Before the release of Dead Space Remake, we had the opportunity to speak with two figures behind this new version. Genesis of the project, differences with the original, we give you some behind the scenes.
Dead Space Remake will be available this Friday, January 27, 2023 on PS5, Xbox Series and pc. One of the big releases of the month – with Forspoken – for which we had the opportunity to know a little more just a few days before the return of this now classic survival-horror.
We indeed had the right to a one-on-one with two major figures behind the game: Joel MacMillandirector of production, and actor Gunner Wrightvoice actor for hero Isaac Clarke in Dead Space 2, Dead Space 3. Here’s our full interview with them.
The genesis of Dead Space Remake
Before getting to the heart of the matter of Dead Space Remake, we wanted to take the temperature a few days before launch, find out what the state of mind of the two men was and find out the genesis of the project. And if we could have a little doubt, this revisit will see the light of day in part thanks to… Capcom!
DashFUN : How did you feel revisiting a survival horror classic like Dead Space?
Joel MacMillan : For my part, I would say that we were honored. All members of the development team were huge fans of the original, so we felt very lucky to be able to take this unique opportunity to take care of this remake. We all love narrative games and to tackle one of the most beloved horror franchises and bring it to our time was a fantastic opportunity. We were all happy to embark on this adventure.
Gunner Wright : I owed that to Joel. And the fact that in many ways I never left the role of Isaac. I can’t tell you how many new people have discovered the game and how many fans have come to me over the years. On my website, I was asked “Can I send you my copy of Dead Space 2 or Dead Space 3 – or miniatures – for you to sign?” not to mention the other attentions I received. So as soon as I was called to let me know that they were going to revisit Dead Space, I couldn’t wait.
DashFUN : After so many years away from the franchise, how do you feel about this return?
Gunner Wright : I haven’t had a chance to play the game but seeing some of the interviews, artwork and bits of the final version, all I can tell you is that I haven’t seen anything like it before, so detailed. The realistic rendering of the suit, for example, the Plasma Cutter. All of this just made me want to shoot (editor’s note : them capture performance sessions), no questions asked, because it looks so good.
DashFUN : Was Dead Space Remake born due to the success of the Resident Evil 2 remake?
Joel MacMillan : I would say that this project was born from a real desire of the team. As I stated, all of the members are big fans of the franchise. We had the opportunity to present the idea of a remake to EA, and we were lucky that they accepted. They felt it was a good opportunity in part because of the success of the Resident Evil 2 remake, and the place horror has in pop culture which is a much more accepted genre than it used to be. over the past ten years. Horror has really found its audience whether in terms of games, content on streaming services and movies. It is a genre that is very established in our popular culture. And it’s not something that was forced on the team by EA, it just happened. We all wanted to do it, we were able to submit the idea and we were lucky enough to be able to do it.
The evolution of Isaac Clarke
While Dead Space Remake will be an impressive graphical overhaul, it will also be an opportunity to improve a large number of points compared to the original. Exploration will be smoother and the main character of the game will have more consistency with the addition of a voice, and also express their psychic as well as physical state via the ALIVE system
DashFUN : Isaac can now speak and express his state thanks to a new system. What were your intentions with regard to this novelty? ?
Joel MacMillan : It’s a good question. We wanted to accomplish different things by giving Isaac a voice. In the original, he didn’t respond verbally to NPCs at all, and that created dissonance and disconnect. It looked like he was ignorant, why wasn’t he answering? We wanted to remedy this problem, but also give more autonomy to this version of Isaac. In the first game, the NPCs told him what to do and Isaac complied. He was a clerk. We wanted Isaac to take the reins a bit more and be more active than passive. So to give him that autonomy and really harness his engineering expertise, we needed to bring that voice to Isaac, and Gunner did a great job of that. And that makes sense because over the course of the franchise, I feel like Gunner has become the embodiment of Isaac.
Internally, we referred to Gunner and Isaac as one and the same. We referred to the character as Gunner Clark because he fit the role so well. So when we decided to voice Isaac for our game, Gunner was a no-brainer. Can we bring Gunner back? Is it possible ? Is he available ? Does he want to do it? Luckily for us, it was. But I don’t want to speak for him.
