Dead Space (video game)

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Dead Space is a video game released for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is the first game in the Dead Space series.

The game takes place in the Ishimura, a spaceship of the Planet Cracker class, a series of ships which find mineral-rich planets and literally lift whole chunks of them into space for mining. During a mining excavation on a faraway planet, the miners discover a strange artifact of apparently alien origin. The artifact, dubbed the Marker, was apparently causing problems amongst the colonists who were working on the surface of the planet. Eventually, it's decided to transport the Marker to the Ishimura. It did not end well.

Luckily (or not), a Distress Call managed to get sent, and a crew of (two) Space Marines, led by Sergeant Zach Hammond, is sent to investigate. Along with him are two engineers, tasked with helping repair any damage done to the Ishimura that might have caused the distress call: systems engineer Kendra Daniels and mechanical/electronic engineer Isaac Clarke. Clarke also has a personal reason for undertaking the mission: his girlfriend Nicole is part of the Ishimura's crew, and he fears for her safety.

What they find is the ostensive definition of Hell on Earth (or rather, In Space!'): the crew of the ship has been annihilated by a series of creatures (dubbed Necromorphs by the Ishimuras scientists) who have the ability to infect dead tissue to raise their numbers. This results in zombie-like mutated monsters infesting the entire ship. Even worse is that there is apparently a cult called the Unitologists, who believe that the Marker is actually of divine origin. The name of the game is now not rescue, but survival: Isaac and the rest of the rescue team must now find a way off the ship. Using his engineering skills and whatever hastily-weaponized power tools he can find, Isaac must help his fellow survivors escape this hellish situation... if he doesn't crack first.

Gameplay wise, Dead Space shares a lot of similarities Resident Evil 4. There is one button to aim and one button to fire; ammo, health, audio logs and money are found scattered about the Ishimura, but are in limited supply, so the player has to ration everything accordingly (though Isaac will almost always manage to find health on corpses when he really needs it), and there is a store where Isaac can buy ammo, new weapons, upgrades for his weapons, and upgrades for his suit, and store extra items cluttering up his inventory.

An interesting gameplay variation is that Necromorphs cannot be killed with head or body shots. Instead, Isaac has to shoot the limbs off of Necromorphs to "kill" them. And since the Necromorphs come in many different shapes, quite a bit of strategy is required. Isaac also has a Stasis module which can slow enemies down to the point of looking frozen, and levitate objects to solve puzzles.

In 2011, Iron Monkey Studios released a game for the iPhone and iPad also called Dead Space. It takes place in the same universe, but has more to do with Dead Space 2 than Dead Space.


Please Note: This game has a separate page for the sequel Dead Space 2. Please add game-appropriate tropes to the correct page.


Tropes used in Dead Space (video game) include:
  • Abandoned Hospital: Isaac must travel to the Medical Deck twice during the course of gameplay for different reasons. There's plenty of gore, as well as some cryogenically-frozen Necromorphs.
  • Absent Aliens: In the backstory, at least. Most of humankind believes this, seeing how they've spread into the galaxy and found absolutely nothing. Oh, how wrong they were!
  • Action Commands: Mash "A" to escape enemies' clutches (or "X" or "E"...). Hard to tell if it is actually doing something unless you succeed in pushing the crazed creature away before it kills you.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Various things in the game show evidence of Doctor Mercer's madness.
  • Alternate Reality Game: No Known Survivors.
  • An Economy Is You: Semi-justified. The items available at the stores on board the Ishimura: futuristic power tools[1], ammunition for futuristic power tools, safety equipment suitable for using futuristic power tools, repair/upgrade supplies suitable for futuristic power tools, futuristic first aid supplies (which you would most likely need if you regularly use futuristic power tools) are things you would expect from vending machines on board a futuristic mining ship, and just happen to be quite useful for surviving a Zombie Apocalypse. But it would have been more realistic for them to offer food, drinks and toiletries as well.
  • Another Man's Terror: You encounter a dying man who fought his way through the ship. He gives you a note and then dies. You have to finish what he started, scary beasts chasing you and all.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Much of the story is told through logs left by the crew, but you learn most through the logs left by Acting Chief Engineer Jacob Temple and Doctor Elizabeth Cross, God rest their souls.
    • The opening transmission from Nicole is also an apocalyptic log, although you don't learn that until the end.
  • Arc Words: "Make us whole again."
  • Artifact of Doom: The Marker.
  • Artificial Gravity: It's an actual gameplay feature; more so when it's not available.
  • Artificial Limbs: Of a decidedly morally gray variety. You visit a body part cloning farm at one point.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Due to some rather loose scripting, it's possible to make Necromorphs jump in and out of vents endlessly, force The Hunter to kill itself, and make Brutes totally ignore you, among other things.
  • Artistic License Chemistry: Isaac's use of a 'thermite bomb' to destroy a metal barricade. Thermite used in this fashion would burn through the bottom of the containing vessel and flow down the outer surface of the blockage; unless it was pressurized to the point the apparatus resembled a liquid jet cutter, it wouldn't penetrate a vertical surface to any useful depth. There's a whole slew of things wrong with the scene in question; the door is vaporized while Isaac standing right next to the phenomenon takes no damage, Isaac's guns are supposed to be cutting tools but the level is built around making a cutting tool... And it doesn't make sense to keep welding equipment in a medical office, it's like keeping stacks of bricks and mortar in an operating theatre.
  • The Asteroid Thicket: The chunks of rock that Isaac must deal with in one chapter come from the planet the Ishimura is orbiting, having been thrown up when they tore the first chunk of of the planet from the surface.
  • As You Know: Your Gravity Boots will keep you stable in zero-G environments.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Required to kill almost every enemy you encounter, except for Dividers and Swarmers.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Inverted. For the most part, the artificial intelligence of the ship is the only thing functioning properly and not attempting to deliberately kill you. Though sometimes one has to wonder, what with all the Quarantine Lockdowns that trap you with a mob of Necromorphs, and how smug she sounded after that stunt with the tomato plant in Hydroponics...
