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Original Article: 2023 will see the return of the Dead Space franchise with a remake of the original game. While it’s exciting to see such a celebrated survival horror series return there are always a number of questions that come along with making a remake.
When recreating a piece of media that everyone’s familiar with, there’ll always be certain expectations about what it’ll involve. What’s going to be changed, what’ll remain the same, and probably most importantly, why does this need to be remade?
Video game remakes come in all shapes and sizes, some faithful to the original game while others make drastic differences. One thing that’s especially interesting is the recent trend of remaking more modern games. Well, I say modern but a lot of these are over ten years old.
With games like Dead Space, Resident Evil 4, and Demon Souls, which all play mostly fine but by today’s standards, what changes can be made to justify paying $60-70 USD to play them all over again? For today, let’s look at what generally makes a successful video game remake for modern consoles.
Updating The Original
This might sound counter-intuitive at first but I think the first thing important for a video game remake is not to just straight-up copy the original. When we think of video game remakes, we usually consider them more or less the same game but with a new graphical overhaul and that’s not a bad thing but it also doesn’t mean should be exactly the same either.
One of the main reasons people request remakes in the first place is that the original game may not be very accessible, whether that’d be just finding the game due to being on an older console or the gameplay itself being dated. A remake can be a prompt time to iron out the kinks in these older titles and if you can, it’s best to do so because those flaws will be even more apparent when repackaging it as a modern game.
A good example of this is the 2018 remake of Secret of Mana, a classic SNES Action RPG. The remake was more or less the same game as the original Secret of Mana and included all of its flaws like the bad hit detection, cumbersome menus, and awkward combat.
The point here is even if you can add even it’s just a few quality-of-life features, they’re worth adding to the remake. Even games that attempt to be as accurate to the original version as possible like The Demon Souls Remake made subtle but numerous changes like omnidirectional rolling, as well as new weapons and armor to ensure a tighter version of the title. They may not necessarily convince veterans to double dip but for newcomers, these are now the best way to experience these older titles.
Going Past The Original
For some remakes, however, it isn’t enough to just give the original a new coat of paint, they need to completely reimagine the game from the ground up. Implementing new story beats, and even changing the combat for modern audiences.
This takes on an even bigger task, as you’re now asking how much you wish to change from the original and what should be left intact. We all know how fiercely protective some people can be of their favorite games and would prefer for them not to be altered in the slightest.
Resident Evil 2
The biggest example of this is probably the 2019 Resident Evil 2 Remake. This game saw the original’s classic survival horror fixed camera angles and tank controls replaced with modern Resident Evil over-the-shoulder camera and third-person shooting with a more cinematic take on cutscenes and visuals. Overall it feels like an entirely different game from the original PS1 title.
Yet it’s still faithful to Resident Evil 2, in fact, it expands on everything offered in that original game. The remake not only brought The Police Station to life but made it a true house of terror, cast in shadow with remnants of the dead around every corner. The enemy is also far more intimidating. This is the first Resident Evil where I actually thought the zombies were scary. When they sink their teeth into you, it looks visibly painful.
The most notable new addition however is the increased role of Mr. X. In the original game, he would show up at set events in the new game plus but here, he chases you the entire game right from the start making him far more memorable and anxiety-inducing. It feels as though the remake tapped into the full potential of the character to make him an even bigger threat than he already was. Resident Evil 2 Remake may have a lot of differences from the original but it captures the dark atmosphere the original was aiming for and uses modern technology to recreate it to great effect.
Back To Dead Space
The new Dead Space Remake will be coming out on the 27th of January. While I haven’t played the game much, it already seems to have the makings of a good remake. It fully recreates the gore and horror of the original while also adding new elements like seamless loading sequences, the new ‘peeling system’ to break enemies apart and the protagonist no longer being silent. These are aspects that both modernize and expand on the original.
There’s no one way to remake a game but they usually have two goals in mind: bring back the old fans with a new entry and bring in new fans that want to play for the first time. With this in mind, accessibility and faithfulness are most important to game remakes. Old games may not hit modern audiences the same way they did before so making the gameplay more accessible, even if it’s something as simple as upping the framerate can be a significant change that brings more people in.
Faithfulness is the harder one to pin down. I don’t believe being faithful means simply recreating the original game shot for shot, but rather grasping what it is that made the original so loved in the first place. The various worlds and mechanics of Live A Live, or the joys of exploring and collecting Pokemon in an older region, pinning these down and expanding on them is a big part of what made their remakes so fun and interesting for both newcomers and returning fans.