Originally released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC back in late 2008, the original Dead Space received critical acclaim and commercial success for the way that it combined third person action gameplay, survival horror, enemy movement animations, and UI elements that felt built into the design of the world itself.

The game, which was at times deliberately unsettling with its tone, narrative topics, and enemy designs, was an instant classic, even if its sequels at times failed to live up to the level of quality seen in the series’ first entry.

This past week saw a remake of the original Dead Space released, almost 15 years after the original version of the game launched, updating visual details and gameplay elements to take advantage of modern gaming hardware.

While the updated release of Dead Space does look visually impressive, what was to me more impressive is the degree of updates seen to the game’s level of accessibility. Some of the updates seen have become somewhat standardised in the games industry in the years since Dead Space originally released, such as the inclusion of aim assist and colour blind filters, but some are more surprising to see, such as the addition of Content Warnings to the game.

Dead Space certainly isn’t the first horror video game to ever include content warnings as an option for players, but this remake is perhaps one of the more mainstream examples we have of a horror game that released without content warnings receiving them in a later release, and the ways that the game’s developers have incorporated them are worth discussing alongside the rest of the game’s accessibility options.

Upon first booting up the 2023 Dead Space remake, players are greeted with a generic Epilepsy safety warning screen, followed by a screen with text alluding to the game’s optional content warnings. Where some recent horror games, like Bloober Team’s The Medium, feature incredibly little useful information in these kinds of opening content warning screens, Dead Space actually goes into a surprising amount of depth.

The warning screen goes into some depth on the kinds of topics the game includes with some specificity, including stating that these topics come up both in gameplay and cutscene contexts. The screen also includes a URL, and a QR code, which lead to a webpage that gives more in depth information on these content warnings. For players who are interested, you can read an in depth breakdown, chapter by chapter, of which topics come up in the game, in which chapters, in what order, with more detail explaining each moment.

While I’m not going to go into depth on all of these content warnings at this point in the video, if you do want to know the game’s full list of content warnings broken down by chapter stick around at the end of the video where, after a spoiler warning, we will talk through what the website details.

I will note, as I have seen some players asking about this, the game’s content warnings system does not warn you ahead of time about jump scare moments, designed to catch you off guard purely through the use of unexpected fast shock.

After the broad content warning screen, Dead Space presents the player with an “initial settings” menu, which can be used to tweak several basic settings before the game itself starts. Many of the settings in this menu were, in a positive step forward for EA, detailed in a blog post released just prior to the game’s release.

Players can switch on text to speech menu narration, turn subtitles on or off (they default to on which is nice), switch game difficulty (including a story mode with automatic health regen), and switch on in-game content warnings that display text on screen before potentially distressing scenes are shown.

By delving into More Settings, players find the control and gameplay menus, where they can remap all in game controls, change quick time events so they can be completed with a single button press, make sprint a toggle instead of a hold, make aim input a toggle, make weapons that are out of ammo automatically swap out for a different weapon, turn on aim assist (with sub options for slowing down camera rotation speed when aiming close to an enemy and getting the camera to focus automatically on enemies being aimed at), and more.

In the display and graphics menu, players can tweak motion blur, film grain, as well as applying colour blind filters for three common types of colour blindness.

In Audio, players can tweak a number of sliders to control the volume of elements of the game’s sound balance, as well as setting all game audio to mono, and controlling how mono audio is panned between the left and right channels.

While the initial settings menu only allows for turning subtitles on or off, the languages and subtitles menu allows for subtitle size to be increased dramatically, subtitles can be set to all caps, they can be set to be white on black text or black on white, subtitle background opacity can be changed, speaker names can be switched on, and speaker names can be set to have unique colours per speaker.

Lastly, in the dedicated accessibility settings menu, players can find, among other settings, a supplemental option to the inclusion of content warnings, where players can choose to hide potentially visually disturbing scenes in the game behind a blurred screen filter. Notably, this does not do anything about the audio of those scenes. This includes many of the moments given content warnings in the game, but also includes things like the main character Isaac’s death animations, which are at times particularly violent.

Players can also, in the accessibility menu, turn off the floating motion of the game’s menus, set a persistent centre screen dot to reduce motion sickness, and reduce camera shake effects.

While a lot of gamers online have kicked up a fuss about Dead Space 2023’s inclusion of optional content warnings and screen filter effects, I actually really want to praise the development team for their inclusion. Without going too deep into specifics, I love the original Dead Space, but there are some moments in the game that hit pretty close to home for me, on topics that I have personal experience with. I enjoy the game as a whole, but I appreciate having the option of an on screen reminder when certain scenes are coming up, so that I can brace for what I know are going to be impactful, and emotionally difficult moments.

I’m always a fan of seeing game developers bring accessibility settings to games that were not originally implemented in them. In some games, like Dead Cells, that updated accessibility comes as an update to the original version of the game. In the case of Dead Space, it comes as part of a remake. While I’d obviously love to see the original versions of games receive these kinds of updates where possible, taking the time to ensure that your remake is more playable than the game that it’s based on still really helps to make your game more accessible to more players.

Dead Space 2023 not only made its gameplay elements more playable for players like myself with coordination disabilities, but also made its intentionally disturbing, shocking, or horrifying scenes more accessible to players with specific topics that they find upsetting, which I always appreciate as an option.

Right, for everyone who’s still here, this is the part of the article where I’m going to detail the full list of content warnings for Dead Space 2023, as detailed on the game’s official website, broken down by chapter.

Spoiler warning provided. Now’s your chance to dip out.

Chapter 1

“The upcoming scene contains depictions of a graphic death.”

Chapter 2

“The upcoming section contains depictions of self-inflicted death.”

“The upcoming section contains depictions of a bloody death.”

“The upcoming section contains depictions of suicide.”

“The upcoming section contains graphic depictions of bodily transformation.”

Chapter 3

“The upcoming audiolog contains depictions of self-harm.”

Chapter 4

“The nearby videolog contains needles and depictions of a graphic death.”

Chapter 5

“The upcoming scene depicts a graphic lobotomy.”

“The upcoming audiolog contains depictions of psychological manipulation and medical malpractice.”

“The upcoming audiolog contains a depiction of disturbing death.”

Chapter 7

“The upcoming audiolog contains a depiction of violent self-amputation.”

Chapter 10

“The upcoming section contains depictions of a slow and graphic death by gunshot.”

“The upcoming section contains depictions of suicide.”

“The upcoming section contains depictions of a graphic and violent death.”

“The upcoming section contains depictions of suicide.”

Chapter 12

“The upcoming scene shows a videolog with depictions of suicide.”

“The upcoming section contains depictions of a graphic and violent death.”

Side Mission

“The upcoming audiolog contains a depiction of suicide.”

“The upcoming audiolog contains a depiction of a violent, disturbing death.”

And there you have it, every content warning that you can expect to come across while playing Dead Space 2023. I really appreciate the level of specificity given in these, particularly in cases where there is a delineation between things like self inflicted death vs suicide depictions. It shows a good degree of understanding of how content warnings are meant to be used, and how context can impact whether something will be an issue or not for specific players.

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