The Callisto Protocol’s Failure Added Momentum to Dead Space Remake’s Success

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Story Highlights

  • Dead Space was initially released to positive reception back in 2008, but that didn’t match its sales.
  • Resident Evil 4 changed the landscape not only for survival horror but also laid the groundwork for shooters.
  • During the late 2000s, the survival horror genre went through a transformation.
  • The resurgence of survival horror & failure of The Callisto Protocol propelled Dead Space Remake’s success.

Survival Horror is one of the most prominent genres in gaming. Having its roots in the gaming scene since the old days, it’s seen a lot of growth over the generations.

Several developers have tried to deliver thrilling survival horror experiences, and some have actually succeeded in doing that. During the early years of the seventh-generation gaming consoles, we saw the release of one such title – Dead Space.

From the creators at Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts, Dead Space was one of the first next-gen survival horror experiences at the time.

That era is what I consider the transformative age of survival horror. With the release of Resident Evil 4 in the early 2000s, the landscape of survival horror as a genre began to change. One can say that it was the beginning of downtime for it as a whole as we slowly began to see a decline in innovation for a while. 

The History of Dead Space

Dead Space saw extensive marketing prior to its release owing to its multimedia universe project. This included comics, promotional games, and even an animation titled Dead Space: Downfall. One would assume that such a scale of marketing would provide some shocking results.

The title launched to glowing reviews, and players around the world approved of it. It’s right there for you to see in old articles and videos. Besides, Metacritic never forgets. Dead Space enjoyed a strong following and positive reception, but to my surprise, it didn’t quite sell well.

I still find it a bit shocking that a project that was not only marketed well but was received positively by critics and players alike failed to meet sales expectations. Soon after, we saw the release of two sequels in the form of Dead Space 2 and the tragic Dead Space 3. As we all know, that was to be the last we’d see of Dead Space until now.

I personally believe that the low sales of Dead Space can be attributed to the overall popularity of the genre, among other factors – especially at the time. While the price cut for the PS3 came a year before Dead Space’s launch, which boosted PS3 sales, I believe driving hardware units would still take some time.

Add to this that Dead Space was a new IP compared to popular franchises like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, and one can understand why Dead Space may have dropped the ball.

We saw quite a few releases during this era. Operation Raccoon City, The Evil Within, and its sequel, to name a few. Not every title was a smash hit, but some were monumental, like Amnesia. 

The Catalyst And A Successful Revival

Dead Space’s remake has been a great success despite the bad taste left by the third entry in the original trilogy. This is entirely due to its own merits of not only staying faithful to the original and building upon it but also being a good game. It’s funny how everything just boils down to one simple act – making a good game.

However, I feel like we must also give credit to another game that saw its launch recently. One that wasn’t as lucky as Dead Space – The Callisto Protocol. Originally developed as a game that took place in the PUBG universe, the title evolved to the point where it became its own thing.

Glen Schofield, one of the creators of the original Dead Space games, helmed the project. He was driven to create something extraordinary for the ninth generation of consoles – a title to rival the original Dead Space.

Modern gaming places its focus on everything that is secondary in determining whether a game is good or not. You see examples of this everywhere every single day. The Callisto Protocol ended up doing the same thing. Placing its focus on lighting techniques and other graphical components to increase immersion, it lost touch with its core.

It’s not that the game doesn’t excel in something; it’s that the focus is placed solely on one element, which detracts from others and leads to a messy product. The game launched with myriad issues pertaining to its performance, while the core gameplay loop was also questionable and underwhelming. 

The shader compilation issue, along with other PC port shenanigans, was also quite a big problem. Sadly, it didn’t have the substance of Elden Ring, and players couldn’t stomach all that. Combined with its overall lack of innovation led to it feeling like a pale imitation of that which came before it.

Bad Isn’t Always Unenjoyable

I want to place emphasis on the fact that an individual can find enjoyment in anything. It’s possible to enjoy a bad game or a bad movie. It’s also alright to do so, but personal enjoyment and satisfaction can’t change the facts.

I personally enjoyed the movie games of The Amazing Spider-Man, but even I can say that those games are far from perfect. There was a lot that was wrong with them, especially The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The funny part is that I often find myself reminiscing about them and would love to play them again someday.

Dead Space’s remake was announced back in 2021, and that was a cause for celebration. With the reveal of The Callisto Protocol and the project being a spiritual successor to Dead Space, the expectations were reasonably high for the latter, though not as much. Being developed by Glen Schofield also added to this fact.

The existence of a Dead Space remake and a spiritual successor may have possibly reignited the fondness people held for the original games (I wonder if that includes Dead Space 3). I’m pretty sure a lot of people were introduced to Dead Space because of The Callisto Protocol, thereby increasing the exposure.

There’s a reason why we’ve been seeing a sudden resurgence in the survival horror genre, and knowing this reason is crucial.

Return of Survival Horror

We all know that Resident Evil 4 has seen itself released on every single console in existence (an obvious exaggeration, but it kinda came close). Along with that, Resident Evil 7 and 8 were well received. But the game that showed a way forward was the remake of Resident Evil 2.

The way Capcom handled this remake, along with Square Enix’s FFVII Remake project, is, in my opinion, the factor that solidified this trend. I may be giving too much credit here, but we can’t deny the quality of these projects.

While many treat remakes as a way to make more money, Resident Evil 2 delivered a quality experience while staying true to its roots and building upon the original. This led to a whole chain of remake projects with Resident Evil 3 and the latest Resident Evil 4.

The success of these remakes and the boom in the genre’s popularity is what set the groundwork for the new Dead Space. Following up with the tragic failure of a spiritual successor that had a ton of potential may have reinforced people’s faith in the remake.

I love video games, and it’s sad to see how the landscape has changed over the last decade or so. Monetization is running rampant, and the industry is focusing on pointless technology rather than actually making a good game.

As a result, we get a sea of redundant and mediocre titles with vast potential that couldn’t be realized. I still find myself wishing for Scalebound to exist. That IP had amazing potential, but several factors led to its cancellation.

Owing to this momentum built by everything that came before it and by being a good game, Dead Space launched to a fairly resounding success. Nothing is perfect, and the remake has its flaws as well, but I believe it achieves what a game should, first and foremost – fun

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