The lights drop out. In utter blackness, all to be heard is your nervous, erratic breathing. A vent behind you starts to squeak violently, and someone begins choking…or laughing…in the distant end of the hall. Panicking, you find the nearest exit and run for it, the guttural noises following suit.
This is one situation of many in EA’s new DEAD SPACE 2 where the feeling of dread comes not from standing toe to toe with a grotesque alien goliath, but from the sounds that imply he’s just around the corner. The design is spot-on, creating tension at just the right moments to scare the socks off anyone brave enough to play the game in the dark, with nobody else around.
It’s not just the amazing sound crafting, either. The soundtrack, akin to many Stanley Kubrick films, keeps your mind pacing and questioning just about everything you come across. Industrious bells, bowed strings, deep percussion, all combined in beautiful dissonance. The music accompanies the scares more than you think, stopping at just the right moments to hear a cry for help, or an alarm clock abruptly sounding in the room next to you. Berklee even invited the game’s composer; Jason Graves, to come speak to students about creating atmosphere and tension in music.
On top of an already stellar game, the sound and music quality brings a whole new level of enjoyment to the experience. I would recommend picking it up to anyone who owns an XBOX 360 or PS3. Not a console fan? There’s a touch version for the iPad that is also amazing, with a lot of the same sound work heard in DEAD SPACE and DEAD SPACE 2.