Dead Space (series)

Dead Space is a science fiction horror media franchise created by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey, developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts. The franchise centers on a series of video games, and includes two films and a comic book series. The series began in 2008 as an eponymous video game aimed at creating, in Schofield's words, "the most terrifying game we could acquire"; the game was a success and spawned a prequel and later a sequel released in 2011.

Dead Space
Dead Space logo.jpg
Dead Space series logo (2008–2010)
Genre(s)Survival horror
Developer(s)Visceral Games
Publisher(s)Electronic Arts
Creator(s)Glen Schofield, Michael Condrey
Platform(s)Android, BlackBerry 10, iOS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Wii
First releaseDead Space
October 13, 2008
Latest releaseDead Space 3
February 5, 2013

Each installment in the Dead Space series is a continuation or addition to a continuing storyline which began with the release of the original game. The game is set in a 26th-century science fiction universe featuring environments, weapons and characters typical of the genre. The series' chronology is not presented in a linear format, with sections of the story line presented in the form of either prequels or sequels, and in different media aside from video games. Generally speaking, the series focuses on an engineer named Isaac Clarke and the horrors that surround him.

The series has been commercially and critically successful, selling over 10 million copies; the first game and its sequel received widely positive reviews from the majority of critics and the first game has received a number of industry awards for many different elements of its gameplay and development.


The Dead Space games are survival horrors, with the player character visible at all times. All menu interfaces are diegetic, produced by the character's "Resource Integration Gear" spacesuit for ease of communication with other characters. For instance, the character's hit point meter, built into the spine of his suit, is intended to allow co-workers to monitor his health, and when the character moves into depressurized areas, a readout on his back displays his remaining seconds of oxygen. All sound is removed from gameplay during these segments save those which would be transferred to the character's ears by the vibrations of his RIG, such as rounds fired from his weapon. Since the menus are diegetic, opening them does not pause gameplay.

The character's RIG can be outfitted with two special abilities for use in combat and puzzle-solving. The "Kinesis" module allows the character to retrieve, levitate and transport objects, often heavier or more distant ones than could be accessed normally. These objects may also be expelled at high speed for use as improvised projectiles. The "Stasis" module causes its target to undergo an extreme slowdown for a short period of time, allowing characters to dart through rapidly moving obstacles such as fan blades, or hinder onrushing enemies. The RIG also has a slot-based inventory for carrying weapons, ammunition, healing items and other objects.

Gunplay is influenced by the franchise's antagonists. Because Necromorphs are re-animated and re-purposed corpses, lacking dependence on nervous, respiratory and circulatory systems, the conventions of stopping power are largely irrelevant to them. Thus, instead of targeting foes' heads or center of mass, players are encouraged to engage in "strategic dismemberment" by shooting off their arms and legs. Some Necromorphs can be easily defeated in this manner, but others may change attack patterns or even spawn entirely new enemies when slain. Relatedly, the game's weapons are characterized as being repurposed power tools[1] or mining implements, such as plasma cutters, rotary saws and gravitic repulsion tools, though an increasing amount of dedicated military ordnance becomes available as the franchise progresses. Ammunition tends to be uncommon, thus necessitating careful usage of the tools at hand.

In the first two games, RIGs and weapons can be upgraded at bench workstations. Players can also visit vending machines to buy or sell items for in-game currency, and upload new schematics to those stores in order to unlock new items. This was changed in the third installment, where the store was scrapped entirely; new "Suit Kiosks" allow the player to upgrade their RIG, and bench functionality was expanded to allow players to craft their own weapons, often by cobbling together parts and resources scavenged through gameplay.

Each type of necromorph has a unique way of slaying the player character, customized to whatever claws, blades, fangs or probosces they happen to possess.



The Dead Space games are set in the future, where humanity has been able to colonize other planets. By the 23rd century, humanity has used up most of Earth's natural resources, and the world governing body, EarthGov, has fleets of "planet crackers", giant mining spaceships that harvest resources by breaking apart other planets, to gather materials for humanity to sustain itself.

