"Dead Space" redirects here. For the mobile game, see Dead Space (mobile).

"Only the Dead Survive. A massive deep-space mining ship goes dark after unearthing a strange artifact on a distant planet. Engineer Isaac Clarke embarks on the repair mission, only to uncover a nightmarish blood bath — the ship's crew horribly slaughtered and infected by alien scourge."
Dead Space description on Steam.

Dead Space is a third-person survival horror video game, developed by EA Redwood Shores (now known as Visceral Games) for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows. It is the first installment in the Dead Space series and was released on October 14, 2008 on PS3 and Xbox 360 and October 20 for Windows. The player takes on the role of an engineer named Isaac Clarke, who battles the polymorphic undead species called the "Necromorphs" on board a stricken interstellar mining ship named The USG Ishimura.


Backstory and Setting

Dead Space is set in 2508[note 1]. Earth has been through an extinction-level event, caused by rapacious and unsustainable use of resources. The remaining humans realized that the only way to gain the resources to survive would be to search new planets for resources. That's where the Concordance Extraction Corporation comes in. At a time of near-desperation, the CEC engineered the ship that would eventually save all of humanity: The USG Ishimura.

The USG Ishimura was a ship designed for the new resource-gathering practice: Planetcracking. The Ishimura's job was to mine other planets for their most rare and most valuable resources to take back to Earth. Even though there have been subsequent Planetcrackers (a small fleet now exists), the Ishimura remains the iconic symbol of mankind's will to survive, even after all these decades. Thanks to Planetcracking, mankind is now thriving again, and resources are plentiful. By the time of the game, the Ishimura has performed 34 successful planetcracks, and is now in the process of beginning its 35th. However, the events that take place during this planet crack are events that threaten the very survival of mankind.


  • Isaac Clarke - The main character and protagonist of the game. Isaac is a ship system specialist and an engineer traveling aboard the shuttle Kellion to investigate and repair the USG Ishimura, accompanied by three security personnel and a computer specialist. Unfortunately for them, they are thrust into the middle of the nightmare that the Ishimura has become. Clarke is also trying to find his girlfriend, Nicole, a senior medical officer assigned to the ship, whose fate is unknown at the start of the game. Throughout the game, Isaac stumbles across a conspiracy involving the Church of Unitology, the government and a realm of possibilities.
  • Kendra Daniels - Kendra is a technologist and part of the team sent aboard the Ishimura to repair communication systems. She helps the player through the Ishimura in many ways, giving directions and assisting through areas of the ship that would otherwise be inaccessible. She frequently expresses distrust of Hammond, but turns out to know more about the situation than anyone previously thought.
  • Zach Hammond - The senior security officer on board the Kellion who travels with both Isaac and Kendra to the Ishimura. Hammond's initial desire to complete the original mission and not immediately abort puts him at odds with Kendra, who finds this suspicious. Throughout the game, he works to fulfill their original mission and repair the Ishimura, but as time goes on, he becomes more disillusioned and focuses instead on getting himself and the rest of the surviving team off the ship.
  • Challus Mercer - A doctor aboard the USG Ishimura, a devout Unitologist and one of the main antagonists of Dead Space. In the wake of the calamity that has gripped the Ishimura, Mercer has gone completely insane, surrendering completely to religious fanaticism, and attempting to convince the crew of the Ishimura to commit mass suicide. Mercer often works to bar the progress of Isaac and even attempts to kill him outright, sending a regenerating Necromorph he created himself, the Hunter, after Isaac several times throughout the course of the game. To Mercer, everything that has happened is God's will; he believes the Necromorphs are the natural successors to humanity, and that their emergence from corpses represents life after death. Mercer insists repeatedly that Isaac should die and allow "God's children" to take over.
  • Terrence Kyne - The Chief Science Officer of the Ishimura who appears later in the game and asks for help from the surviving members of the Kellion team. He seems to be a bit eccentric, perhaps deranged, but offers to aid Isaac in stopping the nightmare that has gripped the Aegis System and the Ishimura. Kyne attempted to relieve Captain Mathius of duty during the crisis on the ship, but instead seems to have been complicit in the captain's death either in whole or in part. He regularly interacts with his dead wife, an apparition caused by the Marker that can't be seen by the player.
  • Nicole Brennan - Isaac's girlfriend and a medical specialist assigned to the Ishimura. The game starts with a video from Nicole, asking for help after the ship's infestation, establishing one of Clarke's reasons for coming to the Ishimura. He gets nightmares about Nicole as well.
  • Chen - A security officer on the USG Kellion. He is killed at the start of the game when the Necromorphs first appear.
  • Johnston - A security officer on the USG Kellion. He is killed at the start of the game when the Necromorphs first appear.
  • Jacob Temple - Chief Engineer of the Ishimura, who you hear about throughout the game via audio logs and briefly encounter later in the game. As the ship begins to fall apart, Jacob and his team attempt to repair the engine. Jacob quickly realizes that the ship's engines have been sabotaged. As the infection spreads Jacob begins to look for his girlfriend Elizabeth Cross. Jacob, against all odds, finds Elizabeth alive only for both of them to be captured and killed by Dr. Mercer before they could escape.
  • Elizabeth Cross - Jacob's girlfriend and doctor assigned to Hydroponics. As the ship begins to fall apart Elizabeth attempts to find Jacob. Against all odds, Elizabeth and Jacob find each other only to be captured and killed by Dr. Mercer before they could escape.

