The team at Visceral is doing what I wish more game companies would do: release smaller games that tell the stories between their larger releases. Dead Space Ignition introduces us to the Sprawl, a large space station that Isaac Hayes will land on in Dead Space 2. Much like Dead Space Extraction did for the original Dead Space, this story fills in interesting details and gives an insight into the setting for Dead Space 2.
Dead Space: Ignition places you in the role of Franco DeLille, a software engineer who is having the worst date ever with Sarah Anderson, a security officer. Routine maintenance quickly becomes a fight for survival as it becomes clear that something is sabotaging the station. Dead Space Ignition is a hybrid of motion comic and puzzle minigame. You will watch a minute or two of story, and then play a puzzle before you progress to the next part of the story.
Since you are a software engineer, all minigames focus on hacking. If you only have a hammer, all your problems look like nails, right? I don’t think Sarah and Franco ever come across a door that is simply unlocked! Fortunately Franco has Sarah to keep the Necromorphs (Dead Space’s version of twisted flesh zombies) at bay while the puzzle hacks are played.
The first of the three types of puzzle is the Trace Route. If you’ve played Art Style Light Trax for Wii, you will instantly recognize this puzzle’s inspiration. You control one light impulse that weaves through a circuit board, while the AI controls differently colored light impulses. Running into an obstacle slows you down, and passing over a boost speeds you up. You are also given a few independent boosts and barriers you can activate to help you beat the AI to the goal. This was my favorite of the three, but it was often frustrating because one mistake would mean losing the level.
The second type of puzzle is the System Override. This puzzle confused me until I realized it was a reverse tower defense game. You simply spam various types of viruses at the circuits various defenses until you eventually overwhelm the goal at the opposite side of the screen. It was fun at first, but after a while, I felt like I was more or less button mashing.
The last puzzle type is Hardware Crack. It involves placing mirrors in a circuit to send a beam to a corresponding colored sensor. This puzzle has been used in many games, from Zelda to Tomb Raider, and was one that I quickly got bored with.
The puzzles are fun at first, but after a while, I got tired of having the story being interrupted every minute, and I just wanted to watch it straight through. In the options menu, you can unlock the entire motion comic, and just watch it as I did. More diligent gamers who complete the game will be rewarded with a bonus suit for Isaac in Dead Space 2.
The motion comic is a mixed bag. I enjoyed the story, and the voice acting was adequate, but the art was very unpolished. Motion was often achieved by simply stretching one part of a character’s face, and often looked quite silly. I still enjoyed my experience, and I am grateful to EA for providing this as a bridge between the two games. Although I watched the entire comic, I did not play the accompanying puzzles, so I rate this game
Game was played for one hour before manually unlocking all cutscenes. Played Playstation 3 PSN version. Click Rating symbol for explanation