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

EA Redwood Shores (Currently known as Visceral Games)


Electronic Arts


PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Release date(s):

NA:October 13, 2008
NA:October 20, 2008 (PC)
AU:October 23, 2008
EU: October 24, 2008


Survival Horror
Third-Person Shooter


Single Player


ESRB Mature 17+ / PEGI 18

"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 was 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 took on the role of an engineer named Isaac Clarke who battled the polymorphic undead species called the "Necromorphs" on board a stricken interstellar mining ship called the USG Ishimura.


Backstory and Setting

Dead Space is set in 2508[note 1]. Earth was 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 is where the Concordance Extraction Corporation came 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 the other planets for their most rare and most valuable resources to take them back to Earth. Even though there are subsequent Planetcrackers (A small fleet now existed), the Ishimura remained the iconic symbol of mankind's will to survive, even after all of these decades. Thanks to Planetcracking, mankind was now thriving again and resources are plentiful. By the time of the game, the Ishimura performed 34 successful planetcracks and is now in the process of beginning its 35th. However, the events that took place during this planet crack are the events that threatened the very survival of mankind.


  • Isaac Clarke - The main character and protagonist of the game. Isaac was a ship systems specialist and 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 were thrust into the midst of the nightmare the Ishimura had become. Clarke was 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 stumbled across a conspiracy involving the Church of Unitology, the government and a realm of possibilities.
  • Kendra Daniels - Kendra was a technologist and part of the team sent aboard the Ishimura to repair the communication systems. She helped the player through the Ishimura in many ways, giving directions and assisting through the areas of the ship that would otherwise be inaccessible. She frequently expressed distrust of Hammond, but turned out to know more about the situation than anyone previously thought.
  • Zach Hammond - The senior security officer on board the Kellion who traveled with Isaac and Kendra to the Ishimura. Hammond's initial desire to complete the original mission and not immediately abort put him at odds with Kendra who found this suspicious. Throughout the game, he worked to fulfill their original mission and repair the Ishimura, but as time went on, he became more disillusioned and focused 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 gripped the Ishimura, Mercer went completely insane, surrendering completely to religious fanaticism and attempting to convince the crew of the Ishimura to commit mass suicide. Mercer often worked to bar the progress of Isaac and even attempted to kill him outright, sending a regenerating Necromorph that he created, the Hunter, after Isaac several times throughout the course of the game. To Mercer, everything that happened is God's will. He believed that the Necromorphs are the natural successors to humanity and their emergence from corpses represented life after death. Mercer insisted repeatedly that Isaac should die and allow "God's children" to take over.
  • Terrence Kyne - The Chief Science Officer of the Ishimura who appeared later in the game and asked for help from the surviving members of the Kellion. He seemed to be a bit eccentric, perhaps deranged, but offered to aid Isaac in stopping the nightmare that gripped the Aegis System and the Ishimura. Kyne attempted to relieve Captain Mathius of his duty during the crisis on the ship, but instead seemed to be complicit in the Captain's death either in whole or in part. He regularly interacted with his dead wife, an apparition caused by the Marker that could not be seen by the player.
  • Nicole Brennan - Isaac's girlfriend and a medical specialist assigned to the Ishimura. The game started 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 got nightmares about Nicole as well.
  • Chen - A security officer on the USG Kellion. He was killed at the start of the game when the Necromorphs first appeared.
  • Johnston - A security officer on the USG Kellion. He was killed at the start of the game when the Necromorphs first appeared.
  • Jacob Temple - The Chief Engineer of the Ishimura who you heard about throughout the game via audio logs and briefly encountered later in the game. As the ship began to fall apart, Jacob and his team attempted to repair the engines, but Jacob quickly realized the ship's engines were sabotaged. As the infection spread, Jacob began to look for his girlfriend, Elizabeth Cross. Jacob, surprisingly, found 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 began to fall apart, Elizabeth attempted to find Jacob. Miraculousl, Elizabeth and Jacob found each other only to be captured and killed by Dr. Mercer before they could escape.

Plot Summary

During the process of mining the planet Aegis VII, the USG Ishimura sends 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 procedure 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 was abandoned.

As they enter the flight lounge, Isaac Clarke, the crew's engineer, enters a separate room to access 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, urging Isaac to run. The defenseless Isaac is forced to run for his life through a hallway before escaping his pursuers through an elevator; he later manages to find a weapon and make contact with Hammond and Kendra through a window. Hammond, realizing many ship systems are failing, including the anti-asteroid defenses, recognizes the threat posed by a nearby asteroid belt and sends Clarke throughout the ship to repair its core systems so they may live; he also promises to help Isaac find his girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, an Ishimura medical worker seen at the beginning of the game in a strange video received by Isaac; indeed, Clarke's sole reason for taking this mission was to visit her. After restoring the Ishimura's tram system, Clarke returns to the flight lounge to repair the Kellion, but before he can begin the creatures attack the shuttle and it explodes, its wreckage plummeting to the bottom of the hangar bay. 

During these treks, Clarke discovers various text and audio logs scattered throughout the ship, using them to piece together events that occurred before he arrived: The ship's captain, Benjamin Mathius, was actually an agent of the "Church of Unitology" — a large and influential religious cult — assigned to retrieve one of his religion's holiest relics, known as the "Red Marker", from Aegis VII, a planet quarantined for undisclosed reasons many years ago by the Earth Government. Disregarding the quarantine, the CEC had performed a minerological analysis on the planet, revealing it to be extraordinarily rich in resources. While establishing a planetside colony to aid in mineral extraction, CEC employees discovered the Red Marker and the Unitologists among the crew passed the clandestine information to the Church. The Church and captain quickly replaced or won over many of the Ishimura's ranking Medical and Science officers. With the upper echelon of the ship in Unitologist hands and records of the mining operation already confidential due to the Aegis VII quarantine, the Unitologists seized the opportunity to capture the Marker, planning to discover the secrets of human creation, evolution and purpose they believed lay within.

Soon after the Marker was extracted and brought to the Ishimura, a large portion of the civilians, first planetside, then on the ship, suffered from extreme hysteria and paranoia brought on by violent hallucinations. Though the medical teams at each location screened for diseases and distributed sedatives, the crew's agitation could not be contained for long and the outbreak of paranoia evolved into mass homicidal and suicidal impulses. Though believed to be caused by proximity to the Marker, colonists had no idea how or why this occurred.

Despite this, the hysteria was kept under control until  planet crack commenced a week later. Immediately after planet crack, the colony's power went out and the unknown organisms began ravaging the colony, infecting the bodies of the dead and turning them into "Necromorphs," abominations that killed and infected dead bodies in order to spread the infestation. When reports of this reached the Ishimura, Captain Mathius cut off all ship-colony traffic and communications to prevent the infection from reaching his ship. The Chief Science Officer, Dr. Terrence Kyne, urged Captain Mathius to halt the extraction and send out a distress signal, but as they were in a restricted system, Mathius refused, becoming ever-more focused on delivering the Marker to the Church, even at the expense of his crew's safety.

Kyne, believing the decision irrational and the Captain buckling under the psychological pressure of his loyalties to the Church and CEC, attempted to relieve the Captain of his duty under maritime law; Mathius refused to comply, spouting fanatically about heresy. Kyne, attempting to sedate the Captain, told him to be still, but Mathius, struggling violently, was killed by Kyne in the scuffle, the syringe missing his neck and rammed through his eye socket.

While Kyne did not appear to want to kill the Captain and the death may have been a freak accident, it may also have been a momentary loss of control, as the Marker on the ship caused the same homicidal paranoia experienced on the colony. The infection then spread to the Ishimura via a colony shuttle piloted by a survivor, unaware a Necromorph  had entered his shuttle prior to takeoff. The shuttle crashed into the docking bay, allowing the creatures to escape into the Ishimura's ventilation system and begin killing and infecting its inhabitants. Shortly thereafter, all of the emergency shuttles and escape pods of the Ishimura were remotely launched, all empty.

Furthermore, the Communications Array became damaged either by the same saboteurs or by the creatures beginning to rampage through the ship. In an attempt that claimed her life, a member of the Ishimura's security team was able to launch a distress beacon which was picked up by the CEC, who then dispatched the Kellion. Hours later, the distress signal was picked up by the EarthGov Military which dispatched a special operations team to deal with the suspected outbreak and perform search and rescue. When the Kellion arrived, the Ishimura almost completely fell to the Necromorphs.

Though Hammond stated he was unaware of the Marker's role in everything, Daniels confided to Clarke she believed Hammond was lying. Clarke later encountered his girlfriend, Nicole, though they could not meet directly; she was behaving strangely.

With the critical systems repaired, Hammond, Clarke, and Daniels are able to launch a beacon for rescue, attracting a nearby military ship called the USM Valor. However, the Valor picks up an escape pod launched by Hammond containing a Necromorph, becomes overrun with the creatures, and crashed into the ship. Hammond deduces from the heavy military equipment that found on board that the Valor was actually assigned to destroy the Ishimura, suggesting someone outside Aegis VII knew about the alien threat.

The group decide they must find a shuttle and escape while they can. Clarke and Hammond 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 Kyne later contacts Clarke, urging him to return the Marker to Aegis VII. He reveals in a video that a large creature controlling all of the Necromorphs known as the The Hive Mind, escaped after planet-crack and began infecting the colony. He believes the Marker actually acts as an inhibitor, rendering the Hive Mind dormant as long as it remained on the planet; the Hive Mind's dormancy would render the other Necromorphs dormant. He concludes the only way to stop the creatures for good is to return the Marker to the planet.