During the 23rd century, EarthGov researchers find an alien artifact in the Chicxulub crater, which they call the Marker. The Marker emits a persistent electromagnetic field from seemingly no source, which researchers believe could be used to provide limitless energy and solve Earth's ecological crisis. Work begins to reverse engineer the Marker on various research stations across the colonies, but they are forced to use bismuth instead of an unidentified alien material, resulting in these duplicates being colored red instead of black as the original.

The project was highly classified, but the lead researcher Michael Altman leaks its existence to the world. EarthGov assassinates Altman hoping to quell the news, but it is too late: Altman is seen as a martyr, and his belief of what the Marker means for humanity form the basis of a new cult-like religion, Unitology, that rapidly spreads across Earth and the colonies. Followers of Unitology believe that the Markers will help to unify humanity, as to "make us whole", in an event known as Convergence.

Too late, the EarthGov researchers discover that the electromagnetic fields sent by the Marker and its duplicates cause living people to suffer paranoia and hallucinations, while also causing the dead to reanimate, becoming "necromorphs,” biological monstrosities which rise to attack the living. EarthGov immediately terminates the Marker project and abandons all research stations where the work had been done, covering up their locations, knowing as they did that the Followers of Unitology would desperately want to seek these Markers out in order to advance their beliefs and bring about Convergence.


The first Dead Space takes place in the 26th century. Systems engineer Isaac Clarke is part of a rescue team called to the USG Ishimura, a planet-cracker mining Aegis VII which had gone radio-silent. Their ship suffers damage while trying to dock, and while the rest of the crew looks for a means to leave Ishimura, Clarke explores the ship, looking for his girlfriend Nicole who had been stationed aboard it. The ship is full of necromorphs, and he fights through them, discovering that the Ishimura had found a Red Marker buried near an abandoned colony on Aegis VII. The Ishimura captain, a devout Unitologist, ordered his crew to bring the Marker aboard the Ishimura, causing the crew to become paranoid, turn on each other, and leading to the necromorph invasion. Clarke himself starts having visions of Nicole, who guides him to return the Marker to the planet. Ultimately, it is revealed that one of the rescue team members, Kendra Daniels, was secretly instructed by EarthGov to retrieve the Red Marker, and she betrays and kills off the rest of the rescue team. Clarke discovers that the necromorphs were being controlled by a "Hive Mind" on Aegis VII who wants the Marker for itself. The Hive Mind kills Daniels when she tries to take the Marker back, while Clarke defeats the Hive Mind and flees in a shuttle. En route back to Earth, he experiences a hallucination of being attacked by a reanimated Nicole, showing the influence of the Marker on Isaac is still there and will continue to haunt him for the foreseeable future.

Dead Space 2 takes place three years after the first game. Clarke wakes up aboard the Sprawl, a space station in orbit around what is left of Titan after being mined by humanity. His shuttle, along with the Ishimura, had been recovered by EarthGov and taken here. He and Nolan Stross (the protagonist of Dead Space: Aftermath) are patients in a mental hospital aboard the Sprawl but escape as the station is in the midst of a necromorph invasion. They learn that they both had alien codes implanted in their brains by their respective contacts with the Markers, and the Sprawl Director, Hans Tiedemann, under direction from EarthGov, has used this information to construct a Marker aboard the Sprawl, which allowed this infestation to occur. Stross eventually is too overcome by dementia that Clarke is forced to kill him, but not before learning from him where Tiedemann's Marker can be found; his visions of Nicole continue, and she further instructs him what to do when he gets there. Clarke eventually defeats Tiedemann and makes contact with the Marker. The Marker mentally tries to have Clarke complete Convergence by linking with his mind, but Clarke fights back to remove the Marker's imprints within his mind. The Marker goes dead, and Clarke escapes with the help of Ellie Langford, a pilot that aided his fight, before the Sprawl explodes.