    • The only real human-built AI, named "CECL", only officially appears in the Alternate Reality Game "No Known Survivors" (though one of the recurring whispers you hear in the main Dead Space game is a recording of some of the things she says). CECL is a "Litigious Risk Computer" which can be consulted for survival/accident odds, or dating advice odds, and is even capable of simulating conversations between two people to a remarkable degree. During No Known Survivors' intermission, CECL speaks with rough disdain of the human need to have closure and "happy endings", but isn't really malevolent.
  • Back Tracking: Apart from copious doors to before, three levels - the Flight Deck, the Medical Deck, and the Bridge - are used twice (though your objectives are in different parts of the level the second time around).
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: As part of a regularly-occurring motif.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Several times. For instance, Isaac encounters a man who headbutts a wall until his skull is pulped. Nicole kills herself via lethal injection prior to Isaac's arrival.
    • There's also the log you can pick up of the man who shoots his own limbs off with a Plasma Cutter so that even if he came back as a Necromorph, he can't hurt anyone. It doesn't work.
  • BFG: The Contact Beam. To get an idea of how powerful this weapon is, the damage from most weapons range from 5 to 20. The damage from the contact beam without any upgrades is 100 and 175 when fully upgraded.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Kendra, Dr. Mercer and the Hive Mind.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Due to a Special Effect Failure, the version of the Ishimura shown in the introduction is vastly smaller than its own interior, to the point where it could comfortably fit inside itself several times over.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The PA system occasionally plays public addresses in French. One of those translates to "Attention please, we would like to remind you that body searches may be performed at any moment. Body damage suffered in these searches is not covered by health insurance." Some of them are also in Spanish.
    • Also, the name of the Ishimura itself, which means "Rock-Village" in Japanese. Rather fitting for a mining ship.
  • Bittersweet Ending: You live, but all of your companions are dead, as well as the people you knew on the Ishimura. You find out that your girlfriend killed herself long before you arrived, and that you've been talking to a hallucination of her produced by the Marker... which, by the way, almost certainly drove you at least a little insane... And there's a sequel.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Of all the named characters who appear in the game, Hammond is the first one to die. That said, he manages to survive until about 4/5ths of the way through the game, and after he finally buys it most everyone else follows suit pretty quickly.
  • Boom! Headshot!/Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Played straight and subverted. Shooting a Necromorph's head will kill it... if you've blown off at least one of its other limbs (or two, depending on what you're shooting). Shooting one in the head from the get-go, however, will only make it go berserk.
    • However, after the head is removed, if you throw it or shoot it, it pops like a melon filled with firecrackers.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • The Plasma Cutter and the Line Gun are all the player needs to utterly dominate the game on any difficulty setting. The Plasma Cutter is the first weapon as well as the only free one, but both appear early on and can perform the job of any of the more Awesome but Impractical weapons faster, more cheaply, and without encumbering Isaac. There's even an achievement for completing the game using only the Plasma Cutter.
    • A slight aversion occurs in the case of the Pulse Rifle in that it is probably the most conventional weapon in-game (and technically, the only one) and is among the least effective until you've beefed it up to top form.
  • Boss Room: If one constantly checks their map screen, they can almost flawlessly predict when a big encounter of some kind is about to occur.
  • Broken Bridge: Thank you, Ishimura Security System, because sealing off all the doors in an emergency always helps. The security system refers to the emergency as a "Hazardous Anomaly": it makes sense for it to be locked away. The only thing that flaws this system is that the "Anomaly" in question can move through vents and sub-ceilings with ease, and is not stopped by doors. Unlike you.
  • Cat Scare: The game loves to do this to you: you'll hear the Scare Chord and only see a box falling from a shelf, it's only until several seconds later that a hideous alien baby jumps out of the dark at you. This is generally due to the game's line of sight detection thinking the monster is in view when it isn't.
  • Chainsaw Good: The Ripper is frequently used as a gun that shoots sawblades, but the primary firing mode certainly qualifies. It's a maglev chainsaw, for high-tech remote limb-lopping. Or for cutting live power lines in an emergency without the operator getting electrocuted.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Mostly averted, in that the game does not pause when accessing the inventory. It's not a good idea to open it up when a Necromorph is trying to chew your face off. However, changing clothes takes place in a special cutscene at the store, and therefore actually is a free action.
  • Charged Attack: The Contact Beam's primary fire.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Escape Pod #47.
    • Don't forget the broken guidance tether on the Ishimura. Hmmm, what do you think will happen the next time a ship attempts automated docking procedures?
  • Cherry Tapping: Isaac's Curb Stomp of DOOM.
  • Closed Circle: After they arrive on the Ishimura, the USG Kellion blows up as Isaac attempts to load up a damage report... in preparation for leaving, in fact.
  • Colony Drop: Though not exactly a colony, a massive portion of Aegis VII comes crashing down after Isaac accidentally shuts down the only thing holding it in position!
    • He then has to not only race Kendra Daniels to the only still-functioning space ship on the planet, but also defeat the Hive Mind, start up the shuttle, and after all that, get far enough away before the Aegis VII Shattering Kaboom!
  • Combat Tentacles: A bunch of Necromorphs have these, most notably the recurring ones that grab you and drag you towards your doom.
  • Continuous Decompression: Averted. When an airlock opens, the air will rush out in a second or so.