Gunner Wright : No, in all seriousness, it was such an honor. And to be honest because I haven’t had time to tell you Joel, but what you’ve done in terms of technology, story and rendering, it’s hauntingly beautiful. I think that’s the best way to explain it.
Joel MacMillan : Thanks to you. Bewitching is the right term because it can apply to the whole game. It’s a very bewitching game.
DashFUN : What’s the difference with having a face now? Did you do performance capture for Dead Space Remake?
Gunner Wright : Excellent question. For this game, I did performance capture and Motive Studios / EA brought in an amazing team dedicated to motion capture as well as stuntmen. I did a lot on Dead Space 2 and 3 but considering the budget, time and technicalities, they brought in an amazing team that I wouldn’t call second team but did a phenomenal job.
Joel MacMillan : It was disturbing to see the opening sequence of the game. In the original, there was this old version of Isaac Clark. Now that we’ve captured everything, the head and the movements, when you play that opening sequence where you’re aboard the Kellion heading towards USG Ishimura, the first thing people do when they realize they’ve the control of the camera is to spin it to see Gunner’s face because again, he’s the embodiment of Isaac. It was fun to attend all the playtests because they all did that. They were there, watching Gunner. It was really awesome and it was heartwarming to see that.
Gunner Wright : I’ve never been in Dead Space, but what I loved and found interesting was having this traumatized, aging individual that evolves in a linear fashion. I found that smart.
Joel MacMillan : Yes it brought some credibility to the character. Isaac goes through a lot. He’s tortured, I think that’s a fair word to describe the player experience on USG Ishimura. And I think the fact that all the characters and environments are more grounded in reality, with more consistency, really helps give credibility to what the player is experiencing. It’s not just window dressing. It’s not what I call “Starship Troopers beauty” where everyone looks like a supermodel, constantly, no matter what they’re going through. It’s like there’s no blood or dirt on their face. We wanted a little more realism and credibility than that. I think the performance capture, the lighting and the different environmental effects help to reinforce and convey that
Dead Space Remake: radical changes?
This version should enormously the initial formula how far? Will it be much scarier than the 2008 game? How extensive are the changes to the set?
DashFUN : Does Dead Space Remake lean more towards horror or action? Between the two ?
Joel MacMillan : It’s a tricky question, but I would say that it is the horror that prevails. The DNA of the franchise is horror. The franchise ended up exploring other territory, but we really wanted to stick to the basics, which is that horror comes first. And so, no matter the encounters, the experiences, the fights, we wanted to make sure we always had that level of horror, suspense and anxiety. All of this was essential to the player experience, well beyond the action.
For example, during a confrontation, you can dismember your enemies, it’s part of the combat loop. But we wanted to emphasize the horror aspect by making the dismemberment as gory and uncomfortable as possible. When dismembering creatures in our game, you can see tendons, blood, skin, and bones. Everything is very realistic. And it is precisely to reinforce the horror dimension which comes before all the rest.
DashFUN : Because of all the new stuff, will it be more cinematic? Will the changes be massive or of the order of the detail?
Joel MacMillan : This is another good question which, once again, brings us back to one of the mantras which has never ceased to animate us throughout the project. We all had ambitions when we started working on the project, but we constantly asked ourselves “does this need to be changed? “. For example, what was done in the original that was really good? Should it really be changed or simply improved? We therefore questioned ourselves and gave ourselves the challenge of having this reflection for each sequence, each chapter, each experience of the game.
In the end, we felt that a few sequences needed to be added to fill in the gaps in the narration. Geographically, we had to take Isaac here and there, but how? We’ve found ways to do this either immersively through gameplay or through an expanded or dramatic action sequence. Our version is also more focused on characters and emotion. We had the opportunity to dwell more on certain characters and to do this, we had to embellish certain sequences. You will see this in Dead Space Remake whereas it was not necessarily the case in the original version.