It's been around six years since Dead Space 3, the survival horror developed by Visceral Games, left a void in our gaming desires so deep that we weren't sure anything could fill it. However, following a short demo at Rezzed last week, we think we might have finally found a successor. Negative Atmosphere, developed by Sun Scorched Studios, is a survival horror game that puts you, the player, in the boots of a man looking for a way off of a cursed and overrun spacecraft. Yes, it does sound very similar to the plot of the original Dead Space but that's not a bad thing.
The demo opens in an eerie corridor aboard the dreaded TRH Rusanov. Our character, Samuel Edwards, is a stoic ex-combat medic who shares a lot in common with Isaac Clarke, most notably the holographic HUD beaming out from his back. Pools of blood and assorted entrails litter the floor and surrounding walls of this ironically named Medical Bay. Anybody in their right mind would take this as an omen and walk the other way, but not us. We press forward down the corridor only to find the door locked. Another omen, however, this time the only option is to turn back. That was when it happened. A damned creature, no longer human, burst through a side door and instantly lunged for us, blood dripping from the contorted mess of tendons and flesh it knows as a body. We ran as fast as we could down the only open passage, fear guiding us like a shepherd through the darkness when suddenly more of those wretched monsters appeared and swarmed us from every direction. We fought hard but it was all in vain. Game over.
This was the first scare of the demo and definitely not the last. However, this fleeting moment of terror brought back so many emotions, feelings that we had forgotten since the Dead Space series disappeared into darkness six years ago - and this was after playing around fifteen seconds of the demo. Whilst we can't speak for the full game, it is worth noting that the portion of the demo we played was extremely unforgiving and challenging, and just trying to get past this short section took us a few attempts.
So, how exactly does Negative Atmosphere feel to play? The game has the same signature over-the-shoulder third-person view that Dead Space utilised. The locomotion is also very similar and feels a bit sluggish. Combat is also the same: slow and deliberate. Don't expect to be able to sprint down a corridor while unleashing a lead tornado behind you because it's simply not possible. We can't really speak too much about the variety of weaponry in the game either, as we only managed to get our hands on the SMG in the demo. Also, when smacking an enemy, it better be your last resort because it usually doesn't work out too well.
During the demo, we encountered some zombie-looking creeps. These creatures have bloody claws growing from their once-living bodies. However, one thing that was even more terrifying was a robotic enemy who put on a better display of being a terminator than Arnie himself. Hearing it tell us to not "damage company property" as we took aim before it pinned us to the ground and literally punched us in two was enough to make us wince. This enemy type is to Negative Atmosphere what the synthetics were to Alien: Isolation as they provided another level of fear to conquer while also bringing some diversity to how players must progress and figure out the game's style. The reason why the enemies look and act this way is that the ship has been struck with a mysterious contagion, causing almost every robot and living creature to mutate into a disgusting creature whose only goal is to destroy any life around them.
When speaking to the developers about what the influences for this new scary experience were, they shared that it was inspired by sci-fi horror games stating, "it's like Dead Space meets Resident Evil". No wonder Negative Atmosphere showed the right balance of tension building and fear-provoking moments, which in turn made for an engaging, albeit brief survival horror experience. It doesn't currently have a release date however it has been suggested that the game will come to Steam, with consideration for other stores such as Epic or GoG. As for information regarding consoles, they did say that they would like to release it on more platforms in the future, but no guarantees were offered. If Negative Atmosphere can capture the spirit of those games that inspired it, it's certainly not hard to imagine it making its way to consoles one day.