Plot Summary

The USG Ishimura, during the process of mining the planet of Aegis VII, sends out a distress signal to the Concordance Extraction Corporation (CEC); the CEC dispatches the USG Kellion to investigate. As the Kellion attempts to dock with the Ishimura, a malfunction occurs with the automatic docking and the Kellion is badly damaged; however the crew lands safely and sets off to find the Ishimura's crew. It quickly becomes apparent that the Ishimura has been abandoned.

As they enter the flight lounge, Isaac Clarke, the crew's engineer, enters a separate room to assess the Ishimura's damage reports. As he does so, the flight lounge locks down in quarantine and grotesque humanoids break into the lounge and attack the crew. Corporals Johnston and Chen are killed, while the two survivors of the attack, Zach Hammond and Kendra Daniels, flee and tell Isaac to run. Isaac, defenseless, is forced to run for his life through a hallway before escaping his pursuers through an elevator. Isaac manages to get a weapon and make contact through a window with Hammond and Kendra once again. Hammond recognizes that many of the ship's systems are failing, including the ships anti-asteroid defense system. The loss of this threatens the integrity of the ship due to a nearby asteroid belt. Hammond sends Clarke around the ship to fix the core systems in order to keep them alive. Hammond also promises he will help Isaac to find his girlfriend Nicole Brennan, a medical worker on the Ishimura, who sent Isaac a strange video (viewed by the player at the game's beginning), which was Isaac's sole motive for taking the mission: to visit her. After restoring USG Ishimura's tram system, Clarke returns to the flight lounge to repair the Kellion. Creatures attack the ship before he can even begin and it explodes, the wreckage plummeting to the bottom of the hangar bay.

During these treks, Clarke discovers various text and audio logs scattered throughout the ship and pieces together the events that transpired before his arrival. The ship's captain was actually an agent of the "Church of Unitology" — a large and influential religious cult — assigned to retrieve one of his religion's most deified relics, known as the "Red Marker", from Aegis VII. Aegis VII had been quarantined for undisclosed reasons by the Earth Government many years ago; however, CEC had disregarded the quarantine and performed a minerological analysis on the planet that revealed it to be extraordinarily rich in resources. While establishing a planetside colony to aid in the mineral extraction, CEC employees discovered the Red Marker, and Unitologists among the crew passed the clandestine information to the church.

The Church of Unitology and the ship's captain then quickly replaced or won over many of the ranking officers (medical, science, etc.) of the Ishimura. With the upper echelon of the ship in Unitologist hands and the records of the mining operation already made confidential due to the Aegis VII quarantine, the Unitologists had the perfect opportunity to seize the marker and use it to discover the secrets of human creation, evolution, and purpose they believed it contained.

