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The Coherent Universe of Dead Space


Dead Space is a third person, science fiction, action adventure, hack and slash, horror game for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, which was released on the 14th of october 2008.

The game was first announced in September 2007 by Electronic Arts. The game was developed at their studio in Redwood Shores, Califonia.                                                                                                                                                                  The executive producer called Glen Schofield, said that the team aimed to create something ‘darker and creepier’ than their previous titles: “We are all such huge fans of the horror and sci-fi genres; we wanted to create the most terrifying game we could, and keep the player on the edge of their seat the entire time. The design team reportedly spent time analyzing a wide variety of horror films in order to find inspiration for in-game scares.

The game was originally in development for the original Xbox console.

The story takes place far into the future and man kind has consumed all of earths natural resources, fortunately space travel has become possible and a new form of mining is created to meet the resource demands back on earth called “planet cracking” empty uninhabited planets are taken apart and melted to extract their minerals to make fuel, the term for extracting the rock is called “Pop the Cork” because the process is appears similar to a cork being removed from a bottle.



The most famous and successful ship in the space mining industry is called The USG Ishimura, it is the largest organisation and has an impressive record of extracting more fuel and popping more corks than any other ship in the galaxy.http://www.giantbomb.com/dead-space/61-20800/games-at-a-glance-dead-space/35-245837/

However for some reason on a routine operation of planet cracking somewhere deep in space, communication cannot be established to the Ishimura.

To understand what is going on a small maintenance team is despatched from from a nearby ship to investigate the mysterious loss of communication,

You step into the boots of the silent protagonist called Isaac Clark.http://ellekaay.gamerdna.com/images/KOc11kIL/isaac_clarke-jpg

He is accompanied by two other members in-charge of maintenance,

Sgt. Zach Hammond who is in-charge of the investigation.http://norestfortheweary0.wordpress.com/

And Kendra Daniels who is in-charge of communication.http://deadspace.wikia.com/wiki/USM_Valor

They are also accompanied by a two maned armed escort.

The story has in place a more personal reason for why Isaac is part of the investigation, his girlfriend Nicole who is a medical officer is assigned on the Ishimura who’s whereabout’s is not known . 

Assuming at first a malfunction in the communication system on the ship, the team are unaware of the blood drenched dismembering horrors, and dark grimy decent into madness they will endure, as for the majority of the characters this will be their last mission and a simple investigation becomes a desperate fight for survival.

The shuttle crash lands inside the docking bay of the Ishimura, cutting off the escape route and making the player feel that there is no turning back.

From the beginning, Isaac (you, the player) is separated from the team and spends the majority of the game isolated and alone to explore the dark, blood drenched halls and rooms that makes the ship.http://www.flickr.com/photos/36341323@N08/4015455518/

You come into contact fairly quickly in the game vial mutated monsters that have caused all the carnage called Necromorphs.

Necromorphs are meant to be dead human bodies that has been regenerated by a alien bacteria that can only survive by hijacking dead tissue. Necromorph is the real term for the monsters however none of the characters in the game uses this term, instead they give them names that reflect the creatures literally.

Here are all the creatures in Dead Space. What makes the Necromorphs so frightening is that they used to be members of the crew, they were human. Making the player feel slightly bad as they  snuff out their lives.

“Slashers” the most common Necromorph in the game.

“Super Slashers” a powerful and more agile version of the slasher.

“Lurkers” There was a lot of controversy from reviewers over this creature, because it is originally a baby. Some of the designers were feeling that they were pushing their luck making the player have the ability to drop kick a baby which is guaranteed to disturb maybe even upset people playing.






“Twitchers” are the fastest creature and by far the one creature in the game that makes you jump

“Dividers”  when the Divider dies, the head arms and entrails fall off and run around to try and eat you. 

“Guardian (mature)”

“Infector” The name reflects its purpose which is to take dead bodies, reactivate and change them into Slashers to make them part of the horde. Slashers make dead bodies, Infectors make dead bodies into slashers.

The design and story of the creatures is very similar to the 1981 horror film “The Thing” where an alien bacteria infects the crew on an isolated outpost in the Arctic, then breaks, twists and bends the human body to suite a different purpose, the same thing is seen in the Necromorphs design.


The gameplay in Dead Space is a fixed camera over the shoulder, third person perspective.The majority of the cutscenes that take place allow the player to move around and still have control of Isaac, keeping the player engaged at all times.http://www.visualwalkthroughs.com/deadspace/environmental/environmental.htm

The interface is very different to other games because instead of changing to a different screen the interface is disguised as projections and holographs. The health and energy indicator is uniquely located on the spine and shoulder blade of Isaac’s suite and communication between the other characters is shown as videos projections in front of Isaac. This style of interface is consistent throughout the game and is seen everywhere like the opening mechanism for doors, picking up ammo, items and log books that are discovered, which plays in the collecting element in the game. This way of displaying the interface is extremely effective because it feels believable and it feels that the information is not just for you but for Isaac as well.



The designers based their light sources on old dentist lights because they wanted the player to feel interrogated and uncomfortable with their surroundings. They also wanted to make the rooms easily recognisable for the player to identify the purpose of the room like a bedroom or a cafeteria.

They even drew inspiration from Gothic architecture to make show the player how the weight of the roof and walls is distributed to give the game a grounded to life dirty appearance, which makes it more believable. There is also a consistent use of repeated shapes and ribbing in the environment, the ship and Isaac’s suite that evoke human body structure.

If the designers wanted to make the game more believable for the player, they had to take into consideration that these people had to live on this ship for a very long time, before the incident. So they would had to work out what their bedrooms looked like, what would they do for food?, what would they do for fun?

