The Let's Play Archive

Dead Space

by The Man with a Hat

Part 15: Plot Dump

You were warned.

We've unlocked a series of behind-the-scenes logs. There's no way that Isaac could have acquired them in-game, but they flesh out the backstory, so I'm not going to complain.

Character Logs


Background Request
To: Zach Hammond
Re: Background request

Per your request, here's what we could find on your hastily- assembled crew.


Isaac was born to Poul and Octavia Clark on Earth in the eastern seaboard region of the American Republic. Poul Clarke was an award-winning ship architect employed by the Galactic Union Marine Corp. His record show extended time off-world away from his family.

When Isaac was born, Poul was given a temporary reassignment to an Earth-based GUMMC ship production facility. During the four-year tour, Poul and Octavia raised Isaac together. When the tour was over, Poul shipped off for an extended off-world tour.

Poul's influence on his son must have rubbed off. Records indicate Isaac pursued studies in mechanical and electrical engineering and achieved high honors.

According to medical and psychiatric reports, Poul Clarke's absence had a profound effect on Octavia. She suffered from depression and personal anguish until doctors encouraged her to find fulfillment by working with charitable organizations. It is believed that this is how she ended up coming in contact with the Church of Unitology.

Her association with the Church appears to have alleviated her mental condition. The cancellation of her therapy sessions corresponds with the local parish announcements of her initiation ceremony.

At this point, records on her become somewhat scarce. There are indications that she sold off much of the family estate to finance her full membership in the church.

Isaac appears to have been selected to a prominent engineering school but we surmise that he was unable to afford the tuition, as records show that he instead attended a lesser-known school with the help of scholarships and financial assistance.

After graduating with high honors, Isaac enlisted in the Merchant Marines. He quickly gained a reputation for his resourceful engineering solutions and after two years was promoted to a higher-profile position closer to the major shipping lanes.

There are several inquiries about the location of his father that have been logged by his contacts at the GUMMC. Isaac appears to have been trying to re-unite with him unsuccessfully for years. It's doubtful he ever got far in his investigation as Poul Clarke's service record has been mysteriously classified by an executive order.

Octavia continues to be a contributing member of her church and has managed to purchase a Vested-level title.

Isaac's career stagnates at this point. There are records that he cohabited with a medical officer named Nicole Brennan for a couple of years. Records indicate she moved out after receiving a promotion and is currently serving on the USG Ishimura.
Huh, so the Clarkes have a bit of a Uni history. He must have loved it when he got a shot at Mercer.



I couldn't find anything on her in the time I had but Darlton swears by her. She is on the mission with his recommendation. If he thinks she has the necessary skills, who am I to argue?
"Oh hey, it looks like this woman has no records whatsoever. Surely that means she's trustworthy, and not any kind of secret agent."

Military Backstory Logs

"Dukaj, E." posted:

The Red Marker
(Restricted access - Maximum encryption)

Altman's hasty expulsion from the project is unfortunate. His notes on the Black Marker appear incomplete and our findings this far have been inconclusive. What notes we have recovered appear to be written in a code of his devising. It will be weeks before we can decipher them. In the meantime, someone has to shut him up. His public outcry about the Marker is more than a nuisance. This is a matter of security.
Guess that explains Altman's mysterious death. Surprising that his followers actually got something right.

"Dukaj, E." posted:

The continued financial infusion over the years has been appreciated and I'm pleased to share the results with you today. While some of our material fabrications are approximations of substances foreign to us, we have completed the internal workings of the device. One obvious difference between our replica and the original is the reddish hue. I assure you this is purely a cosmetic difference not indicative of a flaw.

The device, when activated, began to emit a highly complicated rhythmic pattern across a wide band of frequencies - from actual sound waves through the electromagnetic spectrum to alpha, delta, and theta brain waves. It seems mostly inert and harmless aside from some slight interference with communication equipment.

We are proceeding with the final construction.
"Apart from the fact that this metal thing apparently has brainwaves, everything's normal! Let's fire this bitch up."

"Dukaj, E." posted:

We've run into a disturbing but fascinating find. In re-creating the DNA instructions gleaned from the Black Marker, we've managed to create a recombinant microbial life form. It seemed dormant at first, even when placed in a bath of rich nutrients. Were it not for Dr. Clifton's poor hygiene, we might have deemed the attempt a failure. Fortunately for us, he had not fully decontaminated himself before working with the sample and managed to contaminate it with some dead skin cells. Suddenly, the microbes jumped into action! Recombination happened almost instantly and the sample began self-replicating and mutating before our eyes.
So... the military took an encoded DNA string from the writing on the Marker, whipped it up in the lab... then Doc Clifton didn't wash his hands, and inadvertently ended the world. Well done.

