Dead Space (series)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Isaac Clarke is not having a good day.

Dead Space is a franchise based primarily in Survival Horror Third-Person Shooter video games, developed by Visceral Games (formerly EA Redwood Shores). The series takes place in the future, where humanity has colonized space, telekinesis and the ability to slow down objects are commonplace due to portable, wrist-mounted devices, and resource gathering is carried out with massive starships that break apart entire planets.

The crux of the series are the Necromorphs, dead bodies that have been mutated into monsters by an unknown alien virus that seek out and kill everyone (usually in horrific and gruesome ways), creating more Necromorphs. Every story involves a Necromorph outbreak in a closed environment, and the people who try to survive it. Either the survivors are there during the outbreak or show up after the place has gone to Hell.

Other important points of the series include the Church of Unitology, the dominant religion in the galaxy, who believe that the Necromorphs are a step in their dogma towards something called “Convergence”; the re-purposing of power tools into weapons to fight off Necromorphs; the necessity of shooting An Arm and a Leg off the Necromorphs in order to kill them; and people wearing Life Meters on their backs.

The two main games in the series are:

  • Dead Space - The first game in the series, released in 2008 for the PC, Play Station 3, and Xbox 360. Isaac Clarke is an engineer who has been hired to help repair the USG Ishimura, a planet cracker class starship hovering over Aegis VII that sent out a distress signal. Unfortunately the shuttle Clarke is traveling on is damaged, the team he is with is attacked by Necromorphs that have infested the ship, and he gets separated from the rest of the team, necessitating the repair of several areas of the ship to reunite and find a way off. Isaac has a personal stake in fixing the Ishimura; his girlfriend Nicole Brennan is somewhere on the ship and Isaac has to rescue her.
  • Dead Space 2 - The second game in the series, released in 2011 for the PC, Play Station 3, and Xbox 360. Three years after the events of Dead Space, Isaac Clarke finds himself on a massive mining station known as Titan Station (nicknamed The Sprawl) with no memory of how he got there. Another Necromorph outbreak is occurring, and Isaac finds out that he is indirectly responsible for it this time. Isaac decides to go to the source of the Necromorphs and stop them, but is impeded by the head of the Sprawl, Hans Tiedemann, and his own trauma-induced hallucinations.
    • Dead Space 2: Severed - A DLC released in March, that follows Gabe Weller, one of the main characters of Dead Space: Extraction, as he tries to get himself and his wife off of the Sprawl during the outbreak.
  • Dead Space 3 was announced in E3 2012. Isaac is trapped on a frozen and snowy planet where another Necromorph invasion has occurred due to EarthGov finding "the source", according to Ellie. He is a fugitive wanted by EarthGov and the Unitologists and is still not entirely stable, having developed a sarcastic split personality known as "Shadow Isaac", and lost sight of Ellie in the crash on the new planet. This will be the first game to introduce co-op, where if a player chooses to play in Co-op mode, the game's narrative changes to allow for a second person to join Isaac on his journey, an EarthGov Sergeant named John Carver. The game is set to be released in February 2013.

In addition there have been couple of spinoff games covering events before and after the main games:

  • Dead Space: Extraction - A Rail Shooter released for the Nintendo Wii in 2009 and packaged with the Play Station 3 version of Dead Space 2. The game follows Nathan McNeill, Gabe Weller, Lexine Murdoch, and Warren Eckhardt as they try to escape from Aegis VII to the Ishimura as Necromorphs infest the colony, only to find the Ishimura is not better off. It is a Prequel to Dead Space.
  • Dead Space - (Also known as Dead Space: iOS and Dead Space: Mobile) A Prequel to Dead Space 2 released for iOS systems, this game follow a Unitologist agent named Vandal who first sabotages Titan Station, then tries to escape when the Necromorphs start to appear. Because of the same name, tropes for it are kept on the regular Dead Space page.
  • Dead Space Ignition - A downloadable game for Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade released in 2010. It is a Prequel to Dead Space 2. A police officer named Sarah and and an engineer named Franco Delile are on the Sprawl when the Necromorphs attack. Sarah wants to escape, but Franco has his own agenda. The story is told in a motion comic format with Choose Your Own Adventure options, though the ending is always the same. The actual game is three Hacking Minigames that represent Franco hacking various parts of the Sprawl.

Since the release of the original game there have been several other side stories covered in different media:

  • Dead Space: Martyr - A Prequel novel, chronologically it is the earliest story in the Dead Space universe. The book focuses on Michael Altman, the head figure of Unitology, and his discovery of the Black Marker in the Gulf of Mexico. As he and other scientists try to figure what the Marker is, everyone starts going insane, and eventually Necromorphs appear and attack the laboratory they are working out of.
  • Dead Space - A Comic Book that takes place before the events of Dead Space. On Aegis VII a Red Marker is discovered during a mining operation. As a duplicate of Unitologists sacred Black Marker, plans are made to move the Marker on board the Ishimura. But as the Red Marker is moved on board the Ishimura, everyone starts going insane, and eventually Necromorphs appear and attack the colony. The comics focuses primarily on Abraham Neumann, who is anti-Unitologist, and Marla Jansenn who is a Unitologist, as they try to escape Aegis VII. The comic was released retail, and can be unlocked on the Nintendo Wii version of Dead Space: Extraction.
  • Dead Space: Downfall - A Direct-to-Video Prequel, taking place before Extraction and Dead Space. The Red Marker is brought on the Ishimura, causing a stir; Unitologists want to worship it while scientists want to study it. Tensions start to mount and soon everyone starts going insane, and eventually Necromorphs appear and attack everyone on board. The second half of the movie is about security officer Alissa Vincent and her Five-Man Band as they try to escape the Ishimura.
  • Dead Space: Aftermath - A second Direct-to-Video movie, this time an Interquel between Dead Space and Dead Space 2. The survivors of the USG O'Bannon are brought on board USM Abraxis and interrogated about what happened on their ship. Most of the movie is told in flashback, as the surviving crewmembers relate how their ship was assigned the mission of bringing back a shard of the Red Marker Isaac Clarke blew up in the first game. Even before the shard is moved to the O'Bannon everyone starts going insane, and Necromorphs appear and kill everyone on the O'Bannon, and the rest of the movie is how the survivors: Nickolas Kuttner, Alejandro Borges, Nolan Stross, and Isabella Cho, lasted long enough.
  • Dead Space: Salvage - A Sequel Comic Book to Dead Space. Miners discover the remains of the Ishimura out in space and decide to sell it, but get in trouble when they discover shards of the Red Marker, and have to deal with new Necromorphs and government agents that also want the ship.

