The grim thing about prequels is, before you start, you already know how they end. Those aboard the USG Ishimura are fated to become the gruesome enemies from Dead Space, but the story of their final hours is told in such rich detail that the story may be the best part of Dead Space Extraction.
The game plays more like an action shooter than its survival-horror predecessor. Guns and ammo are more prevalent, and much of the strategy is based around when and how to use each weapon. Every gun has a second mode activated by tilting the Wii-mote, though some modes have to be charged to produce their effects. Players need to become talented at switching on the fly between weapons that are best for defeating specific types of necromorphs, and those good for terrain-based challenges. For options outside the campaign, a challenge mode offers waves of monsters to be blown up with different gear.
The characters often fall into horror-movie tropes. There’s the hardened security officer, the shady guy who won’t tell you why he’s there, and the scared woman mourning her recently deceased boyfriend. The game controls your movement and facing, so you often have to grab items as soon as you see them, or miss the opportunity. Events are often timed, which is frustrating when you have to spot a creature’s weakness and determine the best way to exploit it within a few seconds. At least the time issues become easier in co-op mode.
While it isn’t as frightening as the original Dead Space, Extraction gets the game’s vibe down. Many corridors are dark, and can only be lit by shaking your Wii-mote to produce a sickly green glow. Even this light goes out if it isn’t recharged, so at times, players must strategically dismember necromorphs while seeing only silhouettes. The ship is in chaos as demented crew members turn on each other and commit suicide by leaping off nearby ledges into your path. People you travel with start by babbling cryptic messages about death, and end up turning on you. While you may not jump out of your seat, it’s hard to walk away undisturbed.