  • Cosmic Horror: When the game isn't freaking you out with body horror, it's freaking you out with H.P. Lovecraft's old standby.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: Chapters 3 and 4. First, you have to run a circular through a now-active centrifuge to reach an elevator and leave the area, ducking into large niches in the walls when the arm goes past or being torn to shreds. In the next chapter, you have to run over the outside of the Ishimura and hide behind metal walls to avoid getting splattered by asteroid impacts. Made interesting as you are exposed to space in both cases, so if you take too long, you asphyxiate, while Chapter 3 also has Necromorphs pop up in each cubby.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted. Isaac doesn't die until that last sliver of blue is gone, but he does increase his heart rate, breathing rate, and slump over while moving if badly injured. Also, while having no lasting side-effects, Isaac starts panting and gasping heavily with increasing intensity as his air reserves run out.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: The Necromorphs are ridiculously more powerful when they're not directly facing Isaac: they can one-shot anyone who happens to be behind at least one pane of unbreakable glass. It's also implied that a single Leaper somehow managed to destroy the Kellion, and a single Slasher killed almost the entire crew of a fully-armed warship, then infected them despite that Slashers can't do this at any other point in the game.
  • Dangerous Windows: The Ishimura doesn't have many windows. But it does have chest high vents that act the same way as windows for incoming monsters.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Sometimes you are forced to kill enemies in pitch blackness (Isaac's tools have mounted flashlights), and sometimes it's a false alarm.
  • Dead All Along: If you take the first letter of each chapter name and put them together, they spell NICOLE IS DEAD. It is indeed true. The "Nicole" you see throughout the game is just a hallucination created by the Marker to manipulate Isaac into putting it back on the Pedestal they took it from.
  • Dead Character Walking: A glitch that sometimes causes Necromorphs to endlessly run around in circles, making them invincible until you block their path.
  • Dead Hand Shot: The box art.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: The ventilation fans.
  • Death by Irony: Hammond. When you first fight a brute, he warns you that the only way to harm it is to shoot it in the back. Much later in the game, a brute corners him, and he panics and fires right into the creature's front, doing nothing and getting him torn apart. To be fair to poor Hammond though, he was cornered and up against a vastly tougher version.
  • Decontamination Chamber: Which takes exactly as long as it takes for Isaac to kill several Necromorphs. However, the ship's AI considers Necromorphs to be Bio-hazards (which they are), so it isn't much of a stretch for the AI to wait until the bio-hazards have been dealt with before finishing.
  • Destruction Equals Off Switch: Or on switch in the case of certain doors with exposed fuses.
  • Diegetic Interface: Everything is a Hard Light Holographic Terminal projected either by Isaac's RIG or the equipment he's working on. Your HUD is the indicators on your back (for health), the ammo counter on your weapon, and that's it. And you don't see the ammo counter unless you're aiming.
  • Distress Call: Two: one from the Ishimura that gets you out to it in the first place, and another is made by you while you're on the Ishimura.
  • Divine Chessboard: The Marker is guiding various people through projections of dead loved ones to destroy the Hive Mind by putting it back on the pedestal. The Hive Mind in turn guides the Necromorphs.
  • Door to Before: Gets pretty obvious as the game goes on that when there are two doors leading to one area on a map and only one is open when you go in, that you will end up going all the way around and coming out through that previously-locked door.
  • Driven to Suicide: The crew of the Ishimura isn't entirely dead when Isaac arrives. When you do find them, most of them will be in the process of committing suicide because they know that the Necromorphs turn human corpses into new Necromorphs. Some of them might be doing this to join them; others apparently found creative ways to kill themselves (like a guy who blasted off all his own limbs!) so they wouldn't add to the threat. Mostly though, the survivors are all nuts since they've been Driven to Madness, both by the horrible situation as well as the Mind Rape effect happening to everyone.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: This happens to Aegis VII.
  • Elite Mooks: Dark versions of the Necromorph types are tougher, faster and deal more damage. They mostly show up in the later levels.
    • The Valor soldiers with their Stasis unit merged in their Necromorph form; they're fast.
  • The End - or Is It?: In the ending cutscene, Isaac seems to be attacked by his dead girlfriend, who has been made into a basic Necromorph. It's all imagined by Isaac, he survived the encounter and reprises his role, plus actual spoken lines, in the sequel.
  • Energy Weapons: Or in this case, energy power tools and one weapon.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: "Everyone!" as Kendra claims.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The Ishimura is just as lethal as the Necromorphs in some cases.
  • Evil Is Visceral: Purposely uses as many of the related tropes as possible. Even the creatures and bosses that are not man-shaped at all use organic features for maximum Squick factor. The game studio that develops the series is named Visceral Games too.
  • Exploding Barrels: They're technically canisters, and presumably filled with Hydrazine fuel or fuel for the ship itself.
  • Eye Scream: It's no big spoiler that the captain of the ship is already dead, but it's a semi-spoiler when you learn he was stabbed in the eye with a needle by Dr. Kyne in an attempt to calm him down. Made even worse when you read a text log stating the needle went all the way past his eye and into his brain. The cover art for the second animated film [[Dead Space: Aftermath].
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Shockpoint drive. How does it work? In this game, you can dismember alien zombies, so who cares?
  • Fetch Quest: Pretty much any level will be about finding arbitrary object A and taking it to place B, which is often right near where you start.
  • Finishing Stomp: A good idea when you're not quite sure whether that Necromorph in front of you is dead yet. Also a good idea when you're not quite sure whether there's an Infector nearby who might make a new Necromorph out of that human corpse in front of you. And finally, a good idea if there's a crate you want opened in front of you. Not a good idea when it comes to certain enemies who happen to be explosive, but in 95% of all cases, stomping the crap out of something will make your situation better... even if it's just by relieving stress. Isaac believes it's cathartic as well: he puts a lot of emotion into his voice when he stomps on something.
  • Flatline: This sound is emitted by a RIG if its wearer (e.g. Isaac) dies. Also, when Hammond, and later Kendra, gets killed, Isaac can hear flatlines. Also, if you listen closely in the beginning, you can hear flatlines when the two Red Shirts you brought with you are killed.
  • Forced Tutorial: USE RUN TO MOVE QUICKLY OR ELSE.
  • Foreboding Architecture: Is there a time where entirely artificial, metal-based architecture doesn't make one suspect a hideous murder is about to happen?
