- "Dead Space Ignition is an all-new downloadable game that takes place on the Sprawl and challenges players to survive the initial Necromorph outbreak."
- —Description on EA.com
It is a prequel to the survival horror video game Dead Space 2 which was released on January 25, 2011. The game took the form of what executive producer Steve Papoutsis described as an "interactive comic-style game" and is written by Antony Johnston, the writer for the Dead Space games and comic book series.
After completing the game, players will receive bonus items for Dead Space 2 including a hacker-themed suit with 15% armor and 15 inventory slots as well as a bonus to the hacking portions of the game. Players also received a hacker-themed Contact Beam weapon, extra power nodes, health packs, ammo and audio logs. These bonuses are found in "conduit rooms" unlocked with a Dead Space: Ignition save file.
The game takes place three years after the events of Dead Space, in 2511, and hours before the events of Dead Space 2 start to unfold.
- Franco Delille - A technician working aboard the Sprawl.
- Sarah Andarsyn - A CPD Officer and Franco's assistant and love interest.
- Weaver - Franco's superior.
The game opens with Franco repairing his personal terminal before his work shift begins. Franco's boss, Weaver, orders him to head to the CEC Facility in order to repair a malfunctioned door. CPD Officer Sarah Andarsyn agrees to come with him, as she warns that things on The Sprawl have been tense lately, for unknown reasons.
Arriving at the CEC facility and assessing the damage, both the CEC supervisor and Franco agree that the door appears to have been sabotaged, instead of merely malfunctioning. After fixing the door, they repair a computer problem for the CEC supervisor's friend. Both Franco and Sarah find with some concern that the computer systems appeared to have been corrupted with a virus; sabotaged like the door. Franco's boss then messages him, announcing that they need to repair a solar panel outside The Sprawl - meaning a space walk is required, which Franco despises. Nevertheless, the two repair the panel. However, when they return to the outer door, a loud rumble is heard and a computer in the room announces that a meteor strike has breached the air seal, requiring they make a hasty exit.
Franco's boss contacts them and announces something very bad happened during the time they were repairing the solar panel. An "outbreak" of sorts has occurred, but Franco's boss does not specify what kind of outbreak he is referring to as a result of little information. Franco receives a message on a personal device, only reading "READY TO RISE". Franco says it is a wrong number when Sarah asks. The duo decide to head to a tram station to await further directions.
While lounging in the tram station, Sarah hears an odd noise in the distance. A crowd of people suddenly stampede into the tram station from a hallway across from them, loud roaring noises coming from behind them. Both of them watch in shock as a humanoid monster suddenly impales a man at the back of the stampede. As the creature advances at Sarah, she attempts to shoot it to death to no avail. She's knocked over by a crowd of people and finds a fallen Plasma Cutter on the floor. She uses the tool to tear the creature apart. Several more creatures then appear from the same hallway, forcing Franco, Sarah and the remaining tram station survivors to board a tram as the station is overrun.
Franco's boss calls him back to warn him he is now aware of the danger and that the creatures are popping up all over the station. Franco's boss orders him to head to a public sector and repair a lighting failure to help security fight off the creatures, Sarah receives a call from an old partner to help with a hostage situation.
At this point in the game, the player is given a branching paths option: players can choose which repair on the Sprawl they want to follow from the two options presented, each one with exclusive cinematics. Two more repair options occur after the player completes that repair, resulting in four possible paths through the game. All four paths result in Sarah's death and the same ending.
- Lighting Failure: As Franco and Sarah arrive, they find themselves forced to walk through the pitch blackness. Franco says he needs to go to the Sector Powerhub, which, unfortunately, would be quicker to reach by going through a maintenance ventilation shaft. Sarah refuses, afraid of getting lost, but warms up to the idea after when they discover that the creatures have already reached the deck they are on.
- In the vents, they discover that the creatures are traveling in the ventilation systems, but it is too late to turn back. Eventually, they reach an exit, leading to the Church of Unitology. A minister greets them; Franco tells him that there is a security situation throughout The Sprawl, and asks if the church can be barricaded. The minister asks if that is why their engineer hasn't arrived, saying they need one to check their security measures over an hour ago. Franco asks what the problem is. The minister explains that a mausoleum is where the dead are cryogenically stored to prepare for the next life. Sarah is disgusted, but Franco says she should see one sometime.
