Dead Space (2008) | History of Horror


Pierce Turner

Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at every day for a new installment!

Yesterday, we talked about “Resident Evil 4”, one of the most seminal video games of all time, and how it inspired all horror games that followed. Perhaps the most obvious of these inspired games is “Dead Space”.

“Dead Space” is about a bunch of non-living things…in space. You play as Isaac Clarke, a mute who never takes off his stylish bucket-helmet. Isaac isn’t a badass supercop, he’s an engineer hired for tech support, so a nerd. Therefore, he won’t be very prepared for any scary things that come his way. Unfortunately, he stars in a game called “DEAD SPACE”.

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You arrive on the U.S.S. Ishimura for repairs and everything turns to s**t almost immediately. Monsters come out of vents and scream at you until your trusty space armor is filled with wet brown sauce and you’re tasked with running or being added to a tasty stir-fry. These “Necromorphs” are like zombies, but more…spiky. The biggest difference is that shooting their head doesn’t hurt them, in fact, it makes them more dangerous. Their weak spots are their limbs, and dismembering them is the only way to take them down for good. Luckily, Isaac uses all kinds of engineering lasers and tools perfect for cutting up spindly monsters.

What sets this game apart from just “Resident Evil 4 in space” is its story. Isaac is searching for his missing girlfriend aboard the nightmare ship, but he’s also discovering the source of these monsters, and the answer will surprise you. Saying more can lead into spoiler town and in space no one can hear you complain.

The combat also has unique twists. Isaac has a stasis ability and and a telekinesis gun in his arsenal that can spice up encounters. I like to cut off a particularly sharp limp from the spooks, slow them down with stasis, grab the limb with telekinesis, then impale them on the wall. There’s also a few areas where you enter zero gravity. Fighting Necromorphs in these areas is particularly harrowing because they can attack you from any direction; it’s like Market Day at the Student Union. He also has a stomp. Just look at it.

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There are two sequels. “Dead Space 2” (2011) gives Isaac a voice and adds the element of hallucinations caused by the traumatic events of the first game. “Dead Space 3” (2013) takes more of an action approach and is the weakest installment, but still worth playing. Unfortunately, Visceral, the studio behind these games, recently closed down. This is a series we can say with absolute certainty that is done forever. So, check them out, especially the original, if you want a few new nightmares for the week.

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