in

What made Dead Space an unforgettable game and what is left of it in The Callisto Protocol?

Anyone who has played Dead Space still remembers it. Despite a failed third party, his first two installments were superb. We screamed so loud being Isaac Clarke that surely in space they heard our screams, although it is impossible. We remember it and we spoke with Steve Papoutsis, executive producer of The Callisto Protocol, a new horror video game that seeks to repeat the sensations of Dead Space.

One of the most surprising trailers we saw during The Games Awards 2020 gala was The Callisto Protocol. We loved it because it was very similar to one of the most beloved sagas on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360: Dead Space. The similarities were not mere coincidences. The studio in charge of developing the game is called Striking Distance Studio, and among its ranks are the original creators of Dead Space. Steve Papoutsi, executive producer of The Callisto Protocol, and producer on Isaac Clarke’s first and second adventures, He explained to me what this new title will be about: “The story of The Callisto Protocol will take place on Callisto, the satellite of Jupiter, in the year 2320. Players will have to discover the dark secrets of Black Iron Prison.”

The creative does not go into much more detail. “We will tell more about the protagonist, the universe and the story over the next year, but we believe that our writers have developed a fantastic original story.” Black Iron Prison takes us back to our journey through USG Ishimura in 2008. Isaac Clarke, an engineer, had to travel to this mining ship to repair it. Its interior was revealed like a claustrophobic and intricate space packed with dark rooms, tunnels and narrow corridors. In reality, the Ishimura was not a prison, but it ended up functioning as such. That is why the evolution of the game space seems logical and natural.

Much of the success of Dead Space was due to the success in creating its enemies, the necromorphs. These deformed and deadly beings were nothing more than the corpses of Ishimura herself, mutated by a virus that gave them a new life. There is something very interesting about the game’s combat, in how Isaac Clarke fought them with everything in his power. He is not a marine, he is not a warrior, he is an engineer, so he struggles with his tools of work and with his ingenuity. Therefore, Dead Space felt like a battle between the intelligence of our character against the brutality of the monsters we faced. How much of that is still in effect in 2020? And most importantly, how much of it is in The Callisto Protocol?

From the Ishimura of Dead Space to Callisto

The Callisto Protocol: What made Dead Space an unforgettable game and what is left of it in The Callisto Protocol?

The funny thing is that the Visceral Games title placed its action in a context in which the resources of Earth were exhausted. The Ishimura had traveled far to get more. Did these necromorphs represent the tremendous mistake made by humans? Was Isaac Clarke an allegory of the only thing that could save humanity: the use of intelligence? The executive producer of The Callisto Protocol and Dead Space explained to me that to achieve this connection with Isaac they integrated much of the HUD in the body of the engineer. At the end of the first decade of the year 2000, it was shocking to be able to check his health by looking at the color of his spine, as well as access the inventory through a hologram that was projected from his body.

The Callisto Protocol Xbox SeriesThe Callisto Protocol

It was thanks to this combination of ideas that we we feel so close to our avatar. It’s easier to feel immersed as a worker in distress than as an all-powerful one; especially if the rest of the elements of the game support this intention. But not only these decisions favored the immersion. Bringing all the information to the body of our protagonist focused the focus on that, on his body, on his back. In your flesh. Dead Space can be classified within the subgenre of body-horror horror games, a type of fear that focuses its energies on fearing that we will be eaten, that our body will be deformed or that our intestines will be scattered on the ground; also in absolute panic of turning into necromorphs. If you know the filmography of David Cronenberg, you will know what I am talking about.

The great thing is the combination of this fear with the type of monster we face, and the accent that it makes so that we understand that our body is important, sensitive, vulnerable and vital. To finish curling the curl, Isaac attacks his enemies also destroying his anatomy, severing it, to become himself the terror of the necromorphs. This twist is common in horror and action titles, it is the one imposed by Resident Evil from its origins, but here it works especially well. This sum of ideas managed to transmit us unique sensations, and they are the same that we want to see in The Callisto Protocol.

The Callisto Protocol Xbox Series

And it is that there are many of these elements that point to also being in the new space horror video game. The boy who appeared in the introduction trailer also had a life meter on his neck. At the beginning of it he appeared speaking with a hologram, a technology that seems similar to what Isaac used to view his inventory. In a few moments, a monster appeared before himHe opened his mouth and threaded his tentacles into her flesh. It did not seem that those who watched the scene on the other side of a screen were surprised, so we can deduce that in Black Iron Prison they are doing experiments with these creatures and with human beings. Most likely, the health meter on the neck is useful to know that the monsters’ food is in good condition.

The Callisto ProtocolThe Callisto Protocol Xbox Series

After this first instant, a character looks into space, at the surface of Callisto. This satellite is composed mainly of rock and ice, it is very old and it is possible that there is an ocean inside it, which opens the possibility that life would have existed a long time ago. This can take history in two directions. The first is to continue with the Dead Space idea of ​​searching for a new planet to inhabit or resources to exploit. The second is that that life is something the scientists in your game are trying to investigate. Taking into account that it seems that they have located a prison here, the second is the most plausible option, but why is it being experimented with? Continuing with the similarities with Clarke’s adventure, the engineer could make use of a stabilizer module to freeze enemies and different elements of his environment. The studio may now want to expand Isaac’s range of powers much further, obtaining them through experimentation with monsters. This idea makes a lot of sense in how this development studio understands horror. Of course the question now is: twelve years later, has the way they want to scare us changed or will it follow Dead Space patterns?

Steve Papoutsis mentioned the usual references when it came to getting inspiration for his new game; of course, with Alien at the head of all. Considering that since 2008 the horror genre has come a long way, and PT has revolutionized everything, I asked him if Hideo Kojima’s experience influenced the team. His answer was “PT is a completely different style of horror from The Callisto Protocol, which takes its foundations from classic horror from sci-fi movies. On the other hand, PT uses the influences of Japanese terror to build its world as Silent Hill did before. “He also spoke to me about the importance of writing characters like Isaac Clarke, individuals with strengths and weaknesses, perfect for the type of experience that we fascinated with Dead Space.

A horror game in the PUBG universe

The Callisto Protocol

Everything seems to indicate that The Callisto Protocol wants to be a worthy heir to Dead SpaceDefinitely, so I have been able to speak with the producerEverything seems to indicate that The Callisto Protocol does want to be a worthy heir to Dead Space. I had my doubts because this game is located in the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds universe; Yes really. But the idea of ​​the game was born without taking this title into account and, simply, they adapted it to fit later. With a date yet to be defined, we look forward to it in 2022. As Isaac Clarke said: “Good men have good intentions. We just don’t always end up doing good.” I hope that this is not the case and that the good intentions of Steve Papoutsis and his team do manage to bring us back the same feelings we experienced in 2008. Now we can only wait. Shall we take a PUBG while?