Dead Space: Ignition is a little downloadable title that bridges the gap between the first Dead Space and the upcoming sequel. I’m going to spoil it for you right now, but don’t worry. In this case it’s not that big of a deal.
Ignition follows a technician (his name eludes me) on The Sprawl, a massive space station/city. Naturally there are monsters all of a sudden and the story follows him around as he tries to survive. Spoiler time: by the end he goes crazy or something and finds Isaac (protagonist of the main Dead Space games) frozen in carbonite or stasis or what-have-you. He then proceeds to free Isaac and that’s where Ignition ends.
The problem here is that this isn’t really a story that needed to be told. We still don’t know how Isaac ended up frozen on The Sprawl (something that I’m sure is addressed in Dead Space 2). I honestly think that the sequel would have been more interesting if we didn’t know how Isaac had been freed. Besides, other than Isaac being freed, nothing ever happens during Ignition. The characters wander around the city doing nothing and are entirely forgettable.
So does Ignition actually have any gameplay? Kind of. It’s just three hacking minigames that get progressively harder. The first one is essentially a race through a circuit board where you’re a little spark and you have to beat the other little sparks. It starts out somewhat fun but as it gets more complex it just becomes frustrating.
The second hacking minigame is similar to the popular “defend your castle” style of games, only this time you’re attacking the castle. The idea is to get all your little viruses past all the little anti-viruses and into the goal at the opposite side of the board. This could have been interesting, but it never really gets hard. You can beat every single one of these by just spamming the basic virus that shoots stuff.
Finally, there’s another hacking minigame that’s much more puzzle-oriented. It’s like Pipe Dream, only instead of pipes you’re trying to direct colored lasers into their respective ports. I actually enjoyed this one and the difficulty curve as it goes on makes it much more challenging and rewarding.
That’s all Dead Space: Ignition is: a throwaway story and three hacking minigames looped over and over. There are things like branching paths, but the ending is always the same. Also, the comic book style of the cutscenes is really jarring when you see people talking yet their faces aren’t moving. I should mention that Ignition is completely free if you preorder Dead Space 2, and that’s fine. The laser minigame alone is at least fun enough to try. However, the story won’t quench your thirst for Dead Space lore or anything. If you decide not to preorder Dead Space 2, I recommend you avoid spending money on this.