For many, the idea of being lost in space is pretty terrifying all on its own. But to be trapped in a spaceship with a bunch of hostile creatures that all want to kill you? Yeah, that’s probably a lot worse – and that’s the premise of Dead Space, a horror series that celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.
The original Dead Space, which released for Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 13, 2008, put players in the shows of Isaac Clarke, a ship engineer who’s trapped on a mining vessel infested with aggressive aliens. In the year 2508, Isaac is sent out to the USG Ishimura, a mining starship that has sent out a distress signal. Isaac is sent to the ship in order to make repairs and rescue its crew, but along the way discovers audio logs that help piece together what happened on the Ishimura – the crew found a relic of the Unitology religion known as the Red Marker, and shortly after retrieving it, began experiencing violent hallucinations resulting in murders.
The Red Marker carries the genetic code for an alien virus that turns corpses into what are called Necromorphs – mutated, reanimated corpses that spread their infection through attacking and turning other humans. Isaac must avoid the Necromorphs or otherwise defeat them when he’s able, and eventually learns that he may be able to control the Necromorphs’ hive mind via the use of another relic, the Black Marker; he’s able to do so, in order to create a “dead space” that forces the Necromorphs into dormancy.
Two direct sequels to the game were released; Dead Space 2 picks up the story and focuses on the impact that Isaac’s interaction with the Markers may have permanently had on him, while Dead Space 3 expands the story with the final goal of destroying the Necromorphs and the alien virus for good. Three spinoffs have also been made: Dead Space: Extraction, a prequel, and Dead Space Ignition and the mobile title simply called Dead Space both of which are set between the first and second titles.
The series proved to be popular enough to see multiple comic books, with Dead Space published by Image Comics, Dead Space: Salvage published by IDW, and Dead Space: Liberation published by Titan, as well as a pair of novels. Two animated films, Dead Space: Downfall and Dead Space: Aftermath, were also released.
The most recent game, Dead Space 3, released in 2013; though sales were lower than expected, publisher EA and developer Visceral Games had expressed interest in continuing the series. However, Visceral shut down in 2017, leaving this horror/sci-fi story’s future uncertain.