Those voices! They come from radios. They come from visions. They come from cult members.
Aboard the Unitology controlled ship Terra Nova, Isaac Clarke and John Carver seek a way off a shattered planet. Inexplicably surviving a cataclysmic event that tore the rock asunder at the end of Dead Space 3, the Awakened content deals in the ride back home. Earth seems like safe haven.
Before dealing with repairs and sending the ship off toward their home planet, they’ll need to detach from the mind-numbing effects of Unitology. Unlike the core game, the DLC dives deeper into the mindset, the mental horror that breaks down Isaac so needed in the main campaign. He has visions of suns and cells replicating, and places himself inside weary landscapes dominated by the Markers.
It is not easy. Not only are the Necromorphs still a heavy presence on the planet’s surface, the cult has taken a clandestine approach. Their repetitious messaging is slung through the halls on dying equipment, always depicting hunger and pain, yet an inescapable pull toward their ranks. Isaac is in the middle, drawn towards a journey home and what disaster could befall Earth if they do make it alive.
Carver is better utilized in Awakened, placed more naturally into the flow of this brief two hour sub-narrative. He is a constant in Isaac’s ear, updating on locations after they split up, and appearing naturally instead of his jumpy nature in Dead Space 3. His character becomes a beacon of logic, whom despite suffering from the same visions, is able to shake them off and guide Isaac as he nears delirium.
For its proper horror structure, which is welcomed after the series nosedived into action, the DLC remains bogged down by familiar problems. On the icy planet, Necromorphs become obnoxiously fierce in their numbers, stretching thin the need for more combat. It is often too much locked to one area as opposed to offering added content. The designs are familiar too, with ship interiors cloned from the campaign, overly fitted with elevators, tacked together by backtracking. It is stunning how much needs crossed over twice in such a short time.
Time spent is still worth it for franchise devotees, the content sharp in the lore with new text logs and grisly images that leave an aftermath of the church ingrained. Sights include people strung up ceremoniously, backlights creating an unnerving angelic glow on their corpse. Church sessions expose the entry process to Unitology, wanted or not, costing lives and bulking up the weight of these brief events.
Most of Awakened is held in the experience and the action. It closes on a slim puzzle that barely qualifies as the solution is hand fed with blinking lights. It is a little something to break from the pace, and those looking for a second run through will then have access to a handful of new parts for weapon customization. There are no new suits or any such additions, just basic updates that strengthen the base roster of boosts.
At $10, you can do worse.