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The Marker manipulates Kyne by communicating through the image of his dead wife and Isaac through Nicole. A sharp gamer will notice that Kyne is seeing his dead wife, and since Mercer states that the Marker hallucinations are of dead people, will come to the conclusion that Nicole is dead as well. It's made more obvious in Martyr.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The first letter of every chapter title. Together, they spell out NICOLE IS DEAD.
  • Game Breaking Bug:
    • There's a couple, but a big one is in Chapter 5, where the Fetch Quest-link can be broken (Isaac can't activate the panel to turn the Chemical Mixture W/DNA into Poison), possibly by saving/reloading during the quest, preventing the player from continuing further. Reloading the game may fix this, but usually the only way is to completely start over with a new game.
    • Also, don't save after moving the Marker into the second to last shutter (i.e. don't put it in the shutter, then go and save at the nearby save point). Even after you open the other Shutter, the Marker will refuse to move onto the tracks.
  • Gangsta Style: The Plasma Cutter actually has a Gansta Style mode: the barrel, such as it is, can be rotated to fire sideways, making it easier to sever legs or shoot things that are crawling on walls.
  • Ghost Ship: The Ishimura.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Short summary: item of immense religious significance found on a planet, item removed from planet, really, really, really bad stuff goes down afterward.
  • The Great Repair: Keeping the Ishimura afloat.
  • Grid Inventory
  • Grotesque Gallery: Every Necromorph, including the ones pinned to the wall by a mound of flesh that constantly gives birth to hideous little babies every few seconds. Did we mention it screams? Constantly?
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Valor is a military ship armed for war and advised it may be dealing with a deadly biological menace. So of course they take a random escape pod on board and take no precautions at all when opening it. What's the worst that could happen?
  • Guns Are Worthless: The baseline Pulse Rifle is virtually useless and has the worst alt-fire in the game. But if it looks like a dog, acts like a dog, and barks like a dog, it is probably an industrial-strength mining tool with the safeties disabled, so all the other weapons are basically guns anyway.
    • The upgraded Pulse Rifle, however, is one of the game's best weapons, especially against bosses: great rate of fire, precise enough to slice limbs, huge ammo capacity and (probably most important) STOPPING POWER. If you start unloading on an enemy, he'll be pinned down by the weapon's shower of lead (or, er, pulses).
  • Hammerspace: Isaac appears to keep weapons inside his groin, and his grid inventory represents some alternate dimension that items typically enter through his feet.
  • Harder Than Hard: Impossible difficulty, which has to be unlocked. It is hardly impossible, but squander upgrades, money or ammo, and you will die miserable death after miserable death in the later chapters. However, you won't get any new overpowered items or hidden cutscenes if you finish this difficulty.
  • Hard Levels Easy Bosses: With one exception, the enemies in this game pose more threat to you than the bosses do, largely because the bosses telegraph their moves well in advance. Only the giant slug boss you have to fight with the turret is of comparable difficulty, and that can be boiled down to poor controls.
  • Head Desk: Not really done to express annoyance, but the first game has Isaac come across a guy randomly doing this in a part of the USG Ishimura. The guy is just standing in the hallway beating his head against a wall, with more blood coming out with every hit. Eventually, he hits his head against it hard enough that it kills him. And when his corpse is on the ground, you can see that there was nothing left inside him, all of his intestines had apparently been ripped out.
  • Healing Factor: The Hunter Necromorph can regrow limbs, making it an ammo sink until you find a way to keep it from following you.
  • He Knows Too Much: Isaac Clarke by the end. And in fulfillment of this trope, Kendra leaves Isaac for dead twice because he knows that the Marker was a military experiment.
  • Hero of Another Story: You'll frequently hear about the exploits of Acting Chief Engineer Jacob Temple via audio logs found throughout the ship, detailing his journey to find and save his girlfriend while traveling through all the areas that Isaac ends up going through. Unlike Isaac, Jacob even actually manages to meet up with his girlfriend alive. Unfortunately, Dr. Mercer ambushes and kills them both.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted, though the Lurkers are actually mutated from clone embryos meant to be used for replacement limbs (which, in the expanded material, is apparently a regular enough safety hazard that they have an entire deck devoted to this).
  • Hive Mind: The Necromorphs are supposedly lead by one, though it doesn't seem to do a whole lot.
  • Holographic Terminal: There's no HUD at all, just a bunch of nifty holographic GUIs that manifest as actual objects in the game world. No pausing to check the inventory for you!
  • Hope Spot: Near the end of the game, Isaac actually succeeds in putting the Marker back on its pedestal and suppressing the Necromorphs and the Hive Mind. That lasts for just a few seconds before Kendra removes it again, and things get even worse.
  • Idiot Ball: Apparently, the entire crew of the Valor spontaneously forgot about their infinite-charge personal Stasis modules when faced with a single bog-standard Necromorph.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: How Isaac gets his kinesis module.
  • Improvised Weapon: Only one of the eight weapons is an actual gun, the rest are really mining/survey equipment. Rather undermined, since they are tools that happen to work more or less exactly like firearms, probably so the workers would have something effective to defend themselves with in case they were attacked by Space Pirates. Word of God states that the power tools were illegally modified when the ship came under attack. Every weapon (except the Pulse Gun) is designed to cut or bisect enemies: the crew knew about dismembering being effective, and adapted their tools (the only things they had) to deal with the situation.
  • Incendiary Exponent: The flamethrower.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. The Necromorphs transform infants as well as adults, with similar results. One log implies that some children have been born to members of the crew, but the majority of the undead mutant space-babies apparently come from the growing tanks that are right next to the racks for storing fully organic replacement limbs. To make things worse, Isaac can also kill them with a melee attack, that has him kicking them into the next wall.
  • Informed Equipment: Isaac's weaponry and equipment are kept in Hammerspace: despite that the inventory is an in-universe object, the things it represents are just sucked into Isaac's feet and deposited in a pocket dimension for when he needs them.
