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Isaac Clarke is not having a good day.

Dead Space is a Third-Person Science Fiction Survival Horror video game series developed by Visceral Games (formerly EA Redwood Shores) and published by Electronic Arts.

The series takes place in the future, where humanity has become technologically advanced and colonized space. However, all this progress comes with a cost: Earth is an ecological ruin, and humanity has turned into a race of Planet Looters, smashing apart entire planets for their raw materials, and conducting as much research as possible into new sources of renewable energy.

The good news is: they found such a source in the Marker, a giant double-helix alien monolith discovered in the ashes of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. It produces a seemingly-endless electromagnetic field that scientists hope to harness. The bad news is: it's an Artifact of Attraction and an Artifact of Death that causes everyone nearby to go violently insane, and reanimates its surrounding corpses into horrifically mutated Necromorphs, which seek out and kill everyone nearby in gruesome ways.

The players play as Isaac Clarke, a humble engineer who becomes entangled in the deadly world of Markers and Necromorphs when his maintenance team attempted to relieve the distress signal of USG Ishimura, only to discover that it has been infested with Necromorphs and that they're now knee-deep in government conspiracies on the Marker.

Every story in the franchise involves a Necromorph outbreak in a closed environment, and the characters who try to survive it. Either the survivors are there during the outbreak or show up after the place has gone to Hell.

Other important points of the series include the Church of Unitology, a major human religion that worships the Marker as the path to human "Convergence"; the re-purposing of power tools as weapons; the necessity of shooting An Arm and a Leg off the Necromorphs in order to kill them; each type of Necromorph having a unique "killing Isaac" animation; and a Diegetic Interface in which people wear Life Meters on their backs.

Core gameplay is about precision targeting and strategic rationing. Necromorphs are immune to headshots, as their neural tissue is evenly spread across the entire nervous system - especially the limbs. In order to traumatize a necromorph into losing total control of their body, you'll need to perform disgusting levels of accurately violent damage to various parts of the necromorphs, especially the limbs; each limb severed deals a massive chunk of damage to the necromorph, and most necromorphs can't handle losing at least three neural clusters. Most. Your arsenal is a hybrid of futuristic industrial power tools meant for maintaining gigantic spaceships, standard military hardware, and two technology-powered magic powers known as Stasis and Kinesis, all of which have their own limits to ammunition and/or cooldown speed. Every mission is a challenge to balance dwindling supplies against an increasing slew of necromorph waves.

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Works in the Series

    Main Games 
  • Dead Space (2008) - The first game in the series, released for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Engineer Isaac Clarke is part of a team responding to a distress signal from the USG Ishimura, a giant ship designed to "crack" planets for resources. When the Ishimura crew doesn't receive their ship, Isaac's team is forced to crash land inside and, after leaving their damaged shuttle, the crew finds the Ishimura in severe disrepair and swarming with Necromorphs. When Isaac then ends up separated, the team splits up to co-ordinate repairing several ship areas and reunite to escape. Isaac also has a personal stake in fixing the Ishimura; his entire reason for volunteering was to visit his girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, who is also trapped aboard.
    • Dead Space (Remake) (2023) - A Video Game Remake of the original game, developed by EA Motive for Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, and PC. The game follows the same general storyline and structure of the original game, but with tweaks and improvements to the presentation and gameplay to bring the game up to modern standards, as well as build upon the foundation laid by the original game.
  • Dead Space 2 (2011) - The second game in the series, released for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Three years after Dead Space, Isaac Clarke awakens in a hospital aboard Titan Station, a massive mining station (nicknamed The Sprawl) located on Saturn's moon. With no memory of how he got there and suffering severe hallucinations, Isaac soon finds himself in the middle of another Necromorph outbreak, forcing him to find the source of the Necromorphs and stop them. However, Isaac soon finds himself impeded by Sprawl head Hans Tiedemann, as well as a collective of Unitologist radicals, meaning Necromorphs aren't his only worry this time.
    • Dead Space 2: Severed - A DLC midquel released in March 2011 that follows Gabe Weller. Acting as a follow-up for one of the main characters of Dead Space: Extraction, the story provides an alternate perspective on events: one of the last surviving security officer in the mines, Gabe has to fight through the outbreak to rescue his wife, Lexine, and get to safety.
  • Dead Space 3 (2013) - The third game in the series. Three years after Dead Space 2, Isaac is a fugitive wanted by both EarthGov and the Unitologists. Approached by Earth Defense Force soldiers, Clarke is reluctantly dragged into a plot to destroy several Markers. Escaping a Unitologist attack, Clarke's team follows a lead to Tau Volantis, a frozen planet believed to be "Marker Central". Dead Space 3 is especially notable as the in the series to see co-op; whilst the plot remains the same on the whole, a second player can assist Isaac as Sergeant John Carver, an otherwise secondary character who suggests they should stick together. Said co-op can be played online with a friend, or via drop-in/drop-out with strangers.
    • Dead Space 3: Awakened - A DLC sequel released March 2013, Awakened acts as a Playable Epilogue to the open ending to the main game. Picking up not long after the main story, the plot continues Isaac and Carver's perspective, and (somewhat infamously) resolved the main game's cliffhanger only to end on an even bigger one.