"Dukaj, E." posted:

More confounding results from our research: Today, as we moved what we're now calling the Red Marker, we had to pass by the cellular lab area. The scientists working at the time complained about interruptions in the necrotic flesh experiments. As it turns out, the field generated by the Marker creates a "dead space" around itself that forces the recombination effect into dormancy.

"Dukaj, E." posted:

I apologize for the setback relayed in the last report. The macro-scale infection has been contained with a minimal loss of life. The newly recombinated doctors are now quarantined for further study.
Best. Containment. Ever.

"Dukaj, E." posted:

Many of the scientists have been complaining of headaches and we are all having difficulty sleeping for more than an hour at a time. We suspect a problem in the ventilation system. The maintenance team reported finding a build-up of some kind blocking the airways.
"Also, it seems that Dr. Clifton has gone missing. All he left was a blood trail leading into a ventilation duct. I'm sure it's nothing major."

"Dukaj, E." posted:

The organic mass continues to expand and take over the complex. The recombinated nightmares now move freely through the corridors. My remaining crew is hastily constructing a transmitter for the Marker in an attempt to broaden the signal it is emanating. Dr. Foster said the idea came to him in a vision. Our hope is to use the signal to keep the unchecked infection from spreading to the landing area. There is little time remaining! You must send help as quickly as possible! Our lives are in your hands.
Note that by this time, General Caiden is probably sitting back, eating a sandwich, and declaring the Aegis system a no-fly zone for the next thousand years.

"Abernathy, G." posted:

Recombination Study
Personal Log: Dr. G. Abernathy, automated transcript
(Restricted access - Maximum encryption)

Day three of quarantine for the former Drs. Clifton and Hogan. The infection is spreading quickly through Dr. Clifton. Dr. Hogan appears unaffected at this time.

The chest of the corpse has started to expand, like it's taking a deep breath. Something appears to be happening under the surface of the skin. The body is convulsing - a yellowish briny liquid bursts from the mouth accompanied by choking noises. There's a crunching noise as the throat bulges and the jaw collapses. The head is splitting apart... reforming now into what appear to be a proboscis and feelers. The chest splits along the center now as the flesh stretches and expands outwards; the organs, bone and muscle bend inwards. The internal organs contort and reorganize themselves into an odd structure central to which is a massive bladder. The bladder is filling with a liquid, some of which can be seen spilling from the proboscis. I can only assume the two are connected.

The legs are quivering as the flesh peels away and meshes with the flesh from the chest region. There is a sudden snap halfway through the process as one leg bends backwards. More quivering now and the other leg has snapped at the knee. The changes appear to be slowing now... it starts to sit up, the body is convulsing, the legs flopping. It is trying to take its first step, uneasy as first... but now it is adapting quickly. A half-dozen steps and it seems to be perfectly at home with the new, contorted form.

The spattering on the glass is making observation difficult. It appears that Dr. Hogan's legs are elongating, somehow flaying themselves and now twisting with a mixture of his own internal organs into a single appendage, like some sort of tail. His face is contorted, his jaw clenching and unclenching... several jaw-like appendages are emerging from his every widening mouth. His mouth no longer appears able to accommodate the change... his head is splitting, seams bursting...

And almost instantly, he is perched on his hands, shifting his weight from one palm to the other. He's pacing, circling the room and... he appears to be watching me! He sees me! No, he's fixated on the ceiling now... Oh god no, he's leaping at the vent! With his powerful tail-like appendage, he's striking at the reinforced covering, trying to get it open! I must warn the others! Recording end!
Doc Abernathy channels the spirit of every H.P. Lovecraft character ever

Unitologist and CEC Logs

"The False Messiah" posted:

Unitology Exposed (Excerpts from THE FALSE MESSIAH, a book banned on Earth and most colonies)


When Michael Altman went public with his research on the Black Marker, the world was teetering on the brink of self-destruction. Many people, myself included, felt civilization was at an end. We couldn't change the world by ourselves and most of us didn't want to. What Altman offered us, this chance at a rebirth for humanity, was exactly what our hungry, empty souls were looking for.

Practically overnight, our hope for humanity was renewed. Millions flocked to his conferences to hear him profess to know the way to a new beginning. We stared in awe at the evidence of the alien artifact that would change everything. And we did whatever he told us to.

We rallied against the government. We joined together in congregations to share his word. And we prepared ourselves for the future he said was coming. Where were you when Michael Altman was assassinated by our government? It's the question of our generation, I suppose. It's certainly the day when everything changed for me... and the world.

The martyring of the scientist-turned-savior Michael Altman begat fanatical zealots and I was one of them. We birthed and maintained the tenements of a new religion, known now as the Church of Unitology. I was only a follower but I was suddenly part of the biggest social movement in history. The riots that followed and the crippling of our government made us realize we finally had the power to change things.

[A section is skipped.]