Soon after the Marker was extracted and brought to the Ishimura, a large portion of the civilians — first on the planet-side colony, then on the ship — suffered from extreme hysteria and paranoia brought on by violent hallucinations. The medical teams in each location screened for diseases and distributed sedatives, but the agitation of the crew could not be contained for long and the outbreak of paranoia evolved into mass homicidal and suicidal impulses. These phenomena were believed to be linked to proximity to the Marker, but the colonists had no idea how or why it was occurring.

Despite this, the hysteria was kept under control, and the planet crack commenced a week later. Immediately after planet crack, the colony's power went out and unknown organisms began ravaging the colony, infecting the bodies of the dead and turning them into "Necromorphs" - abominations that kill and infect dead bodies in order to spread the infestation. When reports of this reached the Ishimura Captain Mathius cut off all traffic and communications between the ship and the colony to prevent the infection from reaching the Ishimura. Dr. Terrence Kyne, the Chief Science Officer, urged Captain Matthias to halt the extraction and send out a distress signal. Because they are in a restricted system, the Captain refuses, and becomes more and more focused on delivering the Marker to the Church, even at the expense of his crew's safety. Dr. Kyne believes this decision is irrational, and that the Captain has buckled under the psychological pressure of his loyalties to the Church and CEC.

Under maritime law, Kyne relieves the captain of his duty, though Mathius refuses to comply, spouting angry fanatical comments of heresy. Dr. Kyne then tells the Captain to hold still and attempts to inject him with a sedative. Benjamin Mathius struggles violently and is killed by Dr. Kyne in the scuffle as the syringe misses the captain's neck and is instead rammed through his eye socket.

Dr. Kyne did not appear to want to kill the captain, and the death may have been a freak accident, but it may also have been a momentary loss of control as the presence of the Marker on the ship has been causing the same homicidal paranoia as was experienced on the colony. The infection then spreads to the Ishimura via a colony shuttle piloted by a survivor, who was unaware that a Necromorph had entered his shuttle prior to take off. The shuttle crashes into the docking bay, allowing the creatures to escape into the Ishimura ventilation system and begin killing and infecting the Ishimura's inhabitants. Shortly thereafter, all of the emergency shuttles and escape pods of the Ishimura are remotely launched -all of them empty.

Furthermore, the communications array becomes damaged either by the same saboteurs or by the creatures that are beginning to rampage through the ship. In an attempt that claims her life, a member of the Ishimura security team is able to launch a single general distress beacon, which is picked up by CEC who then dispatch the repair ship Kellion. Hours later, the distress signal is picked up by the EarthGov Military, which dispatches a special operations team to deal with the suspected outbreak and perform search and rescue. When the Kellion arrives, the Ishimura has almost completely fallen to the Necromorphs.

Though Hammond states that he is unaware of what the Marker's role in everything is, Daniels confides to Clarke that she believes Hammond is lying. Clarke would later encounter his girlfriend Nicole, though they are unable to meet directly. Nicole is seen to be behaving strangely.

With the critical systems repaired, the three are able to launch a beacon for rescue, attracting a nearby military ship, the USM Valor. However, the Valor, having picked up an escape pod launched by Hammond containing a Necromorph, becomes overrun with the creatures and crashes into the ship. Hammond then deduces — from the heavy military equipment he finds on board — that the Valor was actually assigned to destroy the Ishimura, suggesting that someone outside of Aegis VII knew of the alien threat.

The group thus decides that they must find a shuttle and escape while they can. Clarke and Hammond then retrieve the Valor's power core in order to repair an available shuttle, but Hammond is killed by a Necromorph in the process. The surviving Dr. Kyne later contacts Clarke and urges him to return the Marker to Aegis VII. He reveals in a video what the planetcrack caused: a large creature known as The Hive Mind, the creature that controls all of the Necromorphs, was allowed to escape the instant the planet was cracked, and began infecting the colony. He believes that the Marker actually acted as an inhibitor, rendering the Hive Mind dormant as long as the Marker remained on the planet; the Hive Mind's dormancy would also cause all other Necromorphs to enter a dormant state. He concludes that the only way to stop the creatures for good is to return The Marker to the planet.

After being assisted by Clarke in loading the Marker onto the shuttle, Kyne is murdered by Daniels, who reveals the truth behind everything: she is a government operative ordered to retrieve the Marker for her superiors. She further reveals that the Marker is a reverse-engineered copy of another Marker found on Earth, and was placed on Aegis VII by the government hundreds of years ago to have scientists study its effects. These scientists discovered the pattern covering the surface of the Marker is, in fact, the DNA code for Necromorph infection.

The newly created infection escaped and began to kill the doctors and transform them, and it wasn't long before the original colony fell, but the doctors were successful in editing the Marker into an inhibitor of the infection, and activating this new feature. With the doctors dead and the infection locked away, the government marked Aegis VII as off-limits and abandoned the planet. The planet cracking operation was in fact a mission by CEC and the government to retrieve the valuable marker, which led up to the present events. She then leaves on the shuttle without Clarke, but Nicole arrives and is able to help him recall it, prompting Daniels to flee via an escape pod.

Clarke takes the shuttle with the Marker to the colony, and replaces it there; this pacifies the Hive Mind briefly, but also disrupts the gravity tethers holding a large portion of the planet several miles off the surface, threatening to destroy the colony. As Clarke attempts to escape, Daniels appears and takes the Marker back to the shuttle, once again removing the "dead space"-field pacifying the Hive Mind, and shows Clarke (through a fully recovered distress transmission) that Nicole actually committed suicide before they arrived on the Ishimura, and Clarke's visions of her had been the Marker's way of attempting to bring itself back to the planet, revealing that it is sentient in some way. Before she can leave, Daniels is killed by the gigantic Hive Mind, but Clarke is able to defeat it. Leaving the Marker behind, Clarke flies off in the shuttle just before the rock crashes into the planet, ravaging the surface of Aegis VII.

As he sets course away from Aegis VII, Nicole's suicide video plays, but is stopped by Clarke, who then simply stares off into space. He is suddenly attacked by what appears to be an apparition of Nicole in Necromorph form. The screen is suddenly covered with strange runes and Nicole screaming, which then cuts to black and static.

Spoilers end here.


Over the course of Dead Space, Isaac Clarke encounters many variants of the Necromorph threat.

  • Slasher : The most common form of Necromorph, it attacks using two large blades sprouted from the victim's shoulders and hands. It has an enhanced form which is encountered later in the game.
  • Leaper : A Necromorph more commonly found in Zero Gravity areas, it attacks with its large tail, a fusion of the victim's legs and intestines. It also has an enhanced form encountered later in the game.
  • Lurker : Reanimated infants that prowl the corridors and are often found in Zero Gravity. They attack with three barbed tentacles that fire quills. It also has an enhanced form encountered later in the game.
  • Swarmer : Tiny Necromorphs which appear to be reanimated flesh that travel in large groups and can jump at victims and rip away at their flesh.
  • Infector : A bat-like Necromorph with the sole-purpose of infecting corpses with a proboscis and turning them into new Necromorphs. The Infector can create enhanced forms of the Slashers and Leapers.
  • Tentacle : A long and thick tentacle with a glowing yellow pustule. Drag Tentacles drag victims to their deaths, usually into holes in walls.
  • Pregnant : A large hulking Necromorph that carries a payload of Swarmers with the exception of one encounter, it will carry Lurkers instead. It has two large scythe-like blades.
  • Brute : A very large and powerful Necromorph that can charge with great bursts of speed using its weight and strength to crush its victims.
  • Guardian : A stationary Necromorph plastered to a wall with six deadly tentacles and will decapitate anyone who gets to close to it and can fire out Pods as a form of self- defense and hindrance.
  • Pods : Small embryo-like Necromorphs that sprout tentacles and fire quills at anything alive. They are usually 'born' out of Guardians but are sometimes found alone.
  • The Hunter : A slasher-like Necromorph able to regenerate lost limbs after dismemberment. One was biologically engineered by Doctor Challus Mercer. The Hunter stalks Isaac in Chapter 5 and Chapter 10.
  • Wheezer : The only Necromorph that cannot attack directly. With the host's lungs expanded and relocated to the back, it can render the surrounding environment toxic. They are only found on the Hydroponics Deck contaminating the air.
  • Exploder : A small thin Necromorph with an appendage containing a highly explosive organic compound which rivals its own size.
  • Divider : A tall and thin Necromorph with the ability to divide itself into multiple segments. It emits haunting sounds similar to that of whales.
  • Twitcher : A spastic and remarkably fast Necromorph formed by marines with Stasis units built into their suits.