    Spin-Off Games 
  • Dead Space: Extraction (2009) - A Rail Shooter released for the Wii and packaged with the PlayStation 3 version of Dead Space 2. The game follows Nathan McNeill, Gabe Weller, Lexine Murdoch, and Warren Eckhardt as they try to escape from Aegis VII to the Ishimura as Necromorphs infest the colony, only to find the Ishimura is not better off. It is a Prequel to Dead Space.
  • Dead Space (2011) - (Also known as Dead Space: iOS and Dead Space: Mobile) A Prequel to Dead Space 2 released for iOS systems, this game follow a Unitologist agent named Vandal who first sabotages Titan Station, then tries to escape when the Necromorphs start to appear.
  • Dead Space Ignition (2010) - A downloadable game for Play Station Network and Xbox Live Arcade. It is a Prequel to Dead Space 2. A police officer named Sarah and and an engineer named Franco Delile are on the Sprawl when the Necromorphs attack. Sarah wants to escape, but Franco has his own agenda. The story is told in a motion comic format with Gamebook options, though the ending is always the same. The actual game is three Hacking Minigames that represent Franco hacking various parts of the Sprawl.

    Other Spin-Off Media 
  • Dead Space: Martyr (2010) - A Prequel novel, chronologically it is the earliest story in the Dead Space universe. The book focuses on Michael Altman, the head figure of Unitology, and his discovery of the Black Marker in the Gulf of Mexico. As he and other scientists try to figure what the Marker is, everyone starts going insane, and eventually Necromorphs appear and attack the laboratory they are working out of.
  • Dead Space (2008) - A Comic Book that takes place before the events of Dead Space. On Aegis VII, a Red Marker is discovered during a mining operation. As a duplicate of Unitologists' sacred Black Marker, plans are made to move the Marker on-board the Ishimura. But as the Red Marker is moved on-board the Ishimura, everyone starts going insane, and eventually Necromorphs appear and attack the colony. The comics focuses primarily on Abraham Neumann, who is anti-Unitologist, and Marla Jansenn, who is a Unitologist, as they try to escape Aegis VII. The comic was released retail, and can be unlocked on the Nintendo Wii version of Dead Space: Extraction.
  • Dead Space: Downfall (2008) - A Direct-to-Video Prequel, taking place before Extraction and Dead Space. The Red Marker is brought on the Ishimura, causing a stir; Unitologists want to worship it while scientists want to study it. Tensions start to mount and soon everyone starts going insane, and eventually Necromorphs appear and attack everyone on-board. The second half of the movie is about security officer Alissa Vincent and her Five-Man Band as they try to escape the Ishimura. They don't. Big surprise.
  • Dead Space: Extraction (2009) - A comic based in the video game of the same name.
  • Dead Space: Aftermath (2011) - A second Direct-to-Video movie, this time an Interquel between Dead Space and Dead Space 2. The survivors of the USG O'Bannon are brought on-board USM Abraxis and interrogated about what happened on their ship. Most of the movie is told in flashback, as the surviving crewmembers relate how their ship was assigned the mission of bringing back a shard of the Red Marker Isaac Clarke blew up in the first game. Even before the shard is moved to the O'Bannon, everyone starts going insane, and Necromorphs appear and kill everyone on the O'Bannon, and the rest of the movie is how the survivors: Nickolas Kuttner, Alejandro Borges, Nolan Stross, and Isabella Cho, lasted long enough to get out.
  • Dead Space: Salvage (2010) - A Sequel Comic Book to Dead Space. Miners discover the remains of the Ishimura out in space and decide to sell it, but get in trouble when they discover shards of the Red Marker, and have to deal with new Necromorphs and government agents that also want the ship.
  • Dead Space Liberation (2013) - A Prequel Comic Book to Dead Space 3. When Unitologists attack the research base on planet Uxor and release its Marker, Necromorphs appear and start killing everyone. One of the few survivors of the initial attack is EarthGov Sergeant John Carter who struggles to save his wife and child from the attack. He fails. During the outbreak he encounters Ellie Langford and joins her and the crew of the Eudora in their mission to find the source of the Marker's power before the outbreak spreads to the rest of human space.
  • Dead Space: Catalyst (2012) - A novel that takes place before Dead Space, but has little connection to any story in the series. Mentally ill Istvan Sato is sent to a prison on the planet Aspera which also has a secret research facility that is building its own Marker. Due to his mental illness Istvan has an unusual reaction to the Marker, and the local Unitologist nutcase puts him as the same room as the Marker, which causes Necromorphs to appear and slaughter everyone in the research facility and prison. Istvan's brother and lifelong caretaker Jensi travels to Aspera when the outbreak occurs, and tries to locate Istvan.