Dead Space 3 occurs a few years later. While Clarke and Langford returned to Earth and dated for a while, their relationship fell apart. As Clarke is struggling with the breakup in his apartment on the moon, Unitologists led by Jacob Danik activates a Marker near the colony, causing a necromorph outbreak. Clarke is rescued by EarthGov soldiers led by John Carver and enlisted to help relocate Langford, who had traveled to Tau Volantis, one of Earth's oldest off-world colonies. They manage to find her ship, the CMS Roanoke, and after a harrowing collision with a debris field, Clarke and the EarthGov soldiers make it aboard. Clarke clears the ship of necromorphs to find Langford and the remains of her crew still alive. They learn that Tau Volantis is the Marker homeworld, and that previous efforts have been made to find a Machine along with a Codex that can control this machine. Travelling to the planet's surface, pursued by Danik and Unitology-aligned soldiers, Clarke, Langford, and Carver discover an alien that contains the Machine, and that the planet's moon is actually a giant necromorph, kept asleep by the transmission of the Machine. By using the Codex, one can turn the Machine off, which will wake the necromorph via the signals sent by the Markers and initiate Convergence, where it will absorb the city and seek others to absorb into itself. Danik manages to deactivate the Machine but is killed as the city is pulled off the planet towards the necromorph. Clarke and Carver reactivate the Machine and deactivate all the Markers, while Langford manages to escape safely. In the Awakened DLC, Clarke and Carver, who survived the battle against the Brethren Moon, discover that the Brethren Moons are on course to Earth and arrive there just as the planet is being attacked. One of the Moons crashes into their ship, leaving their fates unknown.


Main seriesEdit

Title Details

Original release date(s):[2]
Release years by system:
2008: Xbox 360,[4][6] PlayStation 3,[2][6] Microsoft Windows[5][6]
  • The first video game of the Dead Space series.
  • The Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows versions were not released in Asia.[4][5]

Original release date(s):[7]
  • NA: January 25, 2011
  • AU: January 27, 2011
  • EU: January 28, 2011
Release years by system:
2011: Microsoft Windows,[8] Xbox 360,[8] PlayStation 3[8]

Original release date(s):[9]
  • NA: February 5, 2013
  • AU: February 7, 2013
  • EU: February 8, 2013
Release years by system:
2013: Microsoft Windows,[10] Xbox 360,[10] PlayStation 3[10]
  • A sequel to Dead Space 2[8] and the third installment in the Dead Space series.[8]


Title Details

Original release date(s):[11]
  • AU: September 24, 2009
  • EU: September 25, 2009
  • NA: September 29, 2009[12]
  • JP: October 1, 2009
  • NA: January 25, 2011 (PS3)[13]
Release years by system:
2009: Wii[12][11]
2011: PlayStation 3[13]

Original release date(s):[15]
  • NA: October 12, 2010
  • EU: October 13, 2010
  • AU: October 13, 2010
Release years by system:
2010: Xbox 360,[15] PlayStation 3[15]
  • Prequel to Dead Space 2
  • Available via PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade

Original release date(s):[16][17]
  • NA: January 25, 2011 (iOS)
  • EU: March 22, 2011 (iOS)
Release years by system:
2011: iOS,[16] Android[17], BlackBerry PlayBook
2013: BlackBerry 10
  • Set between the first and second games in the main series. Unlike prior spin-offs, it features survival horror gameplay similar to the main series.
  • Developed by IronMonkey Studios, under supervision from Visceral Games.
  • Was pulled from mobile stores, and is either not compatible or has compatibility issues with current mobile operating systems.

