Launched 27 months after the unique sport – again when improvement cycles weren’t absurdly lengthy – Lifeless House 2 discovered success in early 2011, however historical past and on-line dialogue haven’t elevated it to cult standing like they did with the 2008 basic. Going again to it, forward of this month’s shiny remake of the unique, to substantiate my suspicions, I can now proudly declare it’s the very best installment of Visceral’s trilogy. Come at me.
I vividly bear in mind Lifeless House being an enormous sleeper hit in late 2008, robotically changing into one of many scariest video games ever, and with such a giant cliffhanger wrapping up the primary chapter of Isaac Clarke’s story, discuss of a sequel rapidly heated up. That second entry materialized a bit over two years later in Lifeless House 2, a extra action-oriented tackle space-based horror. If Lifeless House, regardless of its greater scale, might be in contrast structurally to Alien, then Lifeless House 2 was clearly borrowing some notes from its explosive sequel, Aliens.
Maybe it was Visceral’s plan all alongside, however Resident Evil 5’s extra action-heavy tackle its materials arrived shortly after the primary Lifeless House and obtained folks speaking, so perhaps that was factored into the sequel’s improvement. We all know that EA has at all times appreciated to chase down developments and rework formulation to hopefully broaden its participant bases, so it’s not a giant leap to think about this Resi-flavoured gear change, particularly when Lifeless House 3 doubled down on that route and ended up shedding sight of what made the primary two video games work so nicely.
I additionally went again to interviews that appear to assist the road of thought that Visceral at all times supposed to broaden the canvas and check out new issues with Lifeless House 2. The factor is that a lot of the adjustments and additions affected the narrative and setting in the beginning, which in flip introduced new alternatives to the sport’s total design (and never the opposite means round). It principally performs and appears like a extra polished model of its predecessor, but the tempo and circulation of each exploration and enemy encounters was formed by the large change of surroundings and a extra bold plot.
Swapping a derelict ship for an enormous house station, Titan, that’s collapsing as you shut down a government-made clusterfuck paid off instantly; gamers have been not simply roaming ruinous areas trying to tinker with methods and equipment whereas preventing off Necromorphs. You have been as an alternative guided by a extra energetic story which had a now fully-voiced Isaac questioning different characters’ motivations and coping with his psychological deterioration brought on by the Marker. Thoughts you, the unique Lifeless House knew what it wished to inform – it simply felt constrained by survival horror conventions.
As a direct results of dropping the Metroid-ish construction of exploring totally different areas of a ship that we knew we’d must discover in full as a result of chapters have been constructed round that concept, Lifeless House 2 is rather more of an unpredictable rollercoaster trip, one that may be each relentless (that first hour is quite a bit) and as dread-inducing as the unique’s scariest sections.
Many purists have claimed through the years this installment already felt a bit too Uncharted-ish in locations, however revisiting it greater than 10 years later, it stays a largely unnerving sport even when the motion is amped up for a couple of minutes. And on most events, it’s only a breezier, much less repetitive evolution of the unique. That’s not a knock on the unique Lifeless House, however a praise to Visceral’s willingness to spice issues up and keep away from retreading outdated floor.
One other marked enchancment which is straight away noticeable is the enemy selection. Whereas the primary sport additionally adopted the “Metroidvania tempo” so as to add new parts and challenges into the combination, Lifeless House 2 hits the bottom working with a number of enemy varieties coming at you, because the dev staff knew full nicely the aspect of shock (no less than with an preliminary reveal of the Necromorphs) merely wasn’t there anymore. In reality, the sport’s first hour already encompasses a transient boss encounter after an enormous set piece. The guts-pounding rigidity is all there – nevertheless it is available in doses of various sizes and isn’t at all times tied to “oh, so now I’m coming into a giant unexplored space of the map the place one thing unhealthy will certainly occur.”
I already talked about how Lifeless House 2 opened up the sequence’ world and overarching storyline in a giant means, and that brings us to a barely deeper forged of supporting characters. After giving Isaac a voice and making him a chatty working-class dude, this was a no brainer. Ellie is a likable ally and meshes nicely with Isaac’s worst fears and regrets as he retains being haunted by hair-rising visions of Nicole, and Administrator Tiedemann’s menace appears like an ideal riff on Weyland-Yutani’s nefarious plans within the Alien sequence. Look, I appreciated working with all-around first rate man Zach Hammond and hating Kendra Daniels’ guts, however more often than not they have been “the folks giving me orders on comms” and little else. Lifeless House 2 expanded on that.
With regards to the areas Isaac should traverse, the Unitologist Church degree deserves a particular point out; it performs out like a giant revelation after studying and listening to a lot about these dogmatic fundamentalists within the first sport and an excellent chunk of the second, and the ambiance is completely on level. With gothic architectural parts that really feel in contrast to anything within the video games and create a completely totally different kind of “haunted home” earlier than the terrifying Necromorph stalkers are revealed, I so want that vibe had lasted some time longer.
And sure, no good Lifeless House 2 assume piece can finish with out applauding some of the disturbing moments in all of gaming: the rattling “needle in your eye” scene. As gory as these video games are, nothing may’ve ready us for such a cringe-inducing bit. The unhealthy consequence is simply the icing on the cake, because the close-up of Isaac virtually shedding his shit whereas controlling the machine plus the twitchy controls make the sequence a tough one to take a seat by way of with out clenching your entire orifices.
We’ve but to see whether or not Motive’s Lifeless House remake is in the end pretty much as good because it seems to be, but when they’ve managed to efficiently improve the basic with out diluting its strongest chunks, I’ll be first in line campaigning for a return to the superior installment.