The Dead Space series certainly has a lot of unsettling atmosphere and intriguing narrative to go around, but a lot of the franchise’s appeal has always come from its trademark shocking moments. In anticipation of the upcoming Dead Space 3, we’re going to run through our top five disturbing moments from the series.
Keep in mind that we didn’t include any of the numerous “game over” Isaac death scenes. Sure, those are suitably grotesque, but they’re not quite as unexpected as some of the game’s other moments, since you usually know you’re going to die if your health is low. For this list, we’re empathizing the truly disturbing moments; the ones that came out of nowhere and struck unexpectedly to created a lasting effect. Without further ado, let’s dissect our choices.
5. Unexpected Neck Shave (Dead Space 2)
When you first encounter that nameless crazy guy during Dead Space 2’s opening minutes, he quickly grabs Isaac and holds him at knifepoint while sporting a malevolent grin. It’s pretty clear that this is a dangerous and unhinged fellow, giving players every reason to fear him.
That’s exactly why his next course of action was so unexpected. After reluctantly letting Isaac have a flashlight and medkit from the locker of a nearby wall, players quickly turned around to see the maniac slitting his own throat with the knife and proceeding to slump down against a wall, loudly gurgling all the way. If that’s not disturbing, we don’t know what is.
4. Baby Boom… Literally (Dead Space 2)
Babies are adorable, right? You might be tempted to rethink that after seeing a Crawler for the first time in this shocking moment from Dead Space 2.
Once Isaac makes it to The Sprawl’s elementary school section, he happens across a window which grants him a clear view of a unitologist woman in a pleasant little classroom. Across from her is a weirdly deformed and glowing baby slowly crawling into her open, welcoming hands. Okay, a little creepy, but still harmless. It’s just a small infant, after all.
Then the baby suddenly explodes, coating the room and the window with the red stuff. It then becomes impossible to see through the window anymore, but knowing what happened in there, most players probably didn’t want to anyway.
3. Give Them A Hand (Dead Space: Extraction)
(skip ahead to 8:00)
Let’s give the Wii title Dead Space: Extraction some love, shall we? Sure, it was a rail shooter as opposed to a third-person shooter, but it still had some brutally affecting moments in its own right, the highlight of which has to be this shocking display of razor-sharp quick thinking.
After a heart-pounding boss fight with a giant necromorph outside of the space station, you make a dash inside to get some air. Unfortunately, one of the boss’ arms is still moving, and your hand is suddenly impaled by one of the pincer projectiles it shoots at you just before you can get through the door. You’re now effectively nailed to the ground, your air is quickly running out and your cutter is incapable of slicing through the thick projectile.
As a last resort, you have to cut through your own wrist and separate your hand from your arm to proceed. After several deep slices through the bone accompanied by screams of pain from the protagonist, your arm is finally free and profusely bleeding from the stump. And now you’ll probably never touch a power tool in real life again.
2. Return To The Ishimura (Dead Space 2)
This one was not so much a moment as it was an entire level, but it was extremely effective nonetheless for anybody who played the first game.
At one point in Dead Space 2, Isaac is forced to revisit the Ishimura, the planet-cracker that most of the first game took place on. Although there’s been an attempt reconstruct and remodel it, it’s dark foreboding halls still inspire dread and bring back terrifying memories. It’s here where the necromorph battles are some of the most challenging in the entire game, and the occasional video log you pick up that mentions the ship being potentially haunted only adds to the hopelessness. Every horrifying detail that defined the ship seems to have lived on and remained more or less intact despite the efforts made to clean it up, prompting Isaac to literally face his past. This section could have easily been a lazy recycling job, but instead it was a carefully constructed and depressing shot of nostalgia that rivaled the return to Shadow Moses in Metal Gear Solid 4.
1. “Stick A Needle In Your Eye” (Dead Space 2)
The #1 spot goes to the infamous eye-poke machine scene from Dead Space 2. Really, what else were you expecting to top this list?
At one point late in the game, Isaac is prompted to enter a machine and poke his eye with its needle. You, as the player, control said needle. Here’s the catch, though; you have to carefully penetrate the cornea in order to keep the procedure relatively painless. Missing the mark will cause an abrupt and rather graphic mess.
I remember hearing about this moment from my friends just days after the game came out, which didn’t really do much to make it less shocking when I eventually played it myself. This is the moment that has become synonymous with the series and encapsulates everything it’s about; gore, tension, uncertainty, the fear of screwing up, and morbidly unfortunate situations.
What’s your favorite disturbing Dead Space moment? Let us know! Dead Space 3 releases on Feb. 5 for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.
Honorable Mention: Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2
Watching this embarrassing attempt at marketing was pretty terrifying in itself. We could only watch in horror as all the overplayed misconceptions regarding gamers and violence came to life before our very eyes. It certainly created a lasting effect, for better or worse; just not for the right reasons.