Note: This article has been translated from Italian by ChatGPT and may contain errors.
Does it make sense to compare The Callisto Protocol and Dead Space? Well, considering that they’re both the work of the same creator who clearly took inspiration from his previous work to create something very similar, the comparison isn’t entirely illogical. So, let’s play this game. In the red corner, we have The Callisto Protocol, and in the blue corner, Dead Space. Who will emerge as the winner?
THE PLOT: Nostalgia might be speaking here, but Dead Space‘s story was more captivating and disturbing. There was a sense of mystery that isn’t quite present in The Callisto Protocol. Nevertheless, I find the latter’s plot interesting, especially given the revelations in the final moments. Dead Space had the advantage of having three main installments to develop its narrative (unfortunately, it didn’t conclude…). The Callisto Protocol isn’t starting off on a bad note and it remains to be seen how it will unfold. However, the feeling of dealing with a poor copy of Dead Space occasionally creeps in.
THE ENEMIES: I have no doubt about this: Dead Space triumphs in this category. The necromorphs are iconic and charismatic adversaries, while The Callisto Protocol‘s mutants are bland and uninspired. Indeed, they are a truly poor imitation of necromorphs. A poor imitation, indeed.
THE ATMOSPHERE: While The Callisto Protocol can boast a respectable atmosphere, Dead Space operated on a different level. The issue somewhat revolves around the enemies. Everything feels somewhat anonymous. The prison isn’t the Ishimura. It doesn’t even come close to rivaling the spaceship. A potent and distinctive setting like the one in the original Dead Space is absent. I can’t dismiss the developers’ efforts, as it’s still enjoyable and well-crafted, but it’s a shame that the heights of the past aren’t reached.
GAMEPLAY: The mechanics of The Callisto Protocol closely resemble those of Dead Space. At times, it almost feels like the same game, but there are some differences. The most significant pertains to combat. The Callisto Protocol places much more emphasis on close combat (which somewhat dampens the tension). There’s a dodge system that I didn’t mind, and facing multiple mutants simultaneously isn’t an easy feat. Thankfully, there aren’t waves of necromorphs like in Dead Space! There’s also a faint stealth mechanic present. In any case, the gameplay remains consistent with previous experiences.
TECHNICAL ASPECTS: Beyond the generational transition (I played the PS4 version), The Callisto Protocol launched with some issues. I started the game without installing the substantial patch initially, and after about an hour, I decided to wait for the installation and start over due to audio defects and poor action fluidity. The situation improved significantly with the update, but some problems remained, especially related to the audio (the most bothersome being the inconsistent switching between Italian and English dubbing, out-of-sync lip syncing, wildly varying voice volumes, and cut-off sentences) and the textures: either they weren’t loading or they took too long to do so. The lackluster Italian dubbing and a control system that doesn’t always function as it should are also shortcomings. There’s also an issue with trophies, as they don’t synchronize and there’s no way to view the list. Hopefully, they’ll resolve this soon. In essence, Dead Space was technically more solid. However, it should be noted that despite the lows, The Callisto Protocol also reaches remarkable highs.
THE HORROR: More than horror, it’s perhaps better described as splatter. The Callisto Protocol is a splatter game with horror undertones. Although neither experience can frighten me, Dead Space managed to evoke more anxiety (even just with the hordes of necromorphs and their sounds, plus the more distinctive atmosphere). The Callisto Protocol falls somewhat short in comparison. Furthermore, dying occurs too frequently, making some situations more frustrating than scary. The fairly lengthy load times for getting back into the game don’t help. Towards the end, certain choices irritated me, such as repeating the same dual-headed mini-boss four times, which kills you in one hit, and the final battle that seems like it came from a Resident Evil game. I played on medium difficulty, but in two or three instances, it frustrated me more than a game like Bloodborne. Nonetheless, I appreciated the resource management, which should never be squandered, and the upgrade system, which I enjoyed.
AND DEAD SPACE WINS!
The outcome was predictable: Dead Space remains Dead Space and perhaps surpassing it is impossible. With that said, more could have been expected from The Callisto Protocol. Overall, the experience is enjoyable and it exudes a bit of Dead Space‘s essence. Sometimes it’s merely a fart, sometimes a breath, but at other times, it’s a pleasant breeze. The Callisto Protocol struggles with being both the “lesser” copy of its predecessor and the desire to be something new, to possess its own identity, which it achieves only to some extent. Good, but not great.