Plans for Dead Space 4 were placed in Development Hell after 3 didn't sell as well as Electronic Arts had hoped. Visceral Games was then tagged to develop a brand new Star Wars single-player video game. In October 2017, EA shut down Visceral Games, which left the future of the Dead Space franchise in serious doubt. Those doubts continued until July 2021 when EA announced a remake of the first Dead Space for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S developed by Motive Studios, which will utilize the Frostbite engine.

During the 2020 Game Awards, however, a Spiritual Successor developed by Striking Distance Studios, which has the original creator of the series Glen Schofield at its helm was teased, called The Callisto Protocol. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S in 2022.

Additionally, Isaac appears as a playable DLC character in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, and is based primarily on his Dead Space 3 incarnation.

Series-Wide Tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: Isaac's profile in the first game mentions that his father died while doing work for the government, and his file is classified. This never comes up again. Subverted in the remake where he was revealed to return after doing his mission and ended up being killed by his Unitologist wife Octavia in a Murder-Suicide after Nicole caused her to have a crisis of faith.
  • Absent Aliens: Despite having colonized much of the galaxy, humans haven't found any life besides themselves. Dead Space 3 explains why this is: the Necromorphs (or rather, the moon-sized, Reaper-esque Eldritch Abominations that are the Necromorph phenomena's "true form") ate them all.
  • Ambiguously Brown: In the Dead Space 'verse, we have Indian/Asian/Middle-Eastern looking people with names like Gabe Weller or John Carver. It's been over 500 years since present times, and given the presumed social progress, it's not hard to believe that everyone has a little bit of every race in them.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Headshots will only get you so far, as Necromorphs can and will adapt to compensate for their lost cranium. Severing their limbs is the most effective and enforced method.
    • Issac losing a limb means he's already dead. Luckily this only applies to messing up an event like escaping a necromorph's grasp.
  • Arc Words: "Make us whole again."
  • Artifact Mook: The babies. You first encounter them in a prosthetics lab with babies growing in tubes all over the walls. Nice and creepy. But even though this lab is only a single room with maybe 50 baby tubes total, from that point on zombie babies are ubiquitous all over the ship and you fight at least a hundred of them in the game.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Markers, all of them. They are sentient and cause people to hallucinate their loved ones, hurt themselves, write strange writing on the walls in anything they can, kill themselves, and somehow make Necromorphs appear.
    • Note that the Red and Black markers only show horrific visions as a form of communication, and mostly try to prevent Necromorph outbreaks; it's stated a few times that one needs a high level of intelligence to properly interpret the visions and not go insane. The Golden Marker, on the other hand, seems to be actively malevolent. The visions of Nicole that it shows Isaac taunt, lie to, and manipulate him, and want him to kill himself in the end. The Golden Marker seems built to begin Necromorph outbreaks and trigger Convergence events, unlike the others, which work to prevent them.
    • Played completely straight in Dead Space 3 where it revealed that all of the Markers are built to trigger Convergence events and summon the Brother Moons. The earlier seeming "helpful" advice of the Red and Black Markers was due to people's misinterpretation of their messages.
      • Dead Space 3 reveals that in their early stages, the Markers nudge sentient races into becoming technologically advanced encourage overpopulation, at which point they switch into their final stages of inducing a necromorph outbreak, harvesting the civilization for its biomass.
      • Even the "original" Black Marker probably wasn't directly made by the necromorphs: Marker visions make less intelligent beings go violently insane, but compels more intelligent ones to make copies of the Marker, to spread the infection. Some unaffected people even copy it for the false promise of a limited energy source. This spread of Marker-copies probably isn't just intended for the target race, but how the necromorphs spread to new star systems and new species (i.e. the Black Marker could have come from the Tau Volantis aliens, who were just another species that fell to the necromorphs). No explanation is given for what started the necromorph cycle in the first place.
  • Artistic License Ė Biology: Necromorphs have a blatantly impossible body structure, lacking any kind of vital or digestive organs or central nervous system, and what they have left over is either converted into muscles or Combat Tentacles. In-universe this is explained as the Marker's control over dead biological matter, and when a Marker is destroyed all Necromorphs in the area end up dissolving.
  • Bittersweet Ending: How some stories end if the protagonists are lucky. Usually, they will accomplish some goal before getting ripped to shreds.
  • Blatant Item Placement: Enemies will often drop health when the main character is about to die, and often drop the right ammo needed for whatever weapons are being carried.
  • Body Horror: And how! Horrifically mutilated and contorted corpses trying to tear you to pieces? Yep. Horrific death scenes? Yep. Peng? Yep.