Isaac also encounters three much larger forms of Necromorph, which serve as bosses.

  • The Leviathan : A massive, amorphous Necromorph found in the USG Ishimura's food storage facility, in Chapter 6. It has a gaping mouth concealing a bulbous orb, surrounded by three orifices out of which tentacles sprout.
  • The Slug : A large Necromorph found on the hull of the USG Ishimura in Chapter 8. It has five tentacles sprouting from its body which it uses to hurl objects at the tower, where Isaac uses the anti-asteroid cannons to defeat it.
  • The Hive Mind : A gigantic Necromorph which rests within a crater on Aegis VII, and is fought at the end of Chapter 12. It has the appearance of a segmented worm, with multiple tentacles, and several yellow sacs located in the mouth and chest. It spits out explosive projectiles and Pregnants at Isaac.



An early screenshot of Isaac fighting some Slashers

The players must fight their way through various levels of a stricken mining ship, which has been infested with an alien species known as "Necromorphs". The game features an 'over the shoulder' third-person perspective, similar to games such as Resident Evil 4 and Gears of War. The interface does not feature a traditional heads-up display. Instead, information is relayed to the player via lights and translucent screens which hover over Isaac's weapons and armor. There are weightless and decompressed environments, which Isaac can navigate using a pressurized suit equipped with gravity boots. Some levels will even lead out onto the surface of the ship's hull. Floating debris will present a hazard, and Isaac can lose his footing and simply float off into space, also risking running out of oxygen when in vacuum. In keeping with Isaac's profession as an engineer rather than a soldier, weapons in the game are mostly improvised, and consist of an array of bolt cutters, stasis fields and rudimentary energy weapons.

Combat in the game is complicated by the fact that most Necromorphs are not simply rendered 'dead' after a certain number of rounds have been fired at them. Rather, they must be dismembered a certain way to be dead, but they can adopt new stances and tactics, and even sprout new limbs, based upon where they have been wounded. The game's Executive Producer, Glen Schofield, has said that 'the primary theme of Dead Space is dismemberment', and early previews of the game have noted the high levels of gore.

Marketing Promotions and Release

Viral Campaigns

Main article: No Known Survivors

No Known Survivors is a viral campaign made by Electronic Arts that provides an opportunity for visitors to explore the narrative world of Dead Space. The site employs interactive components, 3D animations, voice acting, original video and "Papervision 3D" technology to tell two equally tragic four-chapter stories.

Dead Space Original Soundtrack

Main article: Dead Space Original Soundtrack

The Dead Space Original Soundtrack was composed by Jason Graves and was released on November 11, 2008. It features editing montages of a portion of the music heard in-game. The soundtrack is sixty minutes long while the in-game score is over two hours long.


Main articles: Dead Space (comics) and Dead Space: Downfall

Achievements and Trophies

Main article: List of Achievements and Trophies for Dead Space

There are 48 in total (8 of them secret) and an additional Platinum Trophy on the PS3 version when all others are awarded. The method for obtaining each one is the same in both versions of the game (minus the PS3 platinum).