  • Ink Suit Actor: The characters with names and faces are voiced by the same people in whose likeness they are made.
  • Insurmountable Waist High Fence: The flimsy metal barricade in the Medical Bay, which for some reason requires an entire level centered on building a makeshift explosive device to shift, despite the player character's entire armament at that point supposedly consisting of industrial cutting tools.
    • Oddly inverted in areas featuring zero gravity. Isaac should be able to accidentally walk off the unprotected edge.
    • You also can't step off the edge of the floor only a few inches from the top of a ramp.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: You won't hear Twinkle Twinkle Little Star the same way you used to...
  • Jump Scare: A particularly unexpected one happens at the very end.
  • Kill'Em All: Everyone dies except Isaac.
  • Kill It with Fire: You can buy the flamethrower during gameplay, but its usefulness against most Necromorphs is debatable.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Kendra steals the Marker from its pedestal. The only thing keeping all the horrible space creatures neutralized. She's smashed into paste by the massive Hive Mind less than five minutes later.
  • Late to the Party: By the time the Kellion makes it to the Ishimura to repair the subspace array, most of the crew is dead. At most, there are 20 survivors, and of these, all but four are too far gone to be saved. The entire ship is overrun by the infection, and Necromorphs have free reign over it.
    • And the Valor after that. Not a good day in the Aegis system.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Level 5 of the Shooting Gallery can be this. The targets pop up just fast enough that shooting a red target can accidentally blow away a blue one behind it in the same shot, thus ruining the score.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: HOLY--
  • MacGuffin: The Marker: practically anything weird that happens can be credited to the Marker messing with you... The power of the Marker to repel Necromorphs is somewhat debatable though, as the Necromorphs seem as willing to attack you when you are standing next to it. Maybe it needs to be on its pedestal to work properly.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Once Isaac loads the Marker onto the shuttle, Kendra reveals her status as The Mole, kills Doctor Kyne, and leaves Isaac to die on the Ishimura. Isaac's not going to let her get away with that.
  • Made of Plasticine: Isaac can dismember uninfected human bodies by stomping on them in the right spot. He's also torn apart in some kills (like the gravity centrifuge) where he should die from trauma but still have his body intact.
    • At least the first is somewhat justified: Isaac is wearing magnetized boots, so he could just turn the magnet on for a split-second to gain some extra force.
  • Mad Scientist: One slightly less mad one who wants your help and another much crazier one who wants to kill you.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Smashed to pieces, slashed to pieces, being impaled then slashed to pieces, being body-jacked by a parasitic head, being eaten, and much more.
  • Meaningful Name: {{spoiler|Temple and Cross care for each other, and both are murdered by Mercer, the hyperreligious whack-job}.}
  • Meat Moss: Growing all over the ship. Made about ten times more disgusting by it being self-replicating rotting flesh implicitly constructed from ordinary dust (which is made of dead skin).
  • Money Spider: For some reason, many of the Necromorphs are carrying either ammunition, health or their paychecks. This gets a little weird when you find it includes Lurkers.
  • Mook Chivalry: Averted, as Isaac must learn to fight off several (very) different types of enemies at the same time. Isaac is invincible to attacks from other enemies when he's trying to pull one off of his face though.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Whoever gave a doctorate to Dr. Mercer is crazier than he is. And Kyne's school isn't much better, considering what he's done.
  • Mundane Utility: Inverted. The weapons that Isaac uses are actually mining or repair tools. The plasma cutter, line gun and ripper are used for cutting through rock and other barriers, the force gun is essentially a jackhammer, etc, etc. All of them have in-game justifications for the Ishimura's task of planet-cracking. The only true weapon that you get is the pulse rifle, and it's a lot less effective than your other weapons unless you upgrade it considerably.
    • Don't forget Isaac's suit. At its strongest, it's slightly less effective than full-on combat armor because it was made for engineers (like Isaac) trained to go in and solve problems under extreme conditions. As an engineer trained to handle emergencies on a spaceship, Isaac had to be prepared for anything that could go wrong on a spaceship, and a lot can go wrong in a spaceship.
  • New Game+: Beating the game once unlocks the hardest difficulty mode, a shittonne of credits, and ten Nodes.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Even before the Zombie Apocalypse, the Ishimura isn't exactly the safest place in the universe. For example, it has nozzles designed to spray acid across a hallway at a set of storage rooms at regular intervals.
  • Not Quite Dead: Occasionally, Necromorphs that you have only damaged will play dead and ambush you when you try to walk past. The Hunter Necromorph refuses to die, growing back its limbs when you cut them off and even coming back after you cryogenically freeze him. Eventually, you have incinerate him with a shuttle's engine fire to finish him off for good.
  • Not Using the Zed Word: The Necromorphs. Ironically, the game makers basically summed them up as "Space Zombies".
  • Oh Crap: Kendra's reaction to the Hive Mind. Seconds before it smashes her into paste.
  • One Bullet Clips: Taken a step further with each type of ammo being limited to a set clip size in your inventory (100 rounds per slot for Pulse Rounds, for example), which often doesn't match the clip size of the gun you're using it with. The Plasma Cutter can never hold as many rounds as one of its clips does, while Pulse Rifle clips only cover the bare minimum capacity of the rifle. A fully-upgraded rifle carries slightly less than two clips.
  • One Last Job: Being the Captain of the Ishimura, a ship about to be decommissioned, Mathius chose to become apart of the church of Unitology's plan to secretly give the Red Marker to the church. He dies of needle to the brain.
  • Oxygen Meter: Used when you enter a vacuum or toxic environments. The game is pretty forgiving in this respect: you get a minute of air minimum, and there's infinite oxygen refill stations in areas where you'll certainly exceed that minimum.
  • Path of Greatest Resistance: The Guide Lines subvert this somewhat, but there are a few times where your best navigation maneuver is to seek the path that tries to kill you.
  • People Jars:
    • Gotta make replacement limbs somehow, right?
    • Doctor Mercer's office contains various heads in jars and a room in the Medical Bay contains the Hunter and another victim in large jars.
  • Perpetual Motion Monster: Necromorphs don't need to eat, sleep or breathe and are essentially immortal. The Hunter even more so: not only does it share those attributes, it can regrow limbs endlessly.
  • Personal Space Invader: Every Necromorph tries to grab Isaac and gnaw his face off, but the Lurkers are especially prone to this, and the several giant tentacles Isaac must face grab him and drag him down the hallway.
  • Plot Hole: Almost anything regarding the Valor's crash and destruction requires disbelief to be not so much suspended as hung, drawn and quartered.
  • Powered Armor: Subverted somewhat. Isaac's suit is basically a fabric spacesuit when the game begins, and the various suit 'levels' add bar-like plates to the exterior of it, making it roughly akin to futuristic splint mail as the game progresses. Played straight with the Military Suit, which resembles a cross between Stormtrooper armor and MJOLNIR armor.
  • Press X to Not Die: If a creature grabs hold of you, just mash the right button, and you'll pry them off, and oftentimes unleash a can of whupass whilst doing so (such as kicking the lurkers clear across the room). A few instances, such as the Hive Mind's grab and the tentacles dragging you to your doom, require you to aim, rather than just mash.
  • Psychic Link: The Hive Mind apparently has one of these with the other Necromorphs, though in practice, it doesn't really affect the proceedings, and the Necromorphs seem to largely do their own thing.
    • It might be more intelligent that it looks: the moment Isaac begins moving the Red Marker, Necromorphs everywhere increase in numbers and try to stop him every step of the way.
    • And the Marker is really pulling a Mind Screw on Kyne and Isaac.
      • Also, right at the start of the second mission, Isaac runs into a dying, blinded woman cradling and talking to "McCoy" (at that point, McCoy was a rotting, dismembered torso). She tells Isaac that McCoy said he'd show up, and hands him a kinesis module. This is likely the Marker tricking her into giving Isaac a needed tool so he could do his part in returning it to the planet.
  • Psycho Strings: The entire soundtrack.
  • Raising the Steaks: Some fish get attacked by the Necromorphs.
  • Randomly Drops: Sort of subverted. Item drops are randomized, but ammunition dropped tends to only be from weapons Isaac is carrying. All ammunition drops that don't fit this are fixed and will be available from the same location in every single playthrough of the game.
    • There also seems to be something of a pattern in how often medkits are dropped (especially when Isaac's health is very low) and where stasis-recharge packs are more likely to recharge (in the areas where this ability is required more often).
  • Rear Window Witness
  • Recycled in Space: The game is Resident Evil 4 IN SPACE! Whether or not this is awesome is entirely up to the player (apart from gameplay, it's effectively an updated version of System Shock 2, but that was already in space).
  • Red Herring: You lose contact with Hammond several times throughout the game with weird shit popping up during the interim, and Kendra thinks he knows more than he's letting on. He doesn't, she's The Mole and keeps cutting off his communications. She's most likely accusing him of being a spy to avert any suspicion towards herself. "The lady doth protest too much" indeed.
  • Redshirt Army: Oh Dead Space army, you fail so hard. Maybe you should send the troops into mining engineering classes.
  • Retirony: The Ishimura was to be decommissioned the following year of the events of the game, but for the unlucky crew, especially Captain "One Eye" Mathius, they all went insane and killed each other or themselves before being turned into Necromoprhs.
  • The Reveal: Isaac finally takes off his helmet in the ending cutscene.
    • It can also be seen at the very beginning if you know what you are doing.
    • Finding out NICOLE IS DEAD, as spelled out by the first letter of each chapter name.
    • That Kendra betrays you and leaves you for dead or that Isaac has been experiencing hallucinations of his dead girlfriend induced by the Marker and arguably propagated by the Hive Mind.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Isaac loves his stamping on crates. And so do the fans.
  • Room Full of Crazy: In addition to the usual mounds of corpses, some rooms have writing scribbled all over the walls. Not all of it is in English, and it's possible that decoding the writings in the Unitologist alphabet would prove scarier than anything else in the game.
    • And did we mention that the writing is usually in blood?
  • Rule of Cool: Some of the game's developers have specifically stated that they did not want Isaac to look like a Space Marine. Be that as it may, what's the best suit in the entire game, in terms of both protection and aesthetics? The Military Suit. Not that it did the Valor any good...
    • The primary reason why you would find a remotely operated circular saw blade weapon. It even sounds like a real circular saw. If there's a more satisfying way to dismember Necromorphs, we haven't found it yet.
  • Scare Chord: The game features a dynamic music system implemented so that no music, or very little, plays when there's nothing around, but when Isaac sees, hears, or feels something that seriously raises his stress levels, some scary violin chords kick in.
    • Listening to the soundtrack on its own has moments of this, since those chords are built into almost every track.
    • Then there's that incident with the tomatoes...
  • Screamer Trailer
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Doctor Mercer introduces himself and his insanity by releasing the Hunter from the tank right behind you.
    • Oh, and for the Aegis VII miners? Moving the Marker off its pedestal was a bad idea.
  • Second-Hour Superpower: The Kinesis Module. This is probably one of the most useful tools at your disposal, along with your plasma cutter.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: The engineer that shot off his own limbs. He thought that he could prevent the infection (or at least not be able to hurt anyone if he turned), but he's the first Necromorph you see when you step out of the elevator.
  • Shooting Gallery
  • Shout-Out: Isaac Clarke's name.
    • At one point, you have to salvage a "Singularity Core" from the USM Valor. Said core looks an awful lot like a flux capacitor...
      • The first loading screen, which is a graph describing the Kellion's Shockpoint jump, also states that the "Flux Capacitor" is a component of the FTL engine system. Other components include The Improbability Drive and Warp Field Generator.
    • On the Medical Deck, a woman address a corpse as McCoy.
    • Mercer also possesses a medical manual in his office for 'Galaxy Class' starships. There's also a "Storage Room 47".
    • Having to mix up poison and use it on the hydrophonics deck? Guess the system has been shocked.
    • A visual shout-out to Alien: when encountering danger for the first time, you run down a dark hallway full of flashing yellow lights, almost identical to Ripley's retreat from the Nostromo.
    • The promotional comic The Big Game is one of Chick Tract's.
    • Word of God says that the Divider enemy and its howl were inspired by The Thing.
  • Shown Their Work: The Dead Space wiki talks about the hydrazine fuel of the flamethrower and its use for melting ice on comets for mining. Such a fuel is used in space travel already, ice is plentiful on comets, and it's all very well thought through, except that in the game, the flamethrower doesn't work in a vacuum. Hmm.
    • Ever wonder why flies would populate something that's floating around in space? The Ishimura is designed to be self-sufficient. It has hydroponic gardens, probably recycling centers and whatnot. As such, flies would be completely necessary for breaking down organic waste and many of the gardening processes.
    • The Game Pro article "The Science of Dead Space".
  • Sidetrack Bonus: There are many rooms and even entire areas that you do not need to pass through to proceed, but many may contain supplies. Or monsters.
  • Sniper Pistol: The Plasma Cutter is basically a fancy handgun, but it's extremely long ranged and stable.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Averted, more or less. The first weapon you get, the Plasma Cutter, is good enough to be your weapon of choice to the end of the game. There's an achievement for only using the cutter for a playthrough, and it's actually fairly easy to get.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Two of the trailers for the games. One for the first game is set to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" while flashes of gore and horror flicker across the screen. The second game is a lot less subtle... A twisted, sinister version of "Ring Around The Rosie" is the backdrop to Isaac fighting for his life, the Sprawl in chaos, Necromorphs...
  • Space Is Noisy: Averted. The game will amplify the sounds coming from inside Isaac's helmet, muffle the sounds coming from direct contact with his weapons or the ground, and mute most sounds while in a vacuum (you can still hear close enemies though, because the sound being realistically transmitted through the floor). It's actually quite immersive and adds to the gameplay since he can't hear Necromorphs creeping up on him.
    • Space Is Cold is also averted, for that matter, though it's less obvious.
  • Space Is Slow Motion: Perhaps unintentional, but nearly everything done in zero gravity environments is slower than in the artificial gravity counterparts.
    • At least the slower walking is justified as magnetic boots would require you to always keep one foot on the ground at any time, making walking quickly and running very difficult.
  • Space Zombies Can Breathe In Space: Necromorphs have no problem operating in areas with no air to breathe. However, they still should be vulnerable to explosive decompression, or cellular damage due to long term exposure to the lack of atmospheric pressure, unless part of the necromorphing process involves expelling all of the gasses in the human body to prevent that from happening.
  • Spiritual Successor: To System Shock, in every way except for gameplay, which is more closely modeled after Resident Evil 4.
  • Spotting the Thread: Quite a few: first of all, it is a relatively simple jump in imagination to complete the message that the chapter titles are spelling out, in both Dead Space and Extraction.
    • Second: you know that Doctor Kyne is hallucinating and is seeing his dead wife, and after hearing Mercer talk about it in a log, you can figure out that the Marker can only create visions of the dead, and, so Nicole is dead as well.
    • Third: when you are in close proximity to Nicole in the Flight Control Room, getting close to the monitors causes them to display Marker text overlaying a CEC logo. It's the first clue that something is wrong with Isaac.
  • Spring Loaded Corpse: Necromorphs adore playing dead, and since the ship is overflowing with corpses, this can make for many a Jump Scare. Proceeding with your throat getting torn out.
    • Made even worse by the fact that many creatures love to play dead in the middle of a fight, and will happily stalk you while your back is turned. Nothing quite as pleasant as turning around and seeing the creature you supposedly just killed escape into a nearby vent.
    • This turns into a bit of unintentional hilarity when players have wised up to this trick. The best of them simply know to (a) watch for the drop when you kill a Necromorph (since items tend to be shiny and holographically highlighted), (b) automatically blow any "predeceased" Necromorph you see laying around away by shooting its legs out with a plasma gun or line gun (this works since only one "predeceased" Necromorph on the whole ship actually is dead and not playing dead, though it can still be overlooked if a play-dead Necromorph is hiding in a pile of human corpses), and (c) preemptively dismember all the corpses in areas they know an Infecter will be about. The rest of us simply dismember everything and some of us rationalize it as Isaac Clarke being properly paranoid. Or we like the psychological morale boost to hear Isaac's cave-man roar and the wet squelch sound of corpses popping under the Mighty Boot.
  • Stock Scream: Isaac releases a few of these at times, particularly during the battle with the Hive Mind if you fail to free yourself from the tentacles.
  • Subspace Ansible: Implied via Nicole's message getting out at all.
    • Note that the distress signal Isaac sends out being answered immediately is part of the story (the military ship was nearby all along).
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Kendra sees fit to steal the Marker after Isaac returns it, even though it is the only thing holding the Necromorph hoard at bay and she is barely armed (a single pistol, while Isaac is practically an armory). Needless to say, her death comes swiftly.
  • Surprisingly-Sudden Death: The two Red Shirts Isaac brought with him in the scene where Isaac has to override security in the Flight Lounge.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Played straight, but often inverted in a manner similar to After Boss Recovery.
  • Take Your Time: No matter how urgent the task, nothing will actually happen until you reach the place it's supposed to occur at. Even when the ship is getting pummeled by asteroids or the oxygen levels are rapidly falling, or that big chunk of planet crust is dropping through the sky down onto where you are fighting the end boss. The Necromorphs are good enough to leave you alone while you spend all the time you want practicing at the shooting range or playing Z-Ball.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: An Infector is polite enough to just stand there and let Mercer go through his entire speech before eating him.