  • Book Ends:
    • The series begins with Isaac Clarke looking at a recording of Nicole, his girlfriend. The third game ends with him looking at a photograph of Ellie, whom he had entered into a relationship with after he had gotten over his guilt over Nicole's death.
    • The first game begins with the Kellion shocking into the orbit of Aegis VII and attempting to open communications with the Ishimura; the failure of which is the first hint that something isn't right. Dead Space 3: Awakening ends with Isaac and Carver shocking into Earth's orbit and trying to raise communications with EarthGov on several channels, getting silence on almost all of them... only for the last channel to finally erupt into bloodcurdling screams, revealing that the Brethren Moons have already reached the planet. Both of these sequences also end with crash-landings.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Averted with a vengeance: Oh sure, feel free to ignore the multiple warnings of "Cut off their limbs" written in blood across the walls of the ghost ship Ishimura; watch as your delight turns to horror as the now headless space zombie continues charging at you to claw you into iddy biddy little pieces.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Plasma Cutter is a very basic weapon that fires a single energy blast and itís secondary fire merely changes the orientation of the projectile. However itís very good at severing limbs, very accurate, and moderately ammo efficient, making it a nearly essential part of any loadout.
  • Captain Crash: Almost every vehicle Isaac gets into ends up broken.
  • Captain Ersatz: The church of Unitology bears absolutely, positively no resemblance to the church of Scientology.
  • Church of Happyology: Unitology, obviously. Word of God is that they were designed to evoke a generic religious cult rather than Scientology specifically, so presumably the name was to make sure the joke didn't go over your head. By the time the second game rolled around they realized they had just created "Scientology in space" after all, so they rolled with it, creating a recruitment center with audio logs discussing which poor suckers they could sell the most books to.
  • Computer Voice: Used frequently, both male and female, the Ishimura's is a female voice, but some military ships have a male voice.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The series has a universe filled with omnicidal Planet Eater Eldritch Abominations that have consumed every other species up until mankind, undead alien zombies created by esoteric alien technology, and to cap it off, the series seemingly ends with the said eldritch abominations finding and consuming all life on earth.
  • Crapsack World: Even without the Necromorphs, mankind in the Dead Space-verse is pretty banged up: Unitology is the dominant religion of dubious moral values, bureaucrats tend to use employees as tools in far worse ways than in Real Life, and safety regulations are lacking. The sad story of Howard, the caretaker of the Sprawl's solar arrays is example enough.
    • There is evidence that humanity itself is circling the drain. Planetcracking came as a saving grace at a time when economic collapse and subsequent extinction due to resource starvation were very close at hand. Furthermore, that solution isn't sustainable, and humanity is still limping on its way to disaster. In many ways, the horrifically unethical experiments that EarthGov has repeatedly performed on the Markers are the only hope humanity has of long-term survival.
    • The third game reveals that the reason space is 'dead' is because every other sentient species that preceded humanity fell into the same downward spiral and succumbed to the Markers' temptation in an attempt to save themselves.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Mostly averted. The Necromorphs can dismember, and thereby kill, Isaac even if his RIG's Life Meter is halfway full.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Averted half the time. While Necromorphs do attack in the dark, and it is scary, they also attack in the light, which is also scary.
  • Dialog During Gameplay: Thanks to the RIG, Isaac can maintain conversations with his Mission Control, either on video or audio.
  • Diegetic Interface: Isaac's RIG. It's visible to other characters and has a holographic display that faces him; it's even possible to move the camera so that the player can't see it.
  • Downer Ending: Most stories in this series end this way.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Uh... NO! "Happy" is NOT the word! When you are around a Necromorph outbreak, the best kind of ending you can hope for is "Bittersweet". And even then, you gotta WORK for it!
    • Despite the dark ending of Dead Space, DS2 leads up to DS3 by featuring the somewhat happy result of Isaac on a ship with trained pilot Ellie, and safely getting back to civilization. You could almost consider this a straight up Earn Your Happy Ending. Then you remember the thousands of men, women, children, and babies you had to dismember after they were horribly killed and turned into monsters. Even if Isaac never sees a Necromorph again, he'll probably never have another good night's sleep without heavy medication.
    • The second game ends on a slightly brighter note, with Isaac being able to confide in Ellie when he needs to and having recovered to a reasonable extent from Nicole's suicide. However, he is now officially a government fugitive, as is she. Also, even though Tiedemann is dead and the Marker is destroyed, The Stinger implies that the Marker of this game was only one of several created by EarthGov and are still a threat to Earth, along with the Church of Unitology still being a growing problem.
