Isaac and crew are on-board USG Kellion and just as it’s about to dock on the Ishimura, the guidance system malfunctions, leaving the pilots no choice but to crash land right on the Ishimura’s docking station. A pretty bad start for an engineer team, wouldn’t you say? As you progress a bit further into the game, one is given some minor tutorials such as opening doors, opening the menu, and using a nifty little navigation system (which will be explained later on).
Yet something is awfully strange about the Ishimura. For one, it is quiet… maybe a bit too quiet. There are also heaps of suitcases and materials all over the place, which signifies that something is awfully wrong. As soon as Isaac is asked to initiate the ships systems, problems arise as everything goes dark. The only sounds coming are from the vents, where one could hear nothing but strange and guttural sounds. At that instant a Necromorph (these alien-like entities) appear out of nowhere and immediately reduce the Kellion’s crew to a mere 3. Isaac is forced to run away from the scene and find an alternate route to join up with his fellow companions. Eventually Isaac comes across the first weapon of the game (which ironically is also the best) and heads out to find an alternate ship that will let them escape the creature infested Ishimura.
Fortunately for Isaac and crew, there is such a ship left as Isaac traverses through countless Necromorphs to get the ship up and running right at the docking station. But to the crew’s dismay, the ship malfunctions and explodes. Now their only way to survive is to traverse the immense ship and find a way to escape the dreaded ship.
Along the way Isaac discovers audio, video, and text logs which hint at the true identity of the necromorphs and a few spicy little details that entail the true happenings on-board the USG Ishimura. Isaac also comes across a couple new powers such as stasis and kinesis which will help him fend off and cripple those pesky Necros. But with the whole ship taken over by hideous creatures, does an engineer alone stand a chance? Will they escape the Ishimura, or will it be their grave? And finally, will Isaac be able to meet that special someone again, or is it too late? Pick up a copy and find out for yourself.
There is a slight difference when it comes to taking down the Necros that is not prevalent in previous survival horror games. Usually in shooters the objective is to get head shots in order to take down the enemy faster. However, in this game that objective is different. This time players will have to strategically amputate the Necros limbs in order to stop their rampage. While unleashing a barrage of bullets is necessary at times, it’s not always the wisest choice. The Necros will keep coming at you unless you rip them to pieces, so whip out your killing instincts and start hacking.
Another really great mechanism of the game is the navigation system. With it players can press down the R3 button and a blue line appears on the ground telling them where they should head for their next objective. It saves players time and effort considering there is a lot of backtracking in the game, and one could get seriously lost and wind up going somewhere they’re not supposed to yet.
As mentioned earlier, Isaac is given two modules to help him out in his war against the necromorphs: Kinesis and Stasis. With stasis, players will be able to slow down the necromorphs, thus allowing an opening which allows them to hack and shoot off the limbs before the necromorphs know what hit them. It is also used to slow down machinery during small puzzles within the game. Kinesis allows Isaac to pick up objects and shoot them. This is very effective at preserving ammo, for Isaac can pick up sharp limbs or cutting equipment lying around and hurl them at the Necros to stop them in their tracks. The Kinesis module is most often used to pick up or move heavy equipment which also happen to be part of the games minute puzzles.
The game also has two different environments: zero-gravity and vacuum. Within the vacuum players will have to hurry up and complete whatever objective it is before their oxygen runs out. Oxygen can be refilled with either air cans that players can pick up, or small air centers placed along walls that happen to be around vacuum environments (though only a limited supply is available before it runs out; then you’re on your own). The zero-gravity is a bit more fun. Within these environments players can jump across large areas and have the ability to walk on walls. There are also environments where it is both zero-gravity and vacuum, thus making the completion of the objective a bit of a challenge. Oh and did I forget to mention that you also get Necros within environments such as these?
The store option also allows players to purchase much necessary ammo, health, stasis pack (to replenish stasis) and armor upgrades for Isaac. The armor raises Isaac’s armor strength as well as inventory slots, so it’s a real worthwhile purchase. Though the armor tends to be a bit on the pricey side, so players have to choose what is more important, armor or ammo. The game really focuses on conserving ammo because of this. There are rare semiconductors within the game that act sort of like treasures, so if players are even in a pinch for money, the semiconductors can be sold for a high price. Weapons can also be purchased in the store, but only once their schematic has been found. The plasma cutter is the only weapon Isaac actually picks up, every other weapon has to have its schematic brought to the store before being able to be purchased.
There are also upgrade benches all throughout the game. By acquiring power nodes found around the ship (or by purchasing them for a whooping 10,000 at the store), players can look at the weapon’s schematic and upgrade either damage, capacity, shooting speed, and reload time. One thing to note is that not all weapons will be able to be upgraded to max during one whole walk-through, nor will players be allowed to purchase them all, so players have to choose wisely before they decide what to purchase or what to upgrade. Not only weapons, but the rig (Isaac’s health), kinesis power, and stasis power can also be upgraded with the power nodes. They are very rare in the game, and very few, so it forces players to be a bit more “explorative”.
The thing I like most about this game is the navigation thing, which truly saves a lot of time. It very creative and should be done in more games to prevent players from always going to walk-throughs to figure out where to go. It does tend to glitch at times, but its not such a big deal.
Another thing I adored about the game was the fact that everything is done in real time. Whether it was looking at inventory, changing weapons, reading or hearing logs; players will always be vulnerable for Necro attacks, which makes the game even more suspenseful and terrifying (one time I was almost brutally killed while purchasing at the shop).
I also thought it was creative how there was technically only one weapon in the game, the pulse riffle. Anything else that Isaac acquires is either an engineer tool or a mining tool, which is comical to a certain degree. Each weapon has its own unique effect, so players have to choose wisely when deciding which weapons to carry on their first walk-through.
The Necro designs were hideous and revolting, but in a good way. It truly adds to the scare factor when one of these demented and deformed creatures comes at you. Not only that, but each Necro has its own unique weakness, so players have to think and act quickly to dismember them in the right places before they are overcome by a huge horde of creatures.
There are some minor flaws of the game. For one, when in zero gravity there are times when the camera isn’t the best, which leaves you vulnerable for Necro attacks. Another thing to note is that melee attacks aren’t as effective. The only way to truly use the melee attacks is if one uses stasis on the creature before delivering a series of blows. Otherwise you’re just asking for trouble. One of the major ones that I had problems with was the backtracking. I can understand why there would be some instances for it, but the USG Ishimura is huge, so the constant backtracking only helps make the ship look way smaller than it seems.
All in all, I think this is a perfect survival horror game with tons of scares and frustration in store. The messed up rooms, the dead bodies, and the Necro designs only help make the game even scarier and gruesome. One of my favorite little perks of the game is the song that can be heard in certain levels such as chapter 10 in the cafeteria place. If players turn up their volume and listen closely, one could hear a woman singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in the background, making the level freakier.
From messed up creatures to space debris; this game truly makes players feel the need to survive. The controls are good, and the scare factor is excellent. I give this game an 8.5 out of 10.
So strap on your space armor, load up your weapons, and get ready for some Necro shooting fun.