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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.
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.
- 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, the 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 economic collapse and subsequent extinction due to resource starvation were very close at hand. Furthermore, that solution isn't sustainable, and humanity is still limping on its way to disaster. In many ways, the horrifically unethical experiments that EarthGov has repeatedly performed on the Markers 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 their victims, they stab them through the abdomen, or rips their heads off, 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.
- 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 the 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