    • DS2's DLC Pack Severed is incredibly bittersweet. Lexine escapes with her baby, but is the only remaining survivor of Extraction, not to mention Gabe (her partner and child's father) is dead and she is a fugitive from EarthGov.
    • Dead Space 3 couldn't be more bittersweet. Sweet: Ellie didn't die and manages to escape, Isaac and Carver fight and kill the Brother Moon, and the Markers/Necromorphs have been stopped, at least for now. Bitter: Ellie loses Isaac after confessing her love, the Unitologists are probably still a threat, there may be more Markers/Necromorphs, and Isaac and Carver are either a) dead or b) alive and stranded on Tau Volantis.
      • Outright averted with the Dead Space 3 DLC "Awakened." Turns out there is no sweet ending in the Dead Space universe in the foreseeable future. There are many other moons like the one over Tau Volantis that finished convergence and at the end you find out they are already at Earth, liberating its inhabitants of its sweet, delicious biomass. No longer circling the drain, humanity is now being chopped up in the garbage disposal.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Dead Space is the only one where the Locator can't be set to find the nearest Save Point and Bench. It's also the only one with canned air and non-regenerating Stasis. The RIG health bar only features square segments in 1 as well, as opposed to interlocking triangles everywhere else.
    • Story-wise, the Markers seem to want to stop the necromorphs in 1 and Martyr, influencing Issac and Kyne into placing it back onto the broadcast station for its Power Nullifier and telling the scientists at the facility to stop their experiments, but in 2 and 3, the Markers relay the Brother Moon's telepathic emanations, releasing limitless energy as they do so, acting like anglerfish lures to any sapient races who find them (humans, volantians, and countless others.)
  • Eye Scream: Every numbered entry into the franchise features bad things happening to eyeballs. In Dead Space, Kyne accidentally kills Captain Mathius by stabbing him in the eye with a sedative. In 2, Ellie gets one of her eyes gouged out, and Isaac later has to undergo do-it-yourself eye surgery. And in 3, the Final Boss gets twenty-foot tall markers launched through its eyes.
  • Evil Tainted the Place: Anywhere a Necromorph outbreak has taken place can likely never be truly declared fully safe, even after the outbreak has ended. The Ishimura quickly garners a reputation of being haunted even after the events of the first game, with the janitors and technicians on the sprawl charged with fixing her up reporting strange noises and odd occurrences. And this was before the Site 12 Marker started waking the dead.
  • Fantastic Firearms:
    • Several Necromorphs (Spitters, Brutes, several boss monsters) have the ability to launch pods of explosive bile (while it's referred to as "spitting", they usually have a specialized organ dedicated to lobbing them), acting as grenadiers for the undead horde.
    • Others (Lurkers, Guardian Pods) have a whipping tendril that can cock back and fling sharp shards of bone so fast the air burns.
    • Lastly, some others (Nests, Medusae) can launch organic heat-seeking missiles through some unknown means.
    • On Team Human, the pulse rifle uses gravity manipulation to fire, and some models (the one in Dead Space 2) can shoot 50 shots at once to act as a Grenade Launcher.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Unitologists are derisively called Marker-heads.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Shockpoint drive. The specifics are kinda glossed over, but we see a diagram of the Kellion going through a Wormhole (although the Dead Space Wiki states that it's likely an Alcubierre Drive based on how spacetime goes wide in back and narrow upfront, but the in-game diagram shows a tube), and the Expanded Universe shows that it uses a Portal Network.
  • Flatline: Whenever someone wearing a RIG dies (most notably, Isaac), a flatline plays from their suit.
  • Flesh Golem: Taken to its logical extreme with the Brethren Moons, enormous Necromorphs make up from the entire converted biosphere of a planet.
  • Fun with Acronyms: RIG stands for Resource Integration Gear.
  • Gaia's Lament: By the 23rd century, Earth was not doing well. The Global Warming Epidemic has lead to sea levels rising, allowing for the formation of "trinity hurricanes" and drowning cities like New York, Venice and Hong Kong. Billions of refugees were pushed inland, leading to a massive surge of migration to inland cities and furthering pollution levels. In addition, the planet's non-renewable resources were largely used up and her colonies weren't providing enough to meet humanity's needs, leading to the Resource Wars, a conflict that also stretched to other planets. It wasn't until the invention of planet cracking in 2508 that these conflicts came to an end.
    • And even without the Resource Wars, things weren't exactly rosy off-world. A few years before the events on Aegis VII, Mars underwent a series of violent pro-Martian independence riots, which were brutally put down by EarthGov with the deaths hundreds, possibly thousands, of protestors.
  • Grid Inventory: Present in Dead Space, Dead Space 2, and Dead Space 3.
  • Gorn: Oh my yes. Necromorphs don't just claw or bite their victims, they stab them through the abdomen, or rip their heads off, etc. Also, to kill a Necromorph, you generally have to dismember it.
