HUD Dead Space has not yet been surpassed


Motive Studio’s upcoming Dead Space remake will allow both new and longtime fans to experience Isaac Clarke’s first adventure through a modern-day lens. The tense atmosphere of the derelict U.S.G. Ishimura, the satisfying feel of Isaac’s repurposed engineering tools, and of course, the unsightly movements, sounds, and appearances of the Necromorphs will all be fully rebuilt from the ground up using the Frostbite engine. In addition to updated features, certain negative aspects of the original Dead Space such as loading screens will be greatly minimized and content that was previously cut out due to time constraints might also be added. All in all, these improvements will deliver a more complete and immersive experience that builds upon the original game.

One aspect of Dead Space that made it into the final version and its sequels was the inclusion of a diegetic heads-up display (HUD). Promoted as a selling point for the series, Dead Space’s HUD elements were smartly integrated into the game’s fictional technologies. Many games after Dead Space have tried to incorporate components of the series’ HUD, but none have quite captured the same level of immersion that Dead Space’s displays do.

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Immediate Information Without Distraction

Dead Space’s HUD elements are intuitive because of where they are located. Isaac’s Resource Integration Gear (RIG) suit displays his health along the spine – where it can be seen by the player at all times due to the nature of the game’s over-the-shoulder camera. The RIG’s health system works on a segment and color scheme, with more segments being added as Isaac gains more hit points. The colors are easier to discern. An aqua blue spine means that Isaac is above 75% health, green denotes he is over 50%, yellow shows when he is below 50%, and a continuously blinking red means that he is below 25% and near death.

Beside Isaac’s health indicator is a circular Stasis bar on his back which shows his remaining energy for his Stasis module. Considering Isaac is an engineer, there are times when he has to slow down fast-moving machinery in order to make repairs and adjustments. These machines aren’t always in the safest spots, so in addition to the Stasis bar, Isaac’s RIG also comes with an oxygen indicator for when he enters the vacuum of space.

Next to health, oxygen, and energy, the next most important thing players look for is how much ammunition their tools have. This information is shown on each Dead Space weapon’s futuristic display screen which is placed somewhat close to the bottom right-hand side of the player’s monitor or TV. This is the most common aspect of Dead Space’s HUD that other games borrow from. In addition to a traditional HUD ammo counter (which is coincidentally almost always placed at the bottom right-hand side of the player’s screen), the remaining ammo in a weapon’s magazine is shown on a screen located on the said weapon. But because the presence of the HUD ammo counter is much more pronounced, players don’t look at the in-game ammo counter as much.

With the health, oxygen, and energy displays on Isaac’s back and the ammo counter neatly tucked in the weapon, Dead Space frees up a lot of screen space for players to get immersed in Isaac Clarke’s firsthand experience with Necromorphs. Since the most important information can be seen when players need it, they don’t have to make as many eye movements or pauses in gameplay. Healing items and ammo reserves are replenished with dedicated button presses, making every facet of gameplay feel immediate and on the spot.

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Additional Details Courtesy of The RIG

In addition to showing Isaac’s health, oxygen, and energy meters on his back, the RIG also can project holographic displays that give Isaac more in-depth information. These include mission objectives, stored text files, videos, and audio data, details on the items he has obtained, and quite possibly the most important feature of all: the ability to communicate with other RIG users. This may seem like a lot for players to digest, but the RIG neatly classifies each piece of information into easily accessible tabs. In keeping with the immersive nature of Dead Space, however, accessing the RIG’s holographic displays does not pause the gameplay; forcing players to be mindful of when and where they decide to get their read on.

Apart from information Isaac has already accrued, the RIG also provides players with a 3D map of the area. This feature comes with a projectable light that can guide players to specific locations – be they mission objectives, Benches where Isaac can upgrade his gear, save stations, or stores. Players who often get lost in the dark, winding hallways of the U.S.G Ishimura will find this feature to be a godsend.

Dead Space’s lack of a proper HUD plays an integral part in the series’ overall immersion. Instead of relying on floating icons that detract from the experience, players have to embrace their inner Isaac Clarke and use the information the in-game technology provides them with. Doing so creates an uninterrupted gameplay loop which heightens players’ senses when playing a game in this horror game franchise.

Dead Space will release on January 27, 2023, on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.


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