The designs take part in the story, in one mission Isaac has to explore a green house section on the ship to hunt and kill a group of necromorphs called Wheezershttp://www.visualwalkthroughs.com/deadspace/environmental/environmental.htm

that are poisoning the atmosphere and circulate it around the Ishimura, suffocating all remaining survivors on the ship


In another mission you come across an anti gravity basketball court to clearly show where the inhabitants went to unwind and have fun. It even takes part in the gameplay where you have beat the timer and get the wanted amount of  points, once completed the player is rewarded a special item.

It would be unusual if not obviously coincidental that there would be guns on the ship, they would have no need for weapons because no-one would predict they would be battling mutated scythe wielding monsters at any time in the future. The designers could of easily just put guns in the game, but they wanted to stay true to the reality of the game and emphasised the fact that this is a mining vessel and there would be a lot of  tools designed for heavy duty cutting lying about. Put into context they are just simply DIY tools no different to chainsaws and high powered drills, but when there are flesh eating monsters roaming the ship and have a desire to tear you apart, they take on a different meaning and become weapons, justifying there purpose for existing in the game you can even see what each weapons original purpose was from the way it fires.

Previews drew universal attention to the high levels of gore and violence in the game, in particular the tactic which was the games unieque selling point was called “strategic dismemberment. The Necromorphs cannot be defeated by a single shot, rather they have to be incapacitated by shooting off their tentacles, heads, legs and appendages. Where you shoot a necromorph affects the gameplay as well, if you shoot it in the legs it will drop to the floor but it will then crawl to you, if you decapitate the necromorph it will swing its arms violently because it cannot see where its going.

A series of developer diaries released for the game had featured one episode about the system, in which developers mentioned that using conventional tactics, such as aiming for the head or torso would only serve to aggravate some of the Necromorphs. In order to make the corpses look more realistic, the development team studied photos of car crash victims


Shortly after the release of the game the designers issued the making of a prequel produced as an animated film called Dead Space Downfall.

The film was developed by Film Roman and EA and was then released on DVD in October 28 2008, and was then broadcast on the Syfy Channel on December 2 2008.

The story focuses on the Ishimura crew, discovering and extracting the red marker and shows the deterioration of their lives when the marker is in their possession. The film also explores the life of characters who are not seen alive or not seen at all in the game to show the viewer what has happened to them, and gives a real sense of conclusion.

Towards the end you can see the maintenance ship approaching with you knowing Isaac who you play in the game is onboard, so where the film ends the game begins which creates a very comfortable flow in the transition between film and game.


A year after the release of the Dead Space, EA produced the next sequal called Dead Space extraction which was released for the Nintendo Wii


The game takes place at the same time as the film “Dead Space Downfall” but from different character perspectives and at some points it ties in quite coherently with the film.

The story is about a small group of miners, among them a man named Sam Caldwell, who is assisting the extraction of the Red Marker from Aegis VII. Sam and the crew  begin to suffer hallucinations, and are forced to kill their colleagues in self-defense. Before they can escape, a  squad arrives and kills him.

The spot light is then moved to Detective Nathan McNeill, who is working on investigating of the rampage, he meets his old friend, Gabriel Weller upon arrival and the two discover that the outbreak has spread to the entire colony and  are soon attacked by the Necromorphs. They also discover Lexine Murdoch, Sam’s girlfriend  and agree to take her to safety. The group races to find a shuttle and eventually find one in the Megavents, thanks to a man named Warren Eckhardt, an executive from the mining company. The four of them fly to the Ishimura for help but the Ishimura warns them to return to the surface. The group refuses which results in the Ishimura shooting them down with its cannons, causing the shuttle to crash into the Ishimura and forcing the group to space walk to a nearby airlock.

After entering the Ishimura the group discovers the ship itself is infested with Necromorphs. As they attempt to move to the bridge, which they believe will be safer, they encounter Nicole Brennan in the medical bay who elects to stay behind in case anyone else arrives. The rest of the group continues on but they soon fall into the sewage system, where Lexine is attacked by Swarmers and is pulled into a water tank; the group assumes she has died. Dr. Karen Howell discovers Lexine, who has somehow survived, and the two find McNeill, Eckhardt, and Weller. McNeill, Weller, and Lexine continue on while Howell attempts to shut down the sewerage system, guarded by Eckhardt, but Howell is soon killed by a Necromorph tentacle due to Eckhardt fleeing and locking the door behind him. When he finds the others, Eckhardt lies, saying Howell died fighting off a swarm of Necromorphs.

In order to search for a shuttle to get off the Ishimura, McNeill and Lexine split up from Weller and Eckhardt to search multiple shuttle bays. Weller and Eckhardt find a shuttle but Weller catches Eckhardt finishing a recording of a message to a member of the Church of Unitology. Weller watches the message; Eckhardt says that he was sent to find a person who was immune to the effects of the Marker, and who could protect others from its effects as well, and he believes that Lexine is that person. After Weller is done watching the message, Eckhardt shoots Weller and tells him of his plans, only to be killed by a Necromorph himself. McNeill and Lexine find Weller and escape on the shuttle right after McNeill shuts down the power to the cannons on the Ishimura that were preventing them from leaving, although he had to cut off his arm in the process. As they escape, they hear a transmission from the USG Kellion. Lexine tries to warn them away but they do not receive the message.

A cut scene shows Lexine attacked from behind by a Necromorph that has formed from McNeill or Weller, as both had suffered grave injuries and have possibly been infected. At the last moment, she grabs a pistol and aims it at the Necromorph as the scene ends with Lexine’s, Weller’s and McNeill’s fates unclear.

To continue the story even more, a third interactive instalment was made called “Dead Space Ignition” which was created by Visceral Games, Sumo Digital and then published by Electronic Arts for the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.



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