  • Holographic Terminal: Both regular ones for starships, and personal ones for backpacks.
  • Humanity Is Insane: Considering the amount of horrifying and traumatizing shit Isaac is forced to go through, he's arguably a lot safer fighting the hideous undead Necromorphs than he is deciding which humans he should trust as they are likely to be (1) unlucky people driven insane by the Marker, (2) EarthGov like Kendra Daniels, or (3) deluded or conniving Unitologists in the form of Daina or Challus Mercer. What few good, sane people out there are few and far between, with a good half of them either horribly killed or driven bonkers by the Marker.
  • Iconic Outfit: The Level 3 Rig was featured in all promotional media for Dead Space (including the image for this very page), and appeared under the name Engineering Suit as the first suit found in Dead Space 2 and as a game completion unlockable for 3. If Isaac has a cameo in some other EA game, chances are he will be wearing that suit.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Many of the unique characters' faces are modeled after their voice actors and actresses.
  • Interface Spoiler: The subtitles in all three main games are very poorly timed, though Dead Space 3 is possibly the worst offender. Often, there will be several sentences of text on the screen which the voice actor might not finish reading for up to 30 seconds for dramatic effect. The subtitles can cancel out the drama by spoiling the revelations contained in the dialogue before the actor can get to it.
  • Improvised Weapon: 99% of Issac`s weapons are modified tools intended for Asteroid Mining. The only real gun is the Pulse Rifle.
  • Jack of All Stats: The Plasma Cutter doesnít have the damage output of the Contact Beam, the coverage of the Line Gun, or the stunning capabilities of the Pulse Rifle or Ripper but it has a good balance of each and will perform very well in any scenario. The only thing it lacks is crowd control so Swarmers in particular can be difficult to take out with only a cutter.
  • Justified Save Point: The save points are represented as photo booths that synch a user's RIG with the main computer, telling it who and where they are, their health status, and what they have on them (not for nothing is it called "Resource Intergration Gear," and yes, it's used to check for stolen goods and contraband).
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: 3 is the only game in the series that uses resource scavenging and Item Crafting instead of power nodes and shops, and Ikea Weaponry instead of prefab guns. It is also the only installment to have Co-Op Multiplayer. There are even segments where the player faces off with living human enemies with guns, complete with a cover mechanic to protect yourself from enemy fire.
  • Latex Space Suit: Not typical of Isaac's suits, which usually are bulky as befitting his position as an engineer, but casual ones are shown to be skin-tight. The Advanced Suit from 2 is an example.
  • Life Meter: The R.I.G. has a spine-mounted life meter, which is actually in-universe and not just a convenience for the player. All adults wear them.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The game actually requires you to dismember the necromorphs in creative ways, since simply shooting them in the head isn't enough to kill them. On the flipside, many of Isaac's death animations involve him getting graphically dismembered.
  • Made of Plasticine: Due to the gore-friendly engines of the games, Necromorphs can sometimes sever your limbs (or head) with a casual swipe at your body if you only have one hit point left. Not to be outdone though, Necromorph and human corpses alike can be chopped up into little bits by simply stomping on them.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Fail to escape a Necromorph's grasp in time, or take too much damage, and you'll see Issac get torn apart, eaten, and beheaded. With so many ways to die, it can be a combination of that and more, and often not necessarily in that order. Misteps in certain non-combat segments add to that list.
  • Meaningful Name: The title of the series itself. "Dead space" refers to the fact that the Necromorphs have already completely decimated and consumed countless planets and species between their original home and humanity's solar system, leaving a large vacuum of "dead space" between them; humans are alone with the necromorphs, and no other species are coming to help.
    • Brilliant engineer turned Necromorph killer Isaac Clarke's name is also significant, taken from science fiction authors "Isaac" Asimov and Arthur C. "Clarke".
    • Michael Altman is almost certainly named after B. K. Evenson's first published book, an anthology entitled Altmann's Tongue; most of them border on True Art Is Incomprehensible but a consistent theme is that of corrupted religions and people doing abhorrent things for their faiths.
  • Menu Time Lockout: Completely averted in all three games. Accessing your inventory, buying items out of vending machines, and even upgrading your rig does not pause the game around you. A careless player can easily get killed by a necromorph sneak attack this way, so it's best to make sure no enemies are around before you use one. Though there are a few pre-scripted jump scares at item stores and work benches. The only action that plays this straight is saving the game at a save station.
  • Mundane Utility: The Dead Space universe uses high-tech plasma cutters as the equivalent of a pickaxe, as well as all the other incredibly powerful (by modern standards) tools and tech being used in a casual manner. Kinesis is constantly used in places where moving things by hand would work just as well.