Development historyEdit

Electronic Arts (EA) Redwood Shores had developed a number of movie and tie-in games, though they desired to make their own intellectual property. Around 2005, the studio presented the idea of making a second sequel to System Shock to EA executives but had not gotten much support, until the release of Resident Evil 4 in 2005 which quickly became a top-selling title. That success led them to revise their System Shock concept, making it more a horror-driven game set in space, and which EA was more open to as to try to capture a similar type of success. The subsequent game became Dead Space, released in 2008.[18] Dead Space did well, leading EA to have Redwood Shores to become a "genre" studio, rebranding them as Visceral Games in 2009.[19]

While Visceral tried to recreate a similar experience with Dante's Inferno, the title did not perform as well, and EA instead has Visceral return to make the sequel Dead Space 2, released in 2011.[20] While it was critically well-received, the title was said to have not performed well financially due to a large development budget.[21][20] EA had Visceral continue to make Dead Space 3, but asked the studio to make key changes to draw more people to the title, such as adding co-op and introducing game play elements to help make the title faster, an aspect in direct conflict with the slow pacing of survivor-horror games. Dead Space 3 was released in 2013, with generally positive reviews but did not sell well.[20]

Visceral had planned out ideas for a fourth Dead Space game, but at that point EA transitioned the studio to work on other existing projects, shelving the series to an end after the developer's closure in October 2017.[20] According to former creative director Ben Wanat, their idea of Dead Space 4 was based on concepts from the flotilla section in Dead Space 3, where the player would need to go from the remnants of dead starships to collect parts needed to allow their own craft to survivor and gain faster-than-light travel abilities to get to a new system. The game would have been a hybrid between non-linear and linear storytelling: while the order of star systems the player visited would have been set by the game, how they proceeded within each system would have been more open. They had been also considering switching from Isaac to Ellie as the protagonist for the game.[22]


Isaac ClarkeEdit

Isaac Clarke is the main protagonist of the Dead Space series. Originally a ship system engineer, his life changes for the worse when a seemingly-routine repair mission becomes a struggle to survive the Necromorph scourge. Clarke originally chose the mission to make contact with his girlfriend who was stationed on the damaged vessel. Clarke is named after science fiction authors Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. He is silent in the original game and modeled after actor Gunner Wright,[1] but is voiced by Wright in the sequels.

Nicole BrennanEdit

Nicole is a medical officer aboard the USG Ishimura and Isaac's girlfriend. She appears at Isaac's side at times of struggle, but later logs reveal that she committed suicide long before Isaac arrived; her appearances have actually been hallucinations created by the Markers with the intent of manipulating Isaac into furthering their agenda. She appears in a similar guise over the course of the second game, serving as a sympathetic antagonist. She is voiced by Iyari Limon in the first game and Tanya Clarke in the second.

Nolan StrossEdit

Nolan Stross appears in Dead Space 2 and was one of the protagonists in the animated feature Dead Space: Aftermath. Stross was once a high-ranking scientist but suffered from dementia after coming into contact with the Red Marker, and was placed in a psychiatric ward of a hospital on Titan Station. Clarke meets Stross in this area.[23] Like Clarke, the character is named after two science fiction authors, in this case William F. Nolan and Charles Stross. While he and Clarke attempt to band together to destroy the Marker causing the events of the second game, his madness gets the better of him and Isaac is forced to kill him. He is voiced by Curt Cornelius.

Ellie LangfordEdit

Ellie is a major non-player character in Dead Space 2 and 3. In the first sequel, she and Isaac work together to escape the Titan Sprawl, and between the two games, they begin a romance. However, by the time of the second sequel they have separated, partially because Isaac is hesitant to wager his life stopping the Markers. Ellie, with the help of Earth Defense Force Captain Robert Norton, discovers evidence that the planet Tau Volantis is the Marker homeworld; she sends Norton to recruit Isaac, kicking off the events of the third game. She is voiced by and modeled after actress Sonita Henry.[24]

John CarverEdit

Sgt. John Carver, Earth Defense Force, is a character in Dead Space 3, and the protagonist of the tie-in graphic novel Dead Space: Liberation. The graphic novel depicts his past as a loyal EarthGov soldier with troubled home life. Damara and Dylan, his wife and son, are killed by Dead Space 3 antagonist Jacob Danik, and Carver joins forces with Ellie Langford to prevent Danik from triggering Convergence. He is voiced by and modeled after Ricardo Chavira.

