The original Dead Space spends little time establishing Isaac and Nicole’s relationship, but it’s now a critical story beat in Motive’s remake.
One of Dead Space’s deepest narrative letdowns is how little of an emphasis there seems to be in finding Nicole. In fact, while Nicole appears in a self-recorded video log in the game’s opening moments, she is seemingly forgotten about soon thereafter. Isaac, Kendra, and Hammond obviously have their own safety to worry about once they are made aware of the necromorph presence that has subsumed Dead Space’s USG Ishimura, but the player is still meant to believe that Nicole was alive and somewhere on the ship the entire time.
Dead Space’s ending is still exciting, but it lacks the emotional weight or surprise that it could have had if Nicole was a greater presence or a proper priority of Isaac’s while exploring the Ishimura. This is one of the most important improvements that EA Motive makes in the Dead Space remake: giving Nicole’s character much more emphasis and dramatic weight to carry. Because Isaac is able to talk, he expresses his desire to find Nicole, and it is through lore logs that players also get to learn more about Isaac and Nicole’s relationship prior to her being stationed on the Ishimura.
Dead Space Remake Side Quest Lets Players Retrace Nicole’s Steps
Side quests are a great improvement for storytelling purposes because they allow the game to show how much Isaac cares about finding Nicole in Motive’s Dead Space. An entire side quest is dedicated to that endeavor once players reach her office in the Medical wing. Here, players begin retracing Nicole’s steps and see what she had been up to in hologram logs.
If players do not indulge in this side quest they will still have the full experience they had from the original game, but the remake offers this unique quest in order to establish more exposition for Isaac and Nicole. It is here that players see when Nicole learned about Dr. Challus Mercer’s ulterior goals, and it is also an opportunity for the remake to punctuate its new approach to Dead Space‘s level design.
Motive’s Dead Space Reveals Isaac and Nicole’s Relationship Was Strained
There is a moment in Motive’s Dead Space where Isaac hallucinates about a video log being broadcast on several monitors in front of him. This log was a legitimate recording documented between Isaac and Nicole, and showcases what their relationship had been like. Interestingly, the first text log players receive in the Dead Space Remake is a background personnel check on Isaac that debriefs his childhood, the reasons why he aspired to be an engineer, and the relationship he had with his parents, Poul and Octavia.
It is in this log that players may learn Octavia was unwell and looked to Unitology for solace. She would then be admitted to psychiatric care, where Nicole would become her physician and where Isaac would meet her. Players then learn that Nicole had released Octavia from the facility, which ultimately led to Octavia spiraling again and killing her husband and herself.
This led to Isaac’s resentment of Nicole, especially after Nicole had felt like he pressured her to take the Ishimura gig. The six-month gap between when Isaac and Nicole would see one another represents the figurative gap between them, which is an intriguing take that the original game fails to depict. Isaac clearly loves Nicole despite what his previous feelings had emoted, and it is fantastic to see lore about these two in such a well-realized way. Some of this lore is apparent in the original Dead Space trilogy, but it is made succinct here in Motive’s remake.
Dead Space is available now on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.