  • Tech Points: Power Nodes are usually found as a reward for completing objectives (not directly, but conveniently in the same room as that key you've been looking for, etc). They are used for upgrading weapons, your space suit and occasionally opening optional doors.
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: Often played straight, though it is handwaved by the creatures hiding in vents. The mad doctor Mercer supposedly has hacked the controls for a lot of the areas, but there's a few times where he exits into areas from which there is no escape, and how he avoids being dismembered by the monsters he worships is a complete mystery.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Pretty much every death scene for poor Isaac. A good example would be the Hunter death scene: the creature stabs both its blades through Isaac, then lifts him up above it. It then stabs him two more times, cuts off both his legs, cuts off his left arm, looks into his eyes as he bleeds out, then decapitates him and cuts his torso in half. Yeesh.
  • Third-Person Shooter: The core gameplay mechanic of this game.
  • Title Drop: According to the backstory logs, the Marker creates a "dead space" around it which prevents the Necromorphs from functioning. Though this doesn't actually happen in the game, oddly. The name of the twelfth and final chapter of the game is also "Dead Space".
  • Took a Shortcut: You really do have to wonder how some of the characters manage to get around the ship without being killed, considering they're running around a ship infested with undead killing machines. Hammond and Kendra are somewhat justified, given that the former seems to have military training and the latter spends most of her time sealed in a secure control room and also turns out to be a Spec Ops agent. But you really have to wonder how the unarmed, rather doughy-looking Dr. Kyne, as well as the unarmed and completely batshit insane Dr. Mercer, managed to survive for so long when everyone else got killed.
    • Simple: the Marker is safely leading Kyne around the ship and considering how intelligent the Hive Mind is, all of Mercer's help means leaving him alive is more useful than transforming him into a Necromorph.
  • Tractor Beam: It's called "kinesis", thank you very much. Also, the gravity tethers.
  • Tuckerization: See Shout-Out above.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: The Valor's armory is full of weaponry Isaac can't take, and he has to buy all his own gear save the Plasma Cutter; no other weapons appear in the game as pickups, even though they're supposed to be industrial tools used in the standard operations of the ship he's on. You can't even take the rifle off a guy who was just killed two feet in front of you. That said, he finds a metric assload of ammunition free for the taking.
  • Unwinnable: See Game Breaking Bug above.
  • Variable Mix: The music rises and falls depending on how you move through the level, but it also remains silent unless the player sees a monster, whether or not the monster is actually in the room with you. If one hits you from behind or jumps into view, you get a very appropriate musical sting that adds to the surprise.
  • Vendor Trash: The superconductors.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Admittedly, the only creatures you interact with are undead aliens, but Isaac can maim and mangle them just as badly as they can brutalize him. Cutting limbs off, punting babies like footballs, ripping heads off in chokeholds, tearing tentacles out... and this is actually encouraged by the game; it's more ammo-efficient to dismember your opponents. And it is also true for human corpses. You never know when an Infector is about to pop up and infect all the corpses in the room. Just dismember them all for good measure.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Poor damage. Short (and even weaker) damage over time. Very fast ammo consumption. Short range. Virtually no stopping power or dismemberment ability. You can't even use it in a vacuum. Is there any reason to get this thing? ...Well, when you fully upgrade its damage, blue fire.
  • Video Phone: Isaac has an ultra hi-tech video phone with a projected holographic screen as part of the RIG suit's Comm Link.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: Nearly every panel you can interact with is in huge font with simple words and large symbols. Also, you basically never have to search for functions; the exact thing you are looking for will pop up if you approach the respective terminal.
  • The Virus: The Necromorphs, the race of baddies who make up the Zombie Apocalypse. Unique in that they can't actually infect living people: they have to be dead first. Precisely how the virus itself is transmitted is never particularly clear, since the only vector seen, the Infector, can only create one specific type.
    • Although the Hunter was created by injecting the infection directly through the forehead of a living victim.
    • The motion comic goes into more detail on this, showing a corpse infected by contact with a bacterial colony transforming into an Infector and proceeding to reanimate other nearby dead.
    • Not to mention the book, in which a scientist injects himself with suspicious alien tissue, becoming an Infector soon after.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Kendra and Hammond, for most of the game.
  • Was Once a Man: Pretty much all of the things Isaac graphically dismantles used to be members of the Ishimura's crew, excluding the Hive Mind, and possibly the Leviathan and Slug.
    • It's implied (admittedly more All in The Manual) that the Hive Mind is physically composed from the reshaped corpses of A: the majority of the colonists, B: the original poor bastards who became Necromorph chow when they first reverse-engineered the damn DNA codes, or C: both of the aforementioned.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Used to kill the Hunter.
  • Weapon of Choice: Not exactly canonical, but given that the Plasma Cutter is perhaps the most useful weapon in the game (see Boring but Practical above), as well as the first weapon you get, and the only weapon you get for free, it's not surprising that Isaac is usually portrayed in promotional material as using it.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future
  • Your Head Asplode: The Scientist in Chapter 2.
    • Also, the cackling mad woman who commits suicide as you enter the room in the Unitology 'coven'. Too bad you can't pick up her pistol, since this is just moments prior to the Hunter's second appearance (though all things considered, a pistol would probably be useless).
    • A Necromorph also does this to Isaac if you don't fight it off in time.
  • Zombie Gait: Averted for the most part. Most Necromorphs can keep running pace with Isaac, the exceptions being the ones whose bulk or frailty wouldn't logically allow them to match his speed. Special mention has to go to the Twitchers, former soldiers whose stasis units have been re-purposed to make them inhumanely quick, allowing them to cross a room in seconds.
  1. Albeit ones stated by Word of God to have been illegally modified into weaponry by the crew in an attempt to fight off the Necromorphs.