Although only three main games (one of them being a prequel with a vastly differing game style) and, two side games, and some other media have been released so far, Dead Space is quickly becoming a premier Survival Horror franchise, with widespread critical acclaim, strong sales, and many fans considering it the best since Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Dead Space (series) franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Markers, all of them. They are sentient and cause people to hallucinate their loved ones, hurt themselves, write strange writing on the walls in anything they can, kill themselves, and somehow make Necromorphs appear.
    • Note that the Red and Black markers only show horrific visions as a form of communication, and mostly try to prevent Necromorph outbreaks; it's stated a few times that one needs a high level of intelligence to properly interpret the visions and not go insane. The Golden Marker, on the other hand, seems actively malevolent. The visions of Nicole that it shows Isaac taunt, lie to and manipulate him, and want him to kill himself in the end. The Golden Marker seems built to begin Necromorph outbreaks and trigger Convergence events, unlike the others, which work to prevent them.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Pretty much what sums up Unitologist faith in a nutshell. Many of its advocates are so horrifically plagued with logic conflicts, rectal cranial inversion and misinterpretations of their own faith, which is already a terribly discombobulated mess built on a rats nest of endless secrecies and lies as it stands. Many of the more radically stupid dumbfoundedly relenting themselves onto the Necromorph plague despite having everything they've ever believed in disastrously upended by the revelation of what The Marker and its vaunted Convergence really entails.
    • The jackbooted militant EarthGov aren't that different in such thinking either. For more details, see Humans Are Morons below; for cliff notes. The Sovereign Colonies Armed Forces stationed on Tau Volantus, then believed to be source of the Markers, were only stationed there to essentially murder everybody within facilities on orders from their own parliament. Even executing themselves upon completion of their missions. Did we mention they are compelled to do so whilst scrubbing any useful information that'll prevent the zombie apocalypse in the far future???
  • Bittersweet Ending: How some stories end if the protagonists are lucky. Usually they will accomplish some goal before getting ripped to shreds.
  • Blatant Item Placement: Enemies will often drop health when the main character is about to die, and often drop the right ammo needed for whatever weapons are being carried.
  • Body Horror: And how! Horrifically mutilated and contorted corpses trying to tear you to pieces? Yep. Horrific death scenes? Yep. Peng? Yep.
    • In order to get inspiration for the Necromorphs, the design team studied photographs of car accident victims. That somehow makes both the Necromorphs, and the design team, a hell of a lot creepier.
  • Captain Ersatz: The church of Unitology bears absolutely, positively no resemblance to the church of Scientology. Please don't sue us.
  • Church of Happyology: Unitology, obviously.
  • Crapsack World: Even without the Necromorphs, mankind in the Dead Space-verse is pretty banged up: Unitology is the dominant religion of dubious moral values, bureaucrats tend to use employees as tools in far worse ways than in Real Life, and safety regulations are lacking. The sad story of Howard, the caretaker of the Sprawl's solar arrays is example enough.
    • There is evidence that humanity itself is circling the drain. Planetcracking came as a saving grace at a time when and after conflict had broken out due to economic collapse and subsequent extinction over resource starvation were very close at hand. Furthermore, that solution isn't sustainable, and humanity is still limping on its way towards disaster in no small part due to their own handiwork. In many ways, the horrifically unethical experiments that EarthGov has repeatedly performed on Marker affected subjects are the only hope humanity has of long-term survival.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Averted half the time. While Necromorphs do attack in the dark, and it is scary, they also attack in the light, which is also scary.
  • Dialog During Gameplay: Thanks to the RIG, Isaac can maintain conversations with his Mission Control, either on video or audio.
  • Downer Ending: Most stories in this series end this way.
  • Earn Your Bittersweet Ending: When you are around a Necromorph outbreak, this is the best you can hope for.
    • Given that Dead Space 1 ends with Isaac either being attacked and killed, or having gone completely insane, the end of Dead Space 2 featuring him escaping the Sprawl on a ship being piloted by an actual trained pilot, and most likely safely getting back to civilization with the Markers destroyed, you'd almost consider this a straight up Earn Your Happy Ending. Then you remember the thousands of men, women, children and babies you had to dismember after they were horribly killed and turned into monsters. Even if Isaac never sees a Necromorph again, he'll probably never have another good nights sleep without heavy medication.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Unitologists are derisively called Marker-heads.
  • Grid Inventory: Present in Dead Space and Dead Space 2.
  • Gorn: Oh my yes. Necromorphs don't just claw or bite or asphyxiate their victims; they stab them through the abdomen before hacking them to pieces, rip prey's heads off to replace it with their own disembodied cranium's, squirm down your throat and mangle your insides before turning you undead, etc.
  • Holographic Terminal: Both regular ones for starships, and personal ones for backpacks.
  • H.P. Lovecraft: One of the major influences of the series, according to Word of God.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Mankind already had one foot in the grave well before the Artifact of Death came into play, and by its own actions no less. Yet they made things worse for themselves by playing around with something that has no real positive utilities to it in the first place. The worst of the lot continuing to do so despite its only end result begetting endless carnage & dread. More reviled individuals based an entire false faith around one person who discovered just how horrifically dangerous these signets well and truly are two centuries hence. Killing him and using his name to martyr a faulty cause he wanted no part of. As if to highlight just how clubfootedly hypocritical most people ruling over they're fellow man are, one of their more despicable political faces admitted the countless lives lost for the sake of a messed up experiment was worth the price paid for, in his warped worldview, preserving the species.
  • Humans Are Insane: Given all the horrors seen across the odyssey of three games (and adjacent DLCs), comic book content, some print literature coupling in a host of spin-off material. One would think it best our hero; Isaac Clarke, amongst others, is better off sticking to slaughtering and/or eviscerating undead terrors than ever trying to buddy up with other still living human beings throughout the full story. Especially given that a great many of what little survivors of a plague of Necromorphs remain tend to be (A) not long for this world as the few good, actually stable people either end up dead by their wounds or are viscerally butchered by the undead monstrosities in full viewing glory, (B) poor unfortunate souls found still living beforehand turned mad (many of whom being Driven to Suicide as a consequence) by the either the Marker's effect or the horrors they were beholden to, (C) all a bunch of ignorant or self-righteous slimemolds whom claim to act on the behalf of all humanity or are simply no account good for nothings who think they know better when they really don't. I.e. self serving sociopaths like in EarthGov relating to Kendra Daniels, the movement built on delusionality of Unitology pertaining to Challus Mercer or Daina, radicalistic omnicidal suicide fascists in The Circle which consists of Danik and his zealots. Needless to say, there isn't much stock to be placed in general psyche balance regarding characters within the franchise's setting.
  • Humans Are Morons: When it all boils down to it, the people portrayed in Dead Space are at least fifty thousand shades of catastrophically incompetent. From most agents as well as citizens within EarthGov to scientists on the Ishimura, on top of both tame and more fanatical numbers of the Unitology death cult in its entirety. There is no shortage in the deficit of congenially smart human beings who go fiddling with Marker's, when all other resources have been exhausted by they're own excesses, the few who claim to know better have a nasty habit of killing off their own faction workers in droves for a pointless pursuit of the deathly McGuffin which any sensible individual can see is the main cause of the dead rising from grave as reanimated monstrosities.
    • Case in point, 200yrs ago one of the leading generals of EarthGov's military division stationed on Tau Volantis literally killed the only real hope of preempting the nightmare that they all came across while digging up what they mistakenly believed to be the archeological find of the century from reaching their home world. On orders from their own commanding power no less. Practically murdering a means of stopping a necromorph infestation from coming to earth in its crib.
    • The whole mythos surrounding how the Unitologist faith came to be in the beginning is built on a whole mess of convolution backed endless secrets & lies. When the supposed founder of their movement started becoming more and more perturbed by what it was they found. Members of the spelunking unit he discovered it with ended up killing him and turning the guy into a martyr to enforce a false belief in what boils down to being self disposing sacrilegious joke. One that becomes so twisted, contradictory and disastrously self-harm influenced that its very existence stands against all it was mistakenly built upon to begin with. Some of the more psychopathically pot-meet-kettle type members of the church blaming their own kind for the mess of the necromorphs due to human hands tampering with their holy object. Despite their constructing replicas of which begat these mutant zombie atrocities popping up in the first place.
    • Even the ruling power of humanist space colonization itself can take a bit of stick here too, given how at best they are self-betraying sadomasochists whose members are a bunch of illogically warped halfwits whom refuse to put two & two together when it comes to the Markers and the Necromorphs. At worst, they're more than willing to sacrifice hundreds, if not thousands of their own to probe the doomsday devices secret despite being fully aware of just how cataclysmic the proportions of messing around with those things well & truly tends to be. Not even being above casting individual survivors of they're failed attempts at monopolizing said apparati without losing countless lives to its hazardous functionality as criminals to compensate their individual species killing mediocrity.
    • As if to capstone it all, is the fact that despite knowing just how calamitous a mistake it is to go messing with the Markers. The earth monkeys in charge left themselves with next to no viable resources when the truly reviled bits of human nature essentially left their fellow man with little to no alternative options. They continue to keep trying to exploit the marker while arrogantly believing they can mitigate its more apocalyptic inducing tendencies for the benefit of all; i.e. themselves. Talk about digging yourself deeper.
  • Humans Are The Real Monsters: It's even lampshaded by resident lunatic, Nolan Stross, and events between the films as well as DLC gaming content doesn't do much to dissuade this pointed opinion. Despite knowing full well the dangers of the Marker and what all its ill effects can and will do to people no matter what kind of contact with it is made; indirect or otherwise. EarthGov still labors under the delusion that they can tame and further bastardize its effects for their own entirely selfish gain. Not for the sake of saving their race like all the calamitously hypocritical say they're doing this for, especially given how many lives they've willingly toss to the meatgrinder for their sickening expeditions in exploitation. From Kendra Daniels pre-remake to the interrogator & overseer out of Aftermath, the sickening actions the still living visit upon their fellow human beings is just as atrocious as what the Necromorphs do in order to facilitate their own unalive cycles so as to create a Brother Moon. Just monstrosities caked atop of monstrosities.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: What said aforementioned Marker madness and the all consumingly entirety of selfish machinations pertaining to the varying vying factions in Dead Space boils down too. With or without personally interacting with that daemon relic, not to mention all the undead insanity it brings with it. Only goes to show the haphazardously self-destructive tendencies of just about every character appearing on scene in series whom only show to know how to toss themselves off a slippery slope and into a trash compactor for their own warped, morally bankrupted delusions and personal gain. EarthGov is most guilty of this, seeing as they are all too willing to lie, cover-up, extort and defame each other for the sake of what they think will save and/or uplift the human race.
  • Latex Space Suit: Not Isaac's suit, which is bulky as befitting his position as an engineer, but casual ones are shown to be skin-tight.
  • Life Meter: The R.I.G. has a spine-mounted life meter, which is actually in-universe and not just a convenience for the player. All adults wear them.
  • Mundane Utility: The Dead Space universe used high-tech plasma cutters as the equivalent of a pickaxe, as well as all the other incredibly powerful (by modern standards) tools and tech being used in a casual manner.
  • No Hero Discount: While the stores are all automated, this doesn't answer the question of why Isaac doesn't just hack all the stores to get items for free. Given that Isaac is shown to be capable of some very impressive rewiring tricks, and how vital items are to your success (items that have no limit for purchase at a single store, and the games RPG Elements come in the form of Power Nodes that can be bought in stores) there's no reason why Isaac never even tries to go for the five fingered discount.
  • One-Way Visor: Most helmets.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Not actual ghosts, but the Marker is capable of making people hallucinate dead loved ones, and only dead ones.
  • Planet Looters: Humanity. We need natural resources, having depleted all of Earth's, and go out breaking down random planets in space to get them; only a matter of time before we pick up an unexpected guest along with our resources. And the first crack is one of Saturn's moons, which is where the sequel takes place.
    • The background logs state that Planet Cracking is actually believed by some to destabilize entire star systems because of the gravity imbalance of one planet going missing all of a sudden. The CEC denies this, though, and states that the planets are always carefully chosen.
    • Digging at Aegis VII was prohibited in the first place, but the CEC broke the laws because the planet was abnormally mineral-rich. Now, had EarthGov placed their Red Marker on a resource-barren moon somewhere, things might have turned out differently.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some complain that the chance of almost all of Isaac's weapons be re-purposed tools strains credibility. For example, why would a tool called the "Plasma Cutter" shoot out a single, non-continuous burst? Then you remember that Dynamite was originally intended for peaceful purposes by inventor Alfred Nobel, and was used for war. Not to mention the real life section of Improbable Weapon User.
  • Redshirt Army: Kinda necessary to increase the Necromorph bunch.
    • Special mention has to be given to the army platoon in Dead Space that is taken out by a single Necromorph.
  • Religion Is Right: Unitology, strictly speaking, is completely honest in its claims. They just happen to be a little vague about/ignorant of the specifics.
  • Starfish Language: The Markers communicate by showing you visions of your dead loved ones in various conditions.
  • Superpowered Mooks: Mysterious covert operatives referred to as Oracles appear in Salvage and Dead Space 2: Severed. It's unclear whether they work for the Unitologists or Earthgov, but they exhibit Jedi powers and imply that they're top-level spec ops agents sent to deal with the highest level covert incidents, such as Necromorph outbreaks.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: A common problem the Marker causes is to make people think they see their dead loved ones and think they are real.
  • Used Future