Dr. Carrie Hall
Horrors of Space
Space is dreadful. The box art for Dead Space portrays that perfectly. The floating debris, from what I assume is the ship your character is set in, shows the hopelessness and lifelessness of space. The floating hand also foreshadows the unfortunate events that have occured on the USG Ishimura. You play as an Engineer named Isaac Clarke, who is accompanied with crew members answering a distress call coming from the USG Ishimura. Isaac Clarke also is in search for his girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, who works as a senior medical officer.
The cover leaves a grim image of what I encountered while I was playing that game. The image of the hand in space reminds me that it is the only “normal” thing in the whole universe of Dead Space. I say the hand is “normal” because everything in the ship is everything but normal. You are fighting monsters called, Necromorphs, which you find out are people that get reanimated by this alien object called the marker. The necromorphs are past the point of having none human features that it is a nightmare for whoever playing Dead Space with a weak stomach for horror and gore. The cover also reminds me of the silence you’ll be hearing inside the ship of the Ishimura. Besides silence, you also hear the unnatural screams of the necromorphs echoing from the silent corridors and hallways of the Ishimura.
The back of the cover show two unsightly creatures that Isaac is combating. This gives the sense that he is fighting other worldly creatures. The most amazing thing about what’s happening in the pictures are that Isaac Clarke is not even trained in combat but he is forced to adapt so that he does not die from the onslaught of necromorphs. The back of the cover also has a small little description that reads “STRATEGICALLY DISMEMBER the Necromorph enemies limbs by bloody limbs”. This leaves a dread feeling to the person picking up the game and reading the back because what type of monster exists where shooting its vital organs does not put the monster down. The game tells and teaches you that you have to remove their limbs which is a strangely new concept to a horror survival game. It truly does not feel right at all when you are being told to kill monsters in a “non traditional” way. By “non traditional” I mean like you would shoot for the head or shoot for the body, but not with necromorphs. They will keep coming after you even if you shoot off their heads and can take multiple hits on the body. This gives the player a sense of dread because it will still try to kill you even if you remove it’s head.
In one of the pictures in the cover, Isaac is fighting a Brute. The brute is a large necromorph that is larger than your normal necromorph and has armor. It is comparable to a gorilla when maneuvering. Imagine going up against an armored creature comparable to a monkey that is trying to rip you to pieces? The picture also shows a little bit of the environment you will be in, which is the USG Ishimura. It is open but also narrow. As GB Burford puts it “Right off the bat, Dead Space creates these places you’re in that are often huge. The sense of scale in the game is breathtaking, yet it’s used to make the player feel claustrophobic. Players feel dwarfed in comparison to the vast spaces and gigantic monsters within. Couple that with limited resources, and players feel particularly small and powerless”. This is a perfect sum up of how the USG Ishimura is, it is narrow and you have barely any breathing room when crossing through hallways but when encountering boss battles; The environment is super spacious. Having the corridors of the ship be so narrow makes me worried because if I get attacked by multiple necromorphs, it would be really hard to try to maneuver away. I would either have to completely turn around and let them attack me while my back is to them or fight them head on. You feel trapped in the tight corridors but you also feel calm and collected before the boss enters into the large open area you are in.
The back of the cover also talks about zero gravity, which are certain areas in the game that do not have gravity at all. This was also an interesting point of the game because not a lot of games had that at that time. I was excited when I saw gameplay in the zero-g environment. It seemed like Isaac was really clunky and was not as maneuverable. This was a little nerve racking because enemies still appear during the zero-g sections of the game, they are a little more maneuverable than you are. Plus when you are outside and just in space, it unnerving. “Space is a frightening place, even without the monsters; a soundless, airless void where nothing can survive. Even in the most well-fortified spaceship, you’re still moments away from death.” (Fahey). The Ishimura was a well fortified ship but as you play as Isaac, you find out how there are no survivors on that ship at all. Certain parts of the ship there are blood splatters, but majority of the ship is just eerily empty. I feel tense when going to the next chapters because I don’t know what I will be facing.
Dead Space should be a game you should try because it has a ton of tense moments that will keep you on your toes and ready for whatever comes next. I don’t think it is that scary because you have something to defend yourself, but even if you don’t find it scary, it does make you on edge about what will jump out at you at any time. This is a game worth the time if you are interested in space and horror. You may also find out why there is a hand on the cover of the game and how terrifying space really is.
- Burford, and GB Burford. “How The Dead Space Saga Lost Its Way.” Kotaku, Kotaku.com, 30 Sept. 2014, kotaku.com/how-the-dead-space-saga-lost-its-way-1640762555.
- Fahey, Mike. “Dead Space Review: True Stories Of Space Horror.” Kotaku, Kotaku.com, 30 Sept. 2014, kotaku.com/5068557/dead-space-review-true-stories-of-space-horror.