Dead Space 2 is making my life hell, like the title says. 

I felt tense last night. Long day. Too much writing for my job. Got some bad news. Wasn't happy. 

"I'll relax with some video games," I thought.

Then I remembered that the only big game loaded on my PC is Dead Space 2.

After playing and enjoying the first game years ago, I finally got around to trying the 2011 sequel over Christmas break.

Dead Space freaks me out. You wander the halls of a space station swarming with homicidal aliens hell-bent on ripping you limb from limb. They jump out at you from the walls, the floor, and ventilation shafts. The aliens (called necromorphs) have a knack for attacking from unexpected places. 

One time I was walking toward an elevator and saw a dead necromorph in front of the door. "That's odd," I thought. "I don't remember killing something right there." 

At that moment the necromorph leapt to its feet (displaying admirable coordination for a reanimated corpse) and let loose a terrifying screech. I jumped in my chair, shouted a four-letter word, and shot it in the chest with my spear gun. A quick button press roasted my new friend with electricity from the bolt. 

This kind of thing happens all the time in Dead Space, and it's not even the worst part. The worst part is waiting for the necromorphs to jump out. 

Walk into a room. Listen to the low hum of machines. Quickly sweep the room. Nobody in sight. Walk slowly across open area. Nothing yet. Sudden hissing noise. Jerk aim right. Just a busted pipe. Keep going. Still nothing.

Developer Visceral Games did a wonderful job with this game's atmosphere. Wandering the abandoned halls slowly builds tension until you can't take it. Then the necromorphs attack. 

Which brings me back to my original point. Playing Dead Space 2 baffles me, because it barely resembles fun. The game makes me tense up, jump, and swear in frustration. While it's not incredibly scary, it does freak me out. 

How is that fun?

It shouldn't be. Games should help us relax, and there's nothing relaxing about Dead Space. And yet I here I stand, seven hours into the campaign. I knew exactly what the game would be like after playing Dead Space 1. So why play it?

Dead Space 2 transcends its unpleasant aftereffects by its compelling atmosphere. I'm fascinated by the wreckage, the setting, the survivors, the monsters, and the violence. The game pulls you into its world and keeps an iron grip. I keep playing because I want to see where Isaac goes next. 

Everything works together to form this twisted alternate universe that demands your attention by its madness. The exact things which should repulse its audience are what attract it. Without everything scary about Dead Space, the franchise would offer only mildly creative gameplay about shooting people's limbs off. 

That's weird, isn't it? The things stress out people (myself included) are what draw us to Dead Space at all. We like it. I don't know why that is. 

Do you play Dead Space? Horror games? If so, why? Seriously, I'm curious about others' reasons for putting ourselves through this stress.

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