Dead Space is one of those unforgettable, classic games that became huge specifically because it didn’t shy away from exploring new territory and, of course, because it offered the kind of unadulterated carnage that nothing else could match back in 2008.
At its core, Dead Space is a survival horror game with a sci-fi setting, so that’s what we’ll be keeping in mind when selecting what we feel are the best games similar to Dead Space that you can play in 2021.
However, we should note that Dead Space is a rather unique game overall, so few games come anywhere close to delivering the same kind of experience.
Nonetheless, there is a number of good horror games out there, and if you liked Dead Space, you’re bound to like some of these as well!
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Resident Evil 4
Starting off, there’s the obligatory mention of the cult game that heavily inspired Dead Space – Resident Evil 4. This game, released in the now-distant 2005, came out a few years before Dead Space and was revolutionary in its own right.
And while its European setting, complete with run-down villages and medieval castles, is a far cry from the sci-fi environments of Dead Space, the atmosphere is still spot on and it can easily pull the player into the game world.
More importantly, the core gameplay simply screams Dead Space, which only makes sense considering that both the survival elements and the combat system of Dead Space was heavily based on Resident Evil 4. This includes the inventory management and the signature over-the-shoulder view that Resident Evil 4 popularized in the first place.
So, the player has to manage their inventory space, keep track of their health and ammo, all the while taking on hordes of zombies as they rush to reach the next save station. The Las Plagas parasites that comprise the bulk of the enemies encountered in Resident Evil 4 never quite reach necromorph levels of grotesque, but they make for some very gruesome and memorable encounters nonetheless.
Now, since this is a 2005 game, it’s obvious that Resident Evil 4 has some drawbacks. First, you’ll notice that the combat can feel very clunky, mainly because the player is unable to move while aiming.
In addition to that, the overall story and atmosphere aren’t as dark and oppressive as what Dead Space has to offer, but regardless, this game is a must-play for anyone who likes survival horror games and hasn’t given it a try already.
Apart from this game, you’d also likely enjoy a number of other Resident Evil games that have come out over the years. You can see the full list here but we’d say that the 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 is an absolute must-play for Dead Space fans, as it refines the gameplay mechanics while maintaining a very distinct old-school feel.
The Evil Within
The Evil Within is another game heavily reminiscent of the Resident Evil series, and it only makes sense considering that it was created by none other than Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil himself.
That said, The Evil Within is a third-person survival horror game where the player has to make do with a limited amount of supplies and use stealth to avoid dangerous encounters. The enemy roster is filled with memorable and well-designed creatures, albeit they lean more towards surreal and nightmarish than towards the sheer brutality of Dead Space’s necromorphs.
The game has also received a sequel in 2017 titled simply The Evil Within 2, and it was a good sequel that did what sequels usually do best – it expanded upon the base set by the original, improving it by offering better graphics, more refined combat, and adding some new features that enhance the experience as a whole.
In any case, both are definitely worth trying out if you’re a fan of Dead Space, although much like Resident Evil, The Evil Within ultimately doesn’t end up being as dark and oppressive as Dead Space, mainly because it can sometimes really be too over-the-top with its enemies and scares.
From a gameplay and mechanics standpoint, the 2017 reboot of Prey is more akin to BioShock than to Dead Space, as it is a first-person shooter with a lot of RPG elements that requires the player to be creative with their many abilities rather than just pointing and pulling the trigger.
However, it is still an amazing survival horror game and it’s setting – a devastated orbital space station – makes it feel sufficiently “Dead Space” to be included on the list, as far as we’re concerned.
The main enemies encountered in Prey are the shapeshifting aliens known as the Typhoon, and as mentioned above, the player has to get creative when it comes to dispatching them as their weapons arsenal is fairly limited.
Something that Prey handles even better than Dead Space does is the level design. Namely, the space station where the events of the game take place is designed as a cohesive whole, not a collection of separate levels connected by trams.
Moreover, Prey also puts a lot of stock in its RPG elements, so there is a degree of player agency and a greater focus on the story than what we’ve seen in the original Dead Space.
At the end of the day, our main issue with Prey is its lack of enemy variety, which is a bit ironic considering how many options the Typhoon leave open with their shapeshifting and psychic abilities.
Moreover, the horror aspect of the game isn’t really the focal point, so it’s nowhere near as scary and unnerving as Dead Space can be. Regardless, we feel that Prey is easily one of the better games released over the course of the previous decade and it’s more than worth playing.
Alien: Isolation is perhaps a bit of an odd entry on this list, seeing as how it differs from Dead Space in nearly every aspect as far as the gameplay is concerned. And sure enough, the player won’t be gratuitously dismembering hordes of grotesque enemies with repurposed mining equipment, but Alien: Isolation is still easily one of the best sci-fi survival horror games ever made.
While the game does feature several weapons and gives the player the option to engage human and android enemies in combat, the better part of the game is spent avoiding and hiding from a threat that cannot be killed using guns or any other tools at the player’s disposal – the titular alien. And, as you’d expect, the game also features a crafting system and includes a lot of scavenging for resources.
Ultimately, what really makes this game are its unique retro-futuristic aesthetic based on the original Alien film from 1979, as well as the superb AI that makes the xenomorph highly flexible and unpredictable. Not only does this keep the player on their toes most of the time, but it also gives the game a lot of replayability.
Next, we have another somewhat unusual entry, and it’s Doom 3. As you probably already know, this game has something of a reputation. And sure enough, it is far from the best Doom game and it is outright reviled by some hardcore fans of the franchise.
Why? There are several reasons behind its infamy, but the main source of controversy was the fact that Doom 3 abandoned the fast-paced action that its predecessors were known for in favor of a slower, more horror-oriented approach.
That said, Doom 3 is often judged based on how it measures up to the cult games that came before it rather than its own merits, and while the original release of the game had its share of flaws, the updated BFG Edition that you can get today solves most of the issues that plagued the original.
So, while it may feel somewhat archaic by today’s horror standards, Doom 3 sports some very good enemy and environment design, and it’s even more impressive from a technical standpoint when you consider that it was originally released all the way back in 2004.
Most of the game’s environments are shrouded in darkness and it starts off very slow, although the action ramps up in the second half of the game. Moreover, it cannot really be classified as survival horror, but the player still has to keep an eye on their ammo and can’t go on a shooting spree.
In any case, Doom 3 is definitely worth giving a shot if you’re after sci-fi horror set in space, as it features a rather unique blend of occult imagery and sci-fi elements that works surprisingly well even after all these years.
Moving on, we get to yet another unusual entry – an isometric point-and-click game from 2015 called Stasis. That said, this isn’t a game that you’re going to play for its fast-paced combat but rather for its atmosphere and story.
From a gameplay standpoint, you’ll know exactly what to expect if you’ve ever played any point-and-click adventure game – you use the cursor to move the character around and interact with objects in the environment, all the while using and combining items in your inventory to solve puzzles and advance the plot.
Obviously, Stasis is more of a niche title and it won’t appeal to a very wide audience, but those who like sci-fi horror and are fans of this particular genre are going to have a field day with the game, as it simply oozes atmosphere and is heavily inspired by the likes of Event Horizon, Alien, and of course, Dead Space.
Space Hulk: Deathwing
If you find that the most appealing aspect of Dead Space is the gratuitous slaughter of enemy hordes, then you might enjoy Space Hulk: Deathwing.
This is an FPS game set in the Warhammer 40K universe that has the player assume the role of a Space Marine Librarian equipped with a massive Terminator armor, thus combining the brute force and heavy weaponry with formidable psychic abilities.
Sadly, the game doesn’t offer much from a narrative standpoint and the gameplay is a bit shallow, as it mostly comes down to “aim and shoot” with the occasional use of a special ability, something that can get quite repetitive fairly quickly.
However, the environment design and the atmosphere are both superb, and the game can remain entertaining for quite a while if you play it with a couple of friends.
For the final entry, we have a game that hasn’t actually been released yet but one that’s shaping up to be one of the most memorable sci-fi horror games made to date, and it’s called Scorn.
Heavily inspired by the art of H.R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński, Scorn will have a very unique and memorable aesthetic, combining gore and body horror with bizarre biomechanical constructs and environments.
Judging by what we’ve seen so far, it will be a slow-paced survival horror game that will prioritize atmosphere over everything else, relying heavily on environmental storytelling, although it remains to be seen what the final build of the game will play like.
Scorn is expected to launch in November 2021, and we’d say that it’s definitely something to look forward to if you’re a sci-fi horror fan.
And that would be our selection of games that we feel are similar to Dead Space in one or multiple aspects, though as you can see, Dead Space is a rather unique experience and not many games come close to emulating it.
We’ll be adding more games to this list from time to time so be sure to check back often!