in the top right of your screen, and “Hide Disturbing Scenes” to place a window that hides the game’s most graphic content. Both of these options are disabled by default, and they can be turned on at any point throughout a playthrough.