Why You Should Try Dead Space With No Music

    When there's no orchestra with you, it's like you're really there.

    The Dead Space remake is here, and it’s marvelous. Largely faithful to its forebear, any alterations have been made with care to preserve and improve the original experience. Developer EA Motive particularly focused on atmosphere and immersion when recreating the sights and sounds of the massive USG Ishimura where Dead Space takes place. The ship has been redesigned to allow seamless travel between its various decks. This remodeling paired with the absence of loading screens means control is rarely taken out of players’ hands. We see Isaac’s perspective the entire game, similar to the modern God of War titles‘ single-shot style.

    With visuals so realistic, and audio so convincingly distanced and directional, you can practically smell the rotting Necromorphs and feel the weight of a Plasma Cutter in your own hand. If you want to crank up the immersion even more without buying a blood-scented candle or wearing tens of pounds of armor, we’ve got a tip that’s as simple as going to the game’s options menu.

    A screenshot of the Dead Space options menu with music turned off

    Try Dead Space With No Music

    In classic horror fashion, Dead Space often uses shrieking string music to heighten the tension of already stressful moments. Necromorphs burst out of ceilings and walls to wailing instruments announcing their arrival. Thanks to the game’s realistic lighting, fog, and particle effects, there will be times you’ll hear their intro music before you lay eyes on them. Hunting for them in the dark while the instrumental cries out is undoubtedly harrowing, and I do recommend anyone playing the game for the first time experience Dead Space with default settings.

    It’s not that any problem with the music inspired me to turn it off. I largely enjoyed it. It’s that the game’s sound design is just that good. The Ishimura’s many moving parts (fans, engines, doors, mining equipment) all realistically emit sound. EA Motive’s audio system convincingly places these sounds at the distance they would be from Isaac through volume control and muffling.

    Playing with PS5‘s 3D Audio settings enabled on the console and through Dead Space‘s settings, the directionality of sound was astounding. I could hear the buzz of fluorescent lights above and then behind me as I passed them by. As I traveled past loud mechanisms and into other rooms, I could still hear them far behind me in my right ear. Necromorphs traveling through vents realistically sound like they’re passing just overhead.

    You can hear all this excellent sound work with music on of course, but with it off it’s in the spotlight. Music is loudest during combat, and with it gone, the hum of your kinesis module, the roar of your flamethrower, and the squelch of limbs being severed come to the forefront.

    Isaac stands in the medical deck of the USG Ishimura in Dead Space
    The sound of fire crackling in front of you, sparks falling from above, and the door closing behind you all convincingly come from their respective direction.

    Alone With Your Thoughts

    With no music, you hear only what Isaac Clarke would hear as he does his best to survive and stay sane on the Ishimura. With no orchestra providing the emotional tone of a moment, all that remains is the aural soundscape of a nightmare. If you’re a fan of From Software’s Souls games, you’re already familiar with the power of letting players explore and take in the environment with no soundtrack. It has a similar effect here. It really grounds you in the moment.

    When not on a video call with a fellow crew member or having a rare face-to-face meeting with a character, the absence of a soundtrack makes you feel even more alone, and isolation is one of Dead Space‘s strongest moods. Though you will sometimes occasionally hear a real or imagined breathy whisper in your ear if you count that as company.

    So give it a shot! After your first playthrough of the game, it’s an interesting new way to experience the game and appreciate the incredible work the audio engineers at EA Motive have done.

    BusterSwordBoy is a video game enthusiast who writes about them here, plays them live on Twitch, and talks about them endlessly to anyone who will listen. Subjectively believes that the PS2 is objectively the greatest console of all time, but also loves games from far older hardware, and new releases as well.

    Latest articles

    Related articles