  • Money Is Experience Points: Credits are generally used for both upgrades and buying med packs and ammo.
  • No Hero Discount: While the stores are all automated, this doesn't answer the question of why Isaac doesn't just hack all the stores to get items for free. Given that Isaac is shown to be capable of some very impressive rewiring tricks, and how vital items are to your success (items that have no limit for purchase at a single store, and the game's RPG Elements come in the form of Power Nodes that can be bought in stores), there's no reason why Isaac never even tries to go for the five fingered discount.
    • Then again, the shop is possibly the most complex device you see, capable of dispensing ammo, health, even changing out power armor on command. It probably has some pretty bad-ass defenses protecting it; again, it can cut off and replace power armor so it can be assumed it has at least as strong a laser as the plasma cutter, which we've all seen is powerful enough to rip people to shredded ribbons of flesh.
  • No OSHA Compliance: OSHA might as well have stayed back on earth, for all the good it does in the future. Tanks on ships to regrow lost limbs in accidents as well as easily shattered expansion windows that can decompress an entire area are just two of the more common violations.
  • No Product Safety Standards: A good thing, as doors and weapons would be far less deadly otherwise, though one has to wonder about the social consequences. Apparently, the tools were modified by the Ishimura crew to be used as weapons, but doesn't explain why the modified tools are in the store (or why the Corporals' pulse rifles disappeared).
    • Presumably, the stores use 3D-printing to provide merchandise, which is why you have to find schematics in order to gain access to new goods. Selling one of your guns at the store simply means the printer gets to scan and duplicate it at will.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The correct term is "necromorph."
  • Once per Episode: Having Keith Szarabajka voice a plot important character. In 1, he voices Dr. Kyne, in 2 it's implied Kyne is providing the expository intro, and in 3 he voices General Mahad.
  • One-Way Visor: Most helmets.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Not actual ghosts, but Markers are capable of making people hallucinate dead loved ones, with no live ones shown.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Necromorphs and their methods of initiating the Zombie Apocalypse are very... unique. They're created when a "marker" (which is basically an alien statue with electromagnetic properties) is activated; a high frequency signal is sent out that transforms the flesh of any dead organism it comes into contact with into a Necromorph; a reanimated corpse that's had its body twisted into stronger (not to mention grotesque) forms with the sole purpose being to kill and infect as many creatures as possible. Only corpses can be transformed into Necromorphs and only certain types of Necromorphs can transform them (appropriately named Infectors); to this end, most Necromorph types simply kill as many people as they can so the Infectors can get to work on the bodies. Individual Necromorphs can only be stopped by either dismembering their limbs or destroying their bodies completely, and unlike the typical zombie, even one is far too fast and strong for an unarmored or unarmed human to stop.
    • Once enough Necromorph tissue is created on one planet, a nearby marker will begin "convergence"; the Necromorphs all morph into one and literally transform the entire planet into a massive and sentient Necromorph refered to as a "Brother Moon". It doesn't stop there though; the original marker signal that created the first necromorphs has a secondary function to cause insanity and catatonia in beings of average intelligence (which typically causes them to kill each other or become too shell shocked to defend themselves, respectively) while intelligent creatures are implanted with an obsessive desire to create more markers. As a result, there will always be plenty of markers emitting signals and while the Brother Moons go on to destroy planets near them, the new marker signal starts another Necromorph outbreak millions of miles away at the same time.
  • Planet Looters: Humanity. We need natural resources, having depleted all of Earth's, and go out breaking down random planets in space to get them; only a matter of time before we pick up an unexpected guest along with our resources.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some complain that the chance of almost all of Isaac's weapons being re-purposed tools strains credibility. For example, why would a tool called the "Plasma Cutter" shoot out a single, non-continuous burst? Then you remember that Dynamite was originally intended for peaceful purposes by inventor Alfred Nobel, and was used for war. Not to mention the real life section of Improbable Weapon User.
    • It's mentioned that a lot of what you pick up, is modified to more effectively fight the Necromorphs, the prequel movie provides a possible unmodified version of the Plasma Cutter, which was something more like a Plasma chainsaw.
  • Red Shirt Army: Kinda necessary to increase the Necromorph bunch.
    • Special mention has to be given to the army platoon in Dead Space (who, it should be noted, were explicitly advised about dangerous biological threats being present and were fully combat-ready upon entering the system) that is taken out by a single Necromorph. It was best said on the page for Dead Space: "Oh Dead Space army, you fail so hard. Maybe you should send the troops into mining engineering classes."