- Sarah explores the mausoleum as Franco re-installs the church's security measures. The minister asks for one more thing. Sarah returns, not feeling any better about the church's ways. Franco runs a final check before the duo departs. The duo find a massive crowd near the power hub. As they make their way through, blood begins to spray up from the crowd, meaning the creatures have found them. Franco manages to turn the power back on, but by that time, the creatures have fled and the entire crowd has been reduced to pieces. Franco believes they are heading in circles. Now only concerned for their own survival, Franco suggests they go to the hospital, saying that that is where survivors will meet up when Sarah asks. Sarah says that they could take the direct route to the hospital which would result in running into many more creatures. In contrast, the inverted part of the city would take longer but has no report of monsters.
- Direct Route: Franco and Sarah decide to make their way through the direct route to the hospital as quick as possible, KNOWING they will not last long if the creatures find their way to the public sector. As they reach a clinic, they find it in poor condition, suggesting the creatures may have already broken in. The inside does not look any better, with blood and bodies everywhere. Sarah finds a room with a window, where several staff members are hiding. Franco finds the lock pad to the room torn out.
- After hacking the door open, they attempt to lead the room's inhabitants to safety. One survivor says there is a medivac on the roof that can fit all of them, which they agree to. On the room, Franco is dismayed to find that the medivac has been sabotaged by one of the creatures tearing out the wiring. They are then ambushed by a group of Pack Necromorphs. Franco manages to fix the wiring and tells the survivor from behind to start the medivac. Outside the medivac, Sarah is surrounded by the Pack before she can make her way inside. One of them bites her leg, causing her to fall and allowing the group to completely eviscerate her. Franco is held back as the medivac takes off. He receives a personal message reading "HE AWAITS". After landing on the hospital, Franco leaves the survivors to enter the hospital.
- Cross the Rim: Franco and Sarah take a maintenance elevator towards the inverted city, but are stopped by two other engineers waving desperately to get their attention. In another apparent act of sabotage, the failsafes on the artificial gravity generator have been overridden, causing Sarah to panic at the thought of those creatures unrestrained by gravity. Franco quickly patches the system with a temporary solution, and they continue to the inverted city. However, the other side of the station is unnaturally quiet and lifeless. They come across a school and venture inside, finding only mangled bodies. When Sarah sees that the panic room has been sealed, she demands that Franco open it in case there are children within. He reluctantly agrees, only to find a Necromorph within and a room full of butchered children.
- After describing the situation to Weaver, the officer demands that they seal off the school so that no one knows what's happened, in order to prevent a full scale panic. After complying, Franco receives a message reading "HE AWAITS". Franco immediately suggests that they take the vents instead of the tram, and Sarah is on the point of disagreeing when their hand is forced by a Stalker-like necromorph. Weaver then orders them to head to level nineteen, but is cut off when Franco clicks off his earpiece. Sarah confronts him with his strange behavior and demands to know what's going on, he refuses to answer. She exasperatedly asks which way they're going next. Franco points her to a hatch. As she starts climbing, he shoots her in the back, and tearfully tells her that he can't be delayed anymore before putting the barrel against her forehead and pulling the trigger. He continues on his way to the hospital alone, saying that maybe she'll understand in the next life.
- Hostage Situation: As Franco and Sarah arrive, they find out a man is holding his wife and kids hostage. He's secured himself in a room saying hysterically that he believes the government is spying on him and wants them to stop. Sarah's old partner, Hodgkens, figures that they can't barge in because the man is watching them and he'll know if they make a move. Franco stops the man from being able to see anything and unlocks the door. The police go in and kill him.
- After the hostage situation, Franco and Sarah get to higher ground using an elevator. Weaver calls and tells Franco to quarantine the lower sectors which shocks both him and Sarah. Franco doesn't want to do it because people are down there, but Sarah reluctantly convinces him that it came from a higher power and that losing 10% of the population is better than everyone. After Franco quarantines the lower sectors, Sarah suggests they go to the outer rim as security may have ordered an evacuation. They head towards there, but realize after fifteen minutes that they haven't seen anyone. A Slasher breaks through a ceiling vent, and Sarah kills it. Franco realizes that they move about using vents and that quarantine locks are useless.
- Franco says they should head toward the hospital because he believes that it's the first place they'll pick up evacuees. Weaver calls again and says that they need to go out to the bubble because a life support power machine is down. Sarah says they could do that and spacewalk to the hospital, or forget it and just take the interior route to the hospital. Franco is vexed on what to do.
- Spacewalk: Franco and Sarah decide to spacewalk the rest of the way to hospital. Sarah reassures the still hesitant Franco that she'll watch his back. Once the outer doors open, Franco heads out to repair the power repeater. As soon as he finishes a Slasher attacks them. Sarah quickly dispatches it, but not before it damages her RIG's oxygen storage. Franco tapes and hacks her RIG to regulate the airflow to keep her from suffocating long enough for them to get back inside.
- They head off to the nearest airlock, but upon reaching airlock 87, they find that is locked down. Franco radios Weaver and asks him to open it but he apologizes and refuses, saying that he wasn't authorized. Franco then proceeds to hack the door, Sarah however suffocates before he's done. Franco drags her inside and tries to revive her with CPR, but it's too late. He then receives another message on his personal device reading "HE AWAITS". Weaver radios Franco, telling him to return to the public sectors to repair the fire extinguisher systems. Franco refuses and vows revenge on Weaver before destroying his radio. He then proceeds alone to the hospital.
- Interior Route: Franco and Sarah decide to head straight to the hospital. They enter a hallway filled with smoke and bodies everywhere. However, Sarah checks their pulses and finds that they are simply unconscious from smoke inhalation. Franco fixes the venting system, allowing the smoke to vent out of the room and the unconscious survivors to awaken, and allowing the duo to press on. On the way to the hospital, Franco receives another message on his personal device reading "HE AWAITS". Franco dismisses it when Sarah inquires about it again, causing her to become suspicious.
- Suddenly, creatures attack from the ventilation shafts. Franco and Sarah flee to a locked door, which Franco hacks open while Sarah holds the creatures off. As Franco finishes hacking the door, he looks behind him at Sarah, ashamed. As Sarah turns to check his progress, she finds the door closing with Franco on the other side, telling her that he is sorry. Sarah begs him to open the door as the creatures close in, but Franco says she can't come with him and she'll understand "in the next life". Sarah's cries for help turn to screams as the creatures tear her to pieces.
Franco makes his way through the hospital, which has been deserted. He hacks his way into the Psyche Development center, and then enters the Psychiatric Ward. Inside are what appear to be cryogenic holding cells. He approaches one and says "There you are at last". Franco says that he feels his whole life has led up to this moment, and prepares to release the inhabitant. After endless hacking, Franco succeeds and says "That's it. You're a free man". The final shot of the security cam of the cell reveals the name of the man in the holding cell he has just unlocked, Patient #4: Isaac Clarke.
The gameplay consists of a collection of three mini game varieties.
- Hardware Crack - The game begins by showing a circuit board full of capacitors and resistors. The object is to guide the lasers to their respective colored goals. The player has at their disposal mirrors and rerouters. They also have the ability to remove certain components from the circuit board. There are also capacitors that, if exposed to a laser for an extended period of time, explode, knocking loose any other capacitors, player added or not. Sometimes, when there's a yellow goal, the player must use a rerouter differently than normal. They must put one red laser and one green laser into the same rerouter, which puts out a yellow laser.
- System Override - A tower defense game that puts the player in the role of the attacker. There are four types of viruses at the player's disposal. The basic attacking virus, the sidetracking virus, the stealth virus, and the infecting virus. The defenders are anti-virus systems. When exposed to an attacking virus, they attack it while being attacked. When exposed to a sidetracking virus, they momentarily cease attacking. When exposed to a stealth virus, they do nothing, unless the "radar" anti-viruses catch the stealth viruses, in which case the normal anti-viruses attack like normal. When exposed to an infecting virus, however, normal anti-virus systems start attacking other anti-virus systems instead of the viruses the player is controlling. The player is also given up to two electro-charges to fire at the board, destroying the tile targeted as well as the six surrounding it.
- Trace Route - The player is in control of a red line - a virus - and they need to infiltrate the computer system in question. There are many types of defenses. The countermeasures: A white anti-virus, a purple anti-virus, a green anti-virus, and a yellow anti-virus. And the obstacles: Data blocks, firewalls, Data libraries, and DDos data systems. Data blocks slow your progress, as do firewalls. Data libraries give you a temporary speed boost. These are the only obstacles you shouldn't avoid. DDos data blocks temporarily invert the controls. The player carries up to five of each of these obstacles to use on the countermeasures, except data blocks.The white anti-virus is the standard opponent, the purple anti-viruses install new firewalls and DDos systems, the green anti-virus knocks the player into data blocks, and the yellow anti-virus rams the player and produces the same effect as a DDos data system.
Upon completing the first hack and saving your progress in Ignition, players are given the following:
- Exclusive Hacker Suit.
- Hacker-themed Contact Beam weapon skin.
- Exclusive audio logs.
- Power Nodes, Med Packs, and Credits to give Isaac an edge during Dead Space 2.
- Conduit rooms in Dead Space 2, otherwise inaccessible, become unlocked.