Under normal circumstances, Carver is a non-player character, dispensing advice and guidance to Clarke but not assisting in gameplay. However, Dead Space 3 features "drop-in drop-out" co-operative multiplayer: the game's single-player campaign can at any time become a co-operative experience if a second player joins via Xbox Live or other networking services. If a second player does join, Carver is that player's in-game character; as such, he can be seamlessly written in and out of the campaign at any time to facilitate the presence (or absence) of said other player. Additionally, if a second player is present, side missions become available that deal with Carver's guilt concerning the way he treated his family, as well as over their deaths.


During development for Dead Space, EA Redwood Shores (now Visceral Games) gave Isaac a portmanteau name from the science fiction writers Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.[25] Isaac's parents Poul and Octavia take their names from science fiction authors Poul Anderson and Octavia Butler. During development for Dead Space 2, Visceral Games decided to give Isaac a voice and chose Gunner Wright.[26][27][28][29][30] As Wright's performance was motion captured this influenced Clarke's appearance and movement in the game.[31]


The Dead Space series has received positive critical and commercial success.

The character Isaac Clarke received mostly positive reviews from critics. PlayStation Universe described him as a "corpse-slaying badass," saying: "starting off as the mute hero of the original Dead Space, Clarke was finally given a voice and personality in the sequel, becoming a standout character in his own right". They added: "his willingness to help others and strong morals makes him an ideal partner", and stated his best characteristic to survive is his adaptability.[32] GamesRadar ranked Isaac, who has "a cool demeanor, and an even cooler suit of futuristic armor," as the 22nd "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in games,[33] also including him in other three "Top 7:" at the fourth place in their list of "The Top 7... Mentally damaged characters we love;"[34] as the sixth most badass game character of the generation (as of 2012),[35] and his romance with Nicole Brennan was ranked as the fifth most disastrous in video games.[36] GamesRadar further placed him at number 30 in a list of the 50 best game characters of the generation.[37] Isaac was featured as one of the characters IGN would like to see in an ultimate fighting game, adding "He may lack the pizzazz of some other fighters on this list, but try making fun of him when he holds a space-age nail gun to your forehead."[38] In 2013, Complex ranked him as the sixteenth most badass character in video game history.[39] In addition, his helmet was listed by UGO Networks at six in "The Coolest Helmets and Headgear in Video Games" list.[40] Although Clarke ultimately did not make the cut, Game Informer staff considered his inclusion in their "30 characters that defined a decade" collection, with Ben Reeves saying, "Not only does Isaac manage to combat his own battered subconscious, but he ends up saving the universe from the spread of a deadly alien menace. That’s a true definition of hero in my book."[41]


A central theme in the games is the fictional antagonistic cult religion Unitology. Its members are fanatical followers of Michael Altman, who they claim leaked information that the Earth's government was suppressing about the alien artifact called the Marker. Their primary goal is to use this Marker to bring about the so-called "convergence" or "unification". Unitologists believe that human life may have come from space, and that by worshipping the Marker they can achieve eternal life.

According to the developers, the fictional religion is supposed to represent people's illogical thinking about things they don't understand, such as the Marker and the necromorphs. Unitology has been confirmed to have its own scripture of some kind. While it is not meant as criticism of religion itself, it draws on the falsehoods and corruption that may be hidden inside one.[42]

Many players and critics have drawn comparisons between the fictional Unitology and the real-world Scientology: both have science-fiction influences, collected large funds from their members, consist of multiple ranks within their system which determine access to certain information, and host a large number of influential followers such as CEOs and celebrities. The developers have stated that these comparisons are simply meant to portray it as a secretive cult, with the name similarity causing unfortunate implications.[43][44]

Related mediaEdit


Title Details

Original release date(s):[45]
Release years by system:
2008: Film festival (United Kingdom only),[45] DVD,[48][46] BD[49][47]
  • Takes place at the same time as Extraction and before the original Dead Space.

Original release date(s):[50]
Release years by system:
DVD,[51] BD[52]
  • Takes place between Dead Space and Dead Space 2
  • Aftermath centers on the Aegis VII disaster and explores how the Government sends an unwitting crew of people to get exposed to Marker shards. The Government is secretly trying to produce a viable “Marker blueprint” carrier, no matter the costs.[53]


Title Details

  • USA: March 3, 2008
Comic book[54][55][56]

  • USA: July 20, 2010
Paperback [58]
  • A novel written by B. K. Evenson, set roughly 200 years before Dead Space. It tells the story of geophysicist Michael Altman, who discovers a mysterious signal within the Chicxulub crater and after secretly obtaining a piece of the Marker, leaks it to the public and spreads the visions he received from it. He becomes the unwilling "prophet" of the Marker, marking the beginning of Unitology.

  • USA: November 24, 2010
– Comic book [59]
  • A comic book written by Antony Johnston, illustrated by Christopher Shy and published by IDW Publishing
  • Tells the story of the Magpies, who discover an abandoned mining ship, the USG Ishimura. Their luck turns into a catastrophe as they realize they are in the middle of a living nightmare.[53]
Dead Space: Catalyst

  • USA: October 2, 2012
  • A novel written by B. K. Evenson, set two hundred and fifty years in the future after the events of Dead Space Martyr, extinction threatens mankind. Tampering with dangerous technology from the Black Marker—an ancient alien artifact discovered on Earth eighty years earlier—Earthgov hopes to save humanity.
Dead Space: Liberation

  • USA: February 5, 2013
– Comic book [60]
  • A comic book written by Ian Edginton, illustrated by Christopher Shy and published by Titan Books
  • Tells the story of an Earthgov Sergeant, John Carver, whose wife and son are attacked by fanatics trying to liberate the Marker site where she works.

Music albumsEdit

Title Release date Length Label Source
Dead Space Original Soundtrack November 11, 2008 1:01:07 Electronic Arts [61][62]
Dead Space 2 Original Videogame Score January 25, 2011 1:00:22 Electronic Arts [63][64]
Dead Space 2 Collector's Edition Original Soundtrack January 25, 2011 Electronic Arts [65][66]

Film adaptationEdit

In 2013 filmmaker John Carpenter stated he was interested in making a Dead Space film.[67] EA also spoke of their plans in 2013 to adapt the Dead Space videogames into a potential film franchise.[68]

See alsoEdit


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  3. ^ " Website Designing Company Meerut". Archived from the original on May 4, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
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  12. ^ a b "Release Information for Dead Space: Extraction". MobyGames. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
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  33. ^ "100 best heroes in video games". GamesRadar. November 9, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  34. ^ Cooper, Hollander (June 23, 2012). "The Top 7... Mentally damaged characters we love". GamesRadar. p. 2. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  35. ^ Cooper, Hollander (September 28, 2012). "The Top 7... Most badass game characters of the generation". GamesRadar. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  36. ^ Meikleham, Dave (June 23, 2012). "The Top 7... disastrous game romances". GamesRadar. p. 2. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  37. ^ "Best game characters of the generation". GamesRadar. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  38. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (October 15, 2008). "Players Wanted: Ultimate Fighting Game, Part 2". IGN. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
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  41. ^ Bertz, Matt (November 19, 2010). "The Snubbed List". Game Informer. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  42. ^ How to create an entire religion, IGN
  43. ^ L. Ron Altman: Why Dead Space 2 is a direct attack on Scientology, Ars Technica
  44. ^ 'Dead Space 2' Creative Director on the Unitology vs. Scientology debate, MTV
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  67. ^ Karmali, Luke. "John Carpenter Wants to Make a Dead Space Film". IGN.
  68. ^ Graser, Marc (July 18, 2013). "'Dead Space' Movie Alive and Kicking at Electronic Arts". Variety.

External linksEdit