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"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 (later 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 gone 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 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.

Main Characters[]

  • Isaac Clarke - The protagonist of the game. Isaac is a ship system specialist and an engineer traveling aboard the shuttle USG 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 attempting to stop 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.

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 find out what happened to 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 of 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 centuries ago by the 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.

Immediately after the Marker was discovered, a large portion of the civilians planetside began to suffer from extreme hysteria and paranoia brought on by violent hallucinations. After the Marker was extracted and brought to the Ishimura, the same cases were reported on the ship. 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, the colonists had no idea how or why this occurred. At the same time, an unidentified fleshy growth had begun building up in the ventilation systems of both the colony and the Ishimura.

Despite this, the crew's hysteria was kept under control until 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 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, 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 ship's security team was able to launch a distress beacon which was picked up by the CEC, who then dispatched the Kellion. Simultaneously, the EarthGov Military became aware of the Ishimura's trespassing in the system and dispatched a special operations team to deal with the suspected outbreak and perform search and rescue. By the time the Kellion arrived, the Ishimura had almost completely fallen 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 a damaged escape pod that had been jettisoned by Hammond containing a Necromorph, becomes overrun with the creatures, and crashes into the Ishimura. Hammond deduces from the heavy military equipment found on board that the Valor was actually assigned to destroy the Ishimura, suggesting someone outside Aegis VII knew about the alien threat. A log found by Clarke aboard the Valor reveals that the Marines were aware of the Red Marker and its danger, referring to it as "Marker 3A".

The group decide they must find a shuttle and escape while they can. Clarke and Hammond retrieve the Valor's singularity core in order to repair an available shuttle, but Hammond is killed by a Brute Necromorph in the process. The surviving Terrence 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 Hive Mind began ravaging the colony after the planet crack. He believes the Marker also has the power to trap the Hive Mind back inside the planet if it is returned to its excavation site, and concludes the only way to contain the massive creature is to return the Marker to the planet. However, Daniels points out the disconcerting fact that Kyne appears to be in a deranged state, as he frequently converses with and takes orders from his wife Amelia, who had been dead for years according to an audio log found by Clarke.

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 with the assistance of the USM Valor; Marker 3A is a reverse-engineered copy of the alien Black Marker found on Earth, and had been placed on Aegis VII hundreds of years prior so scientists could study its effects. These scientists discovered that the symbols covering the surface of the Marker represented DNA instructions for the Necromorph infection. The newly created infection escaped, killing and transforming the doctors as the original colony fell apart, and the Marker was abandoned on the surface above the Hive Mind's resting place. The government then marked Aegis VII as off limits and abandoned the planet. After explaining this to Clarke, Daniels leaves on the shuttle without him, 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, placing it back as Nicole appears from behind it and states that they are "whole". This causes the Marker to emit an immense wave of energy that 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, taking the Marker back to the shuttle as the Hive Mind is heard crying out in anger from below. Through a fully recovered transmission, she shows Clarke that Nicole actually committed suicide well before they arrived at the Ishimura - the Marker has been using the visions of Nicole in order to get Isaac to return it to the Hive Mind. Daniels tries to flee but gets killed by the gigantic Hive Mind, which Clarke manages to defeat. Leaving the Marker behind, Clarke takes off with 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 a vision of a bloodied Nicole. The screen's suddenly covered in Marker symbols along with Nicole's screaming, then cuts to black and static.


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 featured editing montages of a portion of the music heard in the game. The soundtrack was sixty minutes long while the game score was 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 was 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 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 seemingly a tragic accident in the ensuing struggle. However, in the game, the events between the captain being restrained and Kyne stabbing Mathius in the eye with a syringe are lost to video interference.
  • 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", "Make us whole", "Trust no one" and "There's always Peng!" The last being a reference to various posters seen throughout the game and the hidden Peng trophy in Chapter 11: Alternate Solutions.
  • After completing Dead Space for the first time you are rewarded with these items: Military Suit, Backstory 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 and promotional images, Isaac is depicted wearing a RIG with a green visor glow; however, in the game it is always blue.
  • The PC version of the game alongside Dead Space 2 is missing achievements.
  • A remake of the game built on the Frostbite Engine by EA Motive was released January 27, 2023. It was announced at EA Play on July 22, 2021. It reintroduces the game with modernized assets built from the ground up. The game is available for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.


Cover Art[]



Character Concept Art[]

Necromorph Concept Art[]

Environment Concept Art[]


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.