Dead Space 3 And The Sound Of Fear

Dead Space 3 has come and gone. Some folks loved it, others were a little disappointed in the direction the series has taken, but no one could deny that the team at Visceral have an incredible, undeniable grip on the use of sound in video games. I would argue it's the defining feature of the series. This fascinating seven-minute documentary goes behind the scenes at Visceral to discuss the different techniques employed to scare the living shit out of you.

One point made by Audio Director Nick Laviers really stuck with me: he says it's the sound that connects you to the world, and it helps you to believe in that world. That's true, and it's subtle. This video is just a great look at an often overlooked aspect of game development and design. Really interesting stuff.


    Another great point made was that "sound is your first line of defence". Fear comes from an overactive imagination, and the most effective way to feed that is through sound - by the time you let the player see what is actually out to get them, it's too late to make them afraid.

    The most obvious problem with DS3, imo, is that every necro you fight in the game, aside from one type (which is almost always seen before it is heard, and is interestingly shown in this video) was shown, in entirety, in trailers and gameplay demos - they showed the necros and how to fight them before we even got a chance to start imagining what was there. The interpretation of the sound then changes from "what is that... is it five enemies with four limbs each, or one enemy with twenty?" to "how many of them are there, where will they spring from?", which severely limits what can be imagined, and changes the focus of the player from imagining what could be making those sounds to planning the encounter.

      Are you assuming that everyone watched all the gameplay footage and demos before playing it? Because i didn't. I rarely do for reasons like that. So the sound rang true for me. People weren't just disappointed in DS3, they tried to hijack metacritic and labelled it a travesty, one of the worst games of all time. Just like they did with Mass Effect 3, DMC and even the vitriol for Aliens: CM was ridiculous. The game was a disaster? It was shit but it's not the first time we've had a shit licensed game from a good developer. Did we really have to wonder why it turned out so bad? Why don't we have an expose on MindJack while we're at it? If you've played that then nothing Aliens: CM could do would surprise you.

      I make a point of playing underwhelming games every now and then to keep myself humble. Instead of using only negatives to fill my plate, now i appreciate the good design in games, even if it might be lacking in some areas. I llike to be able to say things like "I enjoyed Dead Space 3 and as usual, the sound was great. I felt like the game was padded out with busy work towards the end but it didn't totally marr my action sci-fi experience." Articles like this are important to keep people aware of the countless components that go into a video game experience. People are usually extremely quick to judge based on whatever they've heard on the internet at the time. If they've heard Dead Space 3 is going to be action-heavy then that is now how it's defined by them. The music doesn't matter, they don't care. I wish more did but i can only see people caring less and attacking more as time goes on.

        Firstly, no. I don't assume that everyone watched all the promotional material, but I similarly don't expect publishers to allow demonstrations that spoil such a core part of the game, and as such, I expected there to be more to the game itself. I sincerely doubt that everyone who disliked it had this specific reason for doing so.

        Secondly, calm down. I had no idea anyone had bombed it on metacritic, and frankly, I still can't see why such a flawed system as metacritic ratings is used as a metric of a game's success.

        I rather enjoyed the game - it's a competent third-person action game. I hated the first half, but that was mainly because I was playing it as if it were a horror game, which didn't work; once I changed my playstyle to suit an action game I had a great time. All I said was that the audio fell flat for me, and proposed a possible reason. The only reason I mentioned it at all was because I found it odd that the game designers were saying this "first line of defense" thing while their marketing team was actively compromising that idea months before the game even released.

        And I certainly don't agree with review bombing, even on a site as heavily flawed as metacritic - it serves only to further the gamer stereotype that has plagued this community for the last decade+. If gamers want to be treated like adults, they should stop overreacting to every little thing that a publisher does wrong. Every game that is slightly subpar gets labelled "the worst game of all time", it's all so melodramatic.

    One interesting thing I noticed from Dead Space 1 and 2 is that the game won't let you know that a Necromorph is tailing you until you spot it. If one spawns behind you where the camera isn't looking, it will quietly follow you until its close enough, or you turn around. At which point the soundtrack makes a sting and starts a sensation of thinking that something might be behind you at all times.

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