After Clarke assists him 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; it is a reverse-engineered copy of another Marker found on Earth, and had been placed on Aegis VII hundreds of years ago by the government so scientists could study its effects. These scientists discovered that the pattern covering the surface of the Marker was the DNA code for the Necromorph infection.

The newly created infection escaped, began to kill and transform the doctors, and soon the original colony fell, but the doctors successfully edited the Marker into an inhibitor and activated it. 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 joint mission by the CEC and government to retrieve the Marker, leading up to the present events. Daniels then left 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, replacing it there, briefly pacifying the Hive Mind, but also disrupting 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, taking the Marker back to the shuttle, once again removing the "dead space" field pacifying the Hive Mind. Through a fully recovered transmission, she shows Clarke Nicole actually committed suicide well before they arrived at the Ishimura- the Marker is somehow sentient and has been using the visions of Nicole in an attempt to effect its return to the planet.  Before she can leave, Daniels is killed by the gigantic Hive Mind, which Clarke manages to defeat. 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 a course away from Aegis VII, Nicole's suicide video plays; Clarke stops it, then simply stares into space. He's suddenly attacked by what seems to be an apparition of Nicole in Necromorph form. The screen's suddenly covered in strange runes and Nicole screaming, then cuts to black and static.

Spoilers end here.


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

  • Slasher : The most common form of a Necromorph. It attacked using two large blades sprouted from the victim's shoulders and hands. It had an enhanced form which is encountered later in the game.
  • Leaper : A Necromorph more commonly found in Zero Gravity areas. It attacked with its large tail which is a fusion of the victim's legs and intestines. It also had an enhanced form encountered later in the game.
  • Lurker : The reanimated infants that prowled the corridors and are often found in Zero Gravity. They attacked with three barbed tentacles that fired quills. It also had an enhanced form encountered later in the game.
  • Swarmer : The tiny Necromorphs which appeared to be reanimated flesh that travelled 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. The Drag Tentacles dragged victims to their deaths, usually into holes in walls.
  • Pregnant : A large hulking Necromorph that carried a payload of Swarmers with the exception of one encounter, it will carry Lurkers instead. It had 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 got too close to it and can fire out Pods as a form of self defense and hindrance.
  • Pods : The small embryo-like Necromorphs that sprouted tentacles and fired 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 stalked 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 rivaled its own size.
  • Divider : A tall and thin Necromorph with the ability to divide itself into multiple segments. It emitted 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 had a gaping mouth concealing a bulbous orb, surrounded by three orifices out of which tentacles sprouted.
  • The Slug : A large Necromorph found on the hull of the USG Ishimura in Chapter 8. It had five tentacles sprouting from its body which it used to hurl objects at the tower where Isaac used the anti-asteroid cannons to defeat it.
  • The Hive Mind : A gigantic Necromorph which rested within a crater on Aegis VII and is fought at the end of Chapter 12. It had the appearance of a segmented worm with multiple tentacles and several yellow sacs located in the mouth and chest. It spit 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 was infested with an alien species known as "Necromorphs". The game featured an 'over the shoulder' third-person perspective, similar to games such as Resident Evil 4 and Gears of War. The interface did not feature a traditional heads up display. Instead, information is relayed to the player via lights and translucent screens which hovered 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. The 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 he is in a vacuum. In keeping with Isaac's profession as an engineer rather than a soldier, weapons in the game are mostly improvised and consisted of an array of bolt cutters, stasis fields and rudimentary energy weapons.

There are four difficulties in Dead Space: 'Easy Mode', 'Medium Mode', 'Hard Mode', and 'Impossible Mode' which is obtained after completion of the game on any difficulty, all of which change both the Necromorphs health and damage, as well as the rate of items dropped by enemies and encountered through boxes, lockers and cases. Some items on higher difficulties scripted to spawn will be downgraded to a less valuable resource.

Combat in the game is complicated by the fact that most Necromorphs are not simply rendered 'dead' after a certain number of rounds are fired at them. Rather, they must be dismembered in a certain way to be dead, but they can adopt new stances and tactics and even sprout new limbs, based upon where they are wounded, sometimes even playing dead to catch the player by surprise. The game's Executive Producer, Glen Schofield said that 'the primary theme of Dead Space is dismemberment' and early previews of the game 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 provided an opportunity for visitors to explore the narrative world of Dead Space. The site employed 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 featured editing montages of a portion of the music heard in the game. The soundtrack is sixty minutes long while the 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 are secret) and an additional Platinum Trophy on the PS3 version when all of the 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'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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