Hallowed Be Thy Game: Dead Space is a Brutal Gorefest in the Vacuum of Space


(Editor’s note: Let’s face it — most metalheads are a buncha nerds. To that end, Hallowed Be Thy Game is a weekly feature here on MetalSucks where we’ll highlight some of the metal-as-fuck board/video/tabletop role playing games we’re playing or have played in the past.)

Looking up at the night sky, it’s easy to imagine the unknowable possibilities that only just seem out of reach. And while not knowing is what sent man hurdling into that blackened void, that same inky expanse of outer space is more hostile to life than anything on Earth. Like the cold ringing notes that start Mastodon’s Crack the Skye or cosmic horror elements that permeate Revocation’s The Outer Ones, there’s a very real existential dread that comes from that same unknowing. And if one game embodies that sense of dread and hopelessness in the deep recesses of the void, it’s the 2008 sci-fi survival horror release Dead Space.

Developed by Motive Studio, Dead Space puts the player in the metallic boots of a hapless systems engineer named Isaac Clarke. Set in the 26th century, Clarke is sent along with a search and rescue team to investigate why the USG Ishimura, a massive mining ship literally used for cracking planets open for its resources, suddenly went dark. Get her back online and visit Clarke’s girlfriend Nicole (who’s also on that ship) and everything’s hunky-dory.

At least that’s what was supposed to happen. Things are normal for all of about five minutes before the situation goes belly up and you’re left watching mutated human corpses known as necromorphs rip your friends apart. With no weapons in hand and those same abominations closing in, you’re forced to leave any possible survivors to fend for themselves as you sprint away from the carnage.

Alone in a ship that’s falling apart and teeming with deformed creatures filled with murderous intent, that’s the jarring and brilliant start to one of the better action horror games to come out of the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era.

Unlike most sci-fi shooters where you’re usually armed to the teeth, Dead Space has you experience its dark and bleak environments as a simple engineer. You’re not there to fight, so the only weapons you gain are the maintenance and mining tools you find along the way. Seriously, your most trusty killing implement is a plasma cutter used to chip pieces off of boulders. And while you slowly find more powerful and varied weapons over time and upgrade existing ones, there’s just one small rub — ammo is scarce. So most of the time you’re left wondering if it’s worth it to fire away at the swinging mass of oncoming death hurdling your way or if it’s wiser to run.

You learn pretty early on that these monstrosities are nigh impervious to direct damage, but have one major weakness: dismemberment. Use your cutters to quickly sever an attacker’s limbs and they fall apart like a house of squelching, foul smelling cards. As the body counts rise and the chaos swirls around you, fights begin to resemble an Autopsy or Bloodbath album. It’s nothing but severed limbs, curb stomped heads, viscera torn every which way, and Issac Clarke barely holding on to life the entire time.

As if the necromorphs weren’t enough danger to deal with, don’t forget you’re on a ship that’s on the verge of collapse. There are environmental hazards around every turn that can damage, maim, and kill you in a moment’s notice. And let’s not forget the cold hostility of space, which you come in direct contact with multiple times throughout the game. Spend too much time out of the ship and you’re a meat popsicle.

The game also does a great job of using sound to ratchet up the tension and convey how absolutely fucked you are. Walking down the Ishimura’s blood soaked corridors, you regularly hear necromorphs skittering around in the vents or in the walls, so you never know when a surprise attack is coming thanks to the weird creaks and shuffling noises that fill the air. Oh and let’s talk about air. The moment there’s no air and you’re in the vacuum of deep space, the game does an insanely good job of using sound to convey the fact that fact every shot, every scream, every slash and pop would sound sound muffled, since sound doesn’t travel well without an atmosphere.

Shit constantly ratchets up in Dead Space, leaving you with little breathing room until the final moments of the game. The series went on to have two more sequels, with some of the most gruesome and spine-tingling moments taking poor Isaac Clarke to the brink and back.

We’re only a couple months away from the remake, where we’ll get to relive Clarke’s no good very bad workday in high fidelity 4K goodness, which you can check out the trailer below.

Dead Space was released in 2008 and is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The Dead Space Remake will be coming out on January 23, 2023 for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

  • Dead Space
  • Dead Space
  • Dead Space
  • Dead Space
Show Comments
Metal Sucks Greatest Hits