BOOK REVIEW – The Art of Dead Space by Martin Robinson

By Marty Mulrooney

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The Art of Dead Space by Martin Robinson is a full-colour hardback art book celebrating the Dead Space video game universe. Published by Titan Books to coincide with the release of Dead Space 3, it features over 300 images including original concept art and sketches, many never seen before, with commentary from some of the talented artists who contributed their work.

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The critically acclaimed Dead Space video games are renowned for their dark sci-fi depictions of deep space horror. Part of the effectiveness of each game’s visuals is that the environments and overall design all feel organic and continually evoke the real world around us today. The Art of Dead Space includes artwork from the games Dead Space, Dead Space: Extraction, Dead Space: Ignition, Dead Space 2 and Dead Space 3, along with concept art from the graphic novels Dead Space: Salvage and Dead Space: Liberation.

Award-winning journalist and features editor at Eurogamer Martin Robinson has done a fantastic job of putting The Art of Dead Space together. Rather than separating each section of the book by individual game, chapters flow naturally backwards and forwards through the series timeline, with sections covering the design of main character Isaac Clarke, the USG Ishimura, machinery and tools (weapons!), The Marker, the Necromorphs, The Sprawl, ‘Dead Moon Rising’ and the graphic novels.

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The artwork is glorious and regardless of your stance on the games themselves, it’s undeniable that the Dead Space universe is a horrifically beautiful place to be. From the Necromorph-infested USG Ishimura with its mechanically humming dark corridors and unspeakable horrors (undoubtedly playing homage to Ridley Scott’s Alien), to the frozen tundras of the planet Tau Volantis with its perpetual blizzards and uninhabitable conditions (blatantly paying homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing), each game in the main series has been a visual titan and now we know why – the artwork upon which it is all based is truly stunning.

Text accompanies some of the images providing commentary from key artists, but sadly none of the artwork is ever attributed directly, nor are biographies of those involved ever offered. It isn’t a deal breaker, but the coherence of the artwork throughout is actually so consistent that you could almost be tricked into believing that it was all the hard work of one or two individuals – additional information on the talented people involved would have been more than welcome. Also, the artwork of the environments and Isaac Clarke himself are where the book is undeniably strongest – some of the weapon and enemy artwork can feel a little bit dry and, apart from some dropped early designs for Issac, you won’t find any major surprises that didn’t make it into the finished games (although there are some pretty big spoilers for Dead Space 3).

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Presented as a large, glossy-paged book with a gorgeous matt finish dust jacket, The Art of Dead Space is a beautiful collection of imagery taken from the Dead Space universe that often evokes the artwork of legendary British science fiction artist Chris Foss – high praise indeed. Isaac Clarke has grown to become an iconic video game character and a lot of that is down to his strong design – in the first game he didn’t even speak! Fans of Dead Space and video game artwork should definitely check out this book: it’s 192 pages of memorable images with only a few let-downs along the way.

9 OUT OF 10

AMO_alternative-offerings
BOOK REVIEW – Dead Space by Antony Johnston and Ben Templesmith (Graphic Novel)
BOOK REVIEW – Dead Space: Salvage by Anthony Johnson and Christopher Shy (Graphic Novel)
BOOK REVIEW – Dead Space: Liberation by Ian Edginton and Christopher Shy (Graphic Novel)
GAME REVIEW – Dead Space 2: Limited Edition (PlayStation 3)
BOOK REVIEW – Dead Space: Martyr by B.K. Evenson
BOOK REVIEW – Dead Space: Catalyst by B.K. Evenson
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Sonita Henry (Ellie Langford, Dead Space 2)

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