  • When you take the first letter from each chapter they spell the phrase "N.I.C.O.L.E. I.S. D.E.A.D."
    • The end of each 'word' is a boss fight. The Leviathan at the E of Nicole, the Slug at the S of Is, and the Hive Mind at the second D of Dead.
    • With the exception of Isaac and Nicole, all of the main cast of characters die in the chapters that make D.E.A.D., Hammond in Dead on Arrival, Challus Mercer in End of Days, Dr. Terrence Kyne in Alternate Solutions and Kendra in Dead Space.
  • Electronic Arts is working to make a live-action film based on the game.
  • Isaac Clarke is mute for the entirety of Dead Space, and only begins talking and responding to people in Dead Space 2.
  • The animated movie and the game depict the death of Captain Benjamin Mathius in slightly different ways. In the movie, the captain breaks free from being restrained and attacks the doctor, his death a tragic accident in the ensuing struggle. However in the game, the events between the captain being restrained and Dr. Terrance Kyne stabbing Captain Benjamin Mathius in the eye with a syringe are lost to video interference.
  • The title "Dead Space" is a play on words, taken from the "dead space" field generated by the Markers and the gratuitous amount of death that takes place in space.
  • Dead Space is listed as #12 in IGN.com's "Top 25 PlayStation 3 games". [1]
  • There are more death scenes ending with Isaac's decapitation than any other variation of death in the game.
  • The main menu is interactive; you can move around the menu with the right thumbstick. (confirmed on PC using an Xbox 360 controller, 360 and PS3).
  • There are a number of phrases written in Unitology script in different areas of the main menu which foreshadow various revelations in the game. The phrases are: "Red Marker is man made", "Trust no one" and "There's always Peng!" The last being a reference to the hidden Peng trophy in Chapter 11.
  • How shuttles were launched during the game contradicts with Dead Space: Downfall due to the fact that during the movie (in a scene on the bridge), one of the officers confirms of the launch of all shuttles.
  • After completing Dead Space for the first time you are rewarded with these items: Level 6 Soldier RIG, Back story Logs, 50,000 Credits, 10 Power Nodes, and Impossible Mode. These Credits and Power Nodes make it easier the second time around for that save file, and allow you to better focus on getting achievements and upgrading everything.
  • The Dead Space series does not make use of Scaleform middleware to create the signature futuristic UI. Instead the UI is created entirely by the game's engine itself. [2]
  • If the player scrolls through the main menu quickly, the music will change into a more intense style.
  • With the exception of just three scenes, Isaac spends almost the entire game physically separated (by glass, barriers, or gaps) from all other human characters.[3]
  • At the main screen, if the player does not press anything, the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, sung in a startling tone, will start playing while showing most of Isaac's death scenes.
  • To get a peek at Isaac's face before the end of the game, rotate the camera during the opening scene after the shuttle 'lands.'
  • Isaac can be controlled without being armed with a weapon, through the beginning of the game and by depositing all of his weaponry into the safe. He cannot use Kinesis or Stasis while unarmed, nor can he perform a melee attack or stomp. Isaac cannot be controlled unarmed in any other title, barring the beginning run of Dead Space 2.
  • This is technically the only game in the series where the lasers and dots used for aiming are "dynamic" in the way the space between them can change depending on the distance from the target, though in Dead Space 2 and Dead Space 3 this can be toggled in the Settings Menu; it is permanent in Classic Mode for Dead Space 3.
  • In some of the concept art Isaac is depicted wearing a RIG with a green visor glow; however, in the game it is always blue.
    Spoilers end here.


Further Reading


  1. Dead Space takes place three years before the events of Dead Space 2, the latter taking place in 2511. Steve Papoutsis' reply via Twitter was most likely a typo or oversight


  1. IGN - Top 25 PlayStation 3 Games
  2. Ignacio, Dino (2011). "AMA: I am the Lead UI designer of Dead Space". Reddit.
  3. Podgorski, Daniel (November 4, 2015). "AAA Horror that Works: How the Original Dead Space Maintains a Tense Atmosphere". The Gemsbok. Your Mid-week Mission.
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