So I gave up on Dead Space, despite the save system turning out to be somewhat more sophisticated than I had initially thought. It turns out, first of all, that after the second chapter, save points become somewhat more infrequent. Also, the game does do a checkpoint before most major encounters. It just does it invisibly, unlike Call of Duty or Halo. While I’m somewhat ambivalent about this method it’s definitely better than the nothing that I had assumed was in place (as in Far Cry 2). By choosing not to notify the player that they’ve reached the checkpoint, it gives the system the appearance, if not reality, of unreliability. This may actually be a plus for this game in particular, since it adds to the tension. It also avoids breaking the flow of the game, which, given the UI is clearly something the design team was very concerned about overall. On the other hand, it’s a soft-save, and I understand that there are a few encounters where it’ll start you off at inconvenient points, neither of which seem ideal. But it works well enough that, if I had known about it from the start, I probably wouldn’t have complained about it.
Nonetheless, I gave up on the game and sent it back. It was just too disturbing for me (the babies, in particular) and not only was I not having much fun playing, but it was actually keeping me up at night a bit. I made it past the mini-boss at the start of Chapter 4, and after turning the game off, thought about it, and realized I never want to go back to playing it. But props to the art team, and actually, everyone involved in the game. It looks and plays and sounds fantastical. They really elevated what could have been just another corridor shooter. It’s just not the right game for me.