  • Religion Is Right: Unitology, strictly speaking, is completely honest in its claims. They just happen to be a little vague about/ignorant of the specifics.
  • Running Gag: The Hand Cannon, a foam finger that kills everything in one hit, has infinite ammo, and causes Isaac to say ďBangĒ or ďPewĒ each time itís used. Itís usually awarded for beating the games on the highest difficulty.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale:
    • Itís stated that planet cracking is unsustainable even though theyíre mining an entire planet of its resources and there are estimated to be 100 billion planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone.
    • The entire point that the process of planet cracking is necessary for the continued prosperity of humans is suspect. This implies that humankind in the setting somehow uses up within a few years several thousand times more metal than we have through the entirety of human history. This is before we even get to things like the logistics of transporting a significant percentage of the entire volume of a planet.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: The Plasma Cutter doesnít have any gimmicks. Itís merely a weapon that fires a cutting blast of energy and can have itís orientation switched between horizontal and vertical with itís secondary fire. Those traits alone make it possibly the best weapon in the series.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Unless there's a sequel, the Awakened DLC for 3 turns the franchise into one of these; everything Isaac and every other protagonist struggled for falls apart, and the Brethren Moons are in the process of consuming Earth.
  • Shout-Out: There is no way that the name Isaac Clarke is just a coincidence.
  • Space Is Noisy: Averted throughout the franchise. Space is very, very silent, and you only hear things when they make direct physical contact with your character. Even the music gets muted. This is also pushed into the Nothing Is Scarier territory, where a great majority of boss fights and scripted scenes are fought in near-total silence with epic setpieces. Finally, this is a pun on "dead".
  • Starfish Aliens: The necromorph. Some can pass for human (at a distance, in the dark), while others have huge claws and vestigial arms, and still others are nothing more than a blob of meat sprouting Combat Tentacles. 3 showed Necromorph Aliens, although no living version of the species.
  • Starfish Language: The Markers communicate by showing you visions of your dead loved ones in various conditions.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The series loves using this in trailers. Dead Space featured "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in its trailers, and it plays faintly in a later level of the game. Dead Space 2 uses a distorted version of "Ring Around the Rosie". Dead Space 3, rather than using a lullaby, goes with a cover of Phil Collin's "In the Air Tonight".
  • Spiritual Successor: The Dead Space series seems to be this to the System Shock series, sharing the same quasi-Cyberpunk universe, Parasite Zombie monsters, and survival horror gameplay. The only real difference is that it's a Third-Person Shooter series instead of a FPS RPG mash-up.
  • Success Through Insanity: Isaac Clarke has the blueprints of the Marker in his head. This makes him the perfect guy to go about killing the source(s) of the Necromorphs, and allows him to read and decipher Marker texts. It also makes him paranoid, schizophrenic, and he often hallucinates dead people talking to him. Which is pretty par for the course for anyone who's survived close contact with a Marker, to be fair.
  • Superpowered Mooks: Mysterious covert operatives referred to as Oracles appear in Salvage and Dead Space 2: Severed. It's unclear whether they work for the Unitologists or EarthGov, but they exhibit Jedi powers and imply that they're top-level spec ops agents sent to deal with the highest-level covert incidents, such as Necromorph outbreaks.
  • The Remnant: By the time of Dead Space 3, the once powerful EarthGov has been totally wiped out by the Unitologists uprising, with the platoon that you work with being the last remnants of their military.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: A common problem the Marker causes is to make people think they see their dead loved ones and think they are real.
  • Used Future: The Ishimura is old by the start of the story. It is stated that, after another year, it was going to be decommissioned.
  • Wall Crawl: Leapers and Lurkers in all three main games are quite fond of doing this, often using it to attack from unexpected angles, leaving you spinning around pointing your weapon at just about every wall and ceiling in sight. Dead Space 2 adds Crawlers to the roster.
  • Your Heart's Desire: This is partially how the Markers sucker their victims into coveting them, giving those of a religious bent a divine power to follow, while baiting in their more science-focused pawns with the promise of unlimited electromagnetic energy. Regardless of what it offers, the outcome is the same: madness and devastation under a tide of living death.


Video Example(s):


Isaac Clarke's Helmet

When Isaac puts on his Engineering Suit in Dead Space 2 (or any other suit for that matter), the helmet is built around his face. You can even see the small metallic arm placing the front side of his helmet from his chest-plate in this example.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / CollapsibleHelmet

Media sources: