In recent years, the number of remakes being released/in development at game studios around the world has seriously increased. Before this, remasters were a fad, but today’s industry is all about taking an older product and rebuilding it from the ground up to meet modern technology and standards. When this trend started, it was quite an interesting change of pace because it gave fans a way to relive iconic past experiences as if they were brand new episodes, but jump to 2023 and remakes seem to be absolutely everywhere and popping up in all sorts of weird and unexpected franchises.
Next on the cards is Dead Space Remake, an admittedly (from what I’ve seen at preview events) impressive improvement to an already fantastic survival horror title. Between the improved graphics and visuals, terrifying audio profiles and a new Ishimura ship layout that is seamless and no longer split between individual levels, there are many reasons to be excited. That said, I’m still not completely sold on the whole idea of remakes – and by extension, remasters.
I understand the reason for remakes these days. Unlike movies and series where content tends to transcend time and remain accessible for years, even decades, after its original release, games are usually limited by their hardware, which is generally harder to get for older platforms as the years progress. And this often means that some of the games we celebrate for their brilliance are inaccessible or challenging to play in today’s climate. Hence the wave of remasters and remakes that brought older games to modern systems. Still, this doesn’t stop me from feeling a little less excited when I see a remake announcement pop up.
And this is due to the fact that games often don’t wait that long before being remade. A movie can take decades (unless you’re Disney), and often when a movie is remade, it’s a slightly different adaptation of the source material, giving it enough of a unique twist that it stands on its own and still allows the original to shine. Take the countless versions of A Star Is Born as an example of this. Games on the other hand tend to be as close to the original product as possible to serve up the best degree of authenticity. However, there are remakes in the gaming space that arrive in such short order that you still have a very clear image of the original in your mind, so much so that you begin to wonder why a remake is necessary at all. The Last of Us: Part I is a good example of this.
Now it feels like there’s a plethora of reasons why Naughty Dog decided to revisit their iconic action-adventure game and give it a new, very shiny, coat of paint, with that having to do with having a better engine at their disposal, to the PC edition debuting soon, and even the HBO show that’s on the way. None of these reasons, however, is to resell a game you can pick up for a fifth of its current remake price. Especially since the game is still basically the same as what fans have experienced several times before upon release and then upon the launch of the remaster.
However, I will give Naughty Dog credit for delivering a game that really looks and feels modern in all places, which is not always the case for remakes elsewhere in the industry. Take the Destroy All Humans remakes as an example. Original titles can be hard to get your mitts on these days, so the idea of a remake was a welcome one, but what we got was a game from the 2000s that had simply had a graphics and performance overhaul and very little else. The mission formula and small open world levels felt very dated and mundane, and it all made for an experience that made me wish the developers would not remake a title, but instead reboot a franchise.
And this brings me to the point of this rant. I think it’s time for developers to take some risks with their older IPs. Let’s let these older games exist in history as iconic and brilliant memories, and then reimagine the intellectual property as something new, giving fans a new way to re-experience the concepts that made me and no doubt countless others fall in love with gaming when we were younger. The Destroy All Humans series would have been an excellent contender for this idea, and why not Dead Space as well? Don’t get me wrong, certain titles would not fit into this picture, at least not for another few years, with The Last of Us in that same category because of its ongoing and currently growing story, but for these older franchises that have largely been dead or dormant, a reboot seems like a much more exciting concept than a predictable remake.
One of my favorite game series from the 2010s was Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider titles, because we could experience a collection of action-packed and exciting adventures with the famous and domestic icon Lara Croft, except this was not an adventure we had experienced before, no, this was rather something fresh and fun, and to me this is a great example of what reboots can be if treated with care and pride. So why not lean on this? Let’s stop being a gaming community that judges so directly when a title is not adapted in exactly the same way as what we already remember and let’s start encouraging new experiences with the franchises we all know and love. It may surprise you.