No one knows what is contained in the Black Marker. Some claim it contains a genetic string that grants immortality through gene therapy. Others say it contains the DNA of an alien life form. Even Altman confessed to not knowing exactly what it is for.

The Marker has been used to form the basic doctrines of the church. As claimed in the popular book, "Death is Only the Beginning," humans will learn that by death of their worldly spirit, they will be reborn in unity as a stronger, unending community. "Unity is forever."

[A section is skipped.]

Death is an important event in the journey of a Unitologist and seen as a necessary step to being reborn. The body is considered holy and it may not be cremated or be allowed to decay in the ground. The bodies are given to the church for safekeeping. Where they are taken is unknown, but I have seen massive Unitology compounds on all of the major settlements I have visited. Curious, I asked around. No one would tell me what was housed inside, but I uncovered evidence of massive shipments of preservative chemicals being sent to the compounds on a regular basis.

It was around this time that my superior Paragon Fontenay, brought me in for my first "soul cleansing".

[A section is skipped.]

Despite the headaches and the nausea that continued to plague me, I managed to sneak into the shipyard. I had almost regained full function of my legs and was able to make it into what appeared to be the nerve center of the operation.

What I discovered were ships, massive ships and lots of them. Stasis storage tubes lined each of the hundreds of exposed cargo bays. I couldn't see any of the bodies, but I knew what the tubes were for. What I couldn't figure out was why the church needed to transport so many suspended bodies in what looked like deep-space vessels.

Before I could investigate further, I was recaptured and the real "soul cleansings" began.

"Amazing Universe" posted:

The USG Ishimura (From a CEC-sponsored article in the publication, Amazing Universe)

As many of our older readers may recall, resource management on Earth and on the colonies was not always as streamlined as it is today. There was a time when needs could barely be met by the now-extinct resources of Earth and the dwindling supplies of the colonies. Looking to the stars for additional resources is nothing new, but at the time only smaller ships were Shockpoint-able and they were insufficient at keeping up with demand.

Enter the Ishimura.

The USG Ishimura, named after astrophysicist Hideki Ishimura (inventor of the Shockpoint drive), was the first of the massive Planet Cracker ships. Built 62 years ago, she has a long and storied career. The Ishimura was the first vessel of her size to utilize the Shockpoint drive for large-scale, commercial, deep space expeditions.

At the time of her inception, the Ishimura was hailed as the savior of the Earth colonies. She was created to mine and melt down entire small planets and moons. She was also the first ship capable of the "scan and catch" technique for harvesting mineral-rich asteroids. Using huge gravity tethers, the Ishimura can lock onto asteroids and pull them inside the ship's massive collection bays for smelting.

At 62 years old, the Ishimura is still in remarkable shape. Much of the equipment has been upgraded over the years. Many spaces have been retrofitted to take advantage of modern advances in technology. Despite the long years of service, she is still the pride of the fleet and remains the largest Planet Cracker in the fleet. Whenever an important deep space mining project comes up and the Ishimura is available, she's the first ship to be called.

It's ships like the Ishimura - and the dedication of the men and women who crew her - that have helped make Concordance Extraction Company the trusted, dependable workhorse that it is today.
...this seems eerily familiar.

"Planetary Mining" posted:


Planet mining is, quite literally, the dismantling of planets and moons on a macro-scale. Entire worlds are fractured to reveal the rich seams of valuable minerals contained inside. Despite environmentalist concerns, the operation is perfectly safe and is the only way to extract the necessary resources on the large scale required to supply Earth and the colonies.

You may have read reports that claim the destruction of a planet can destroy an entire solar system due to the disruption in the gravitation forces that hold each celestial object in orbit. Some of the wilder reports claim this causes the whole system to spin out of control or causes planets to smash into each other. Concerned investors are directed to read the article "The CEC Pledge to the Health of Our Universe" for a detailed breakdown of the truths about Planet Cracking. The short answer is: Planet Cracking is perfectly safe and provides an essential service to Earth and the colonies. With all Planet Cracks, the planets are carefully chosen for their mineral content, net worth, and the safety with which they can be dismantled.

Planet Cracking is a lengthy process spanning from three to five years. Generally, the first year is spent prospecting and setting up the colony. The second year and a half involves tectonic excavation and related planet-side activities.

The Planet Cracker class ship arrives between the 2.5 and 3 year mark, depending on the progress of the excavation. Once the ship is in orbit, preparation for tectonic chunk extraction begins. This takes approximately one week.

The removal of an excavated chunk from the planet into a stabilized geosynchronous orbit usually takes about 1 day (24 standard hours). During this process, billions of tons of debris break off from the underside of the chunk, creating an instant asteroid ring around the planet. While the floating debris is extremely dangerous, the Planet Cracker ships have an excellent Asteroid Defense System (ADS) to keep the ship and crew safe from harm.

Depending on the size of the planet, this process is repeated until the entire planet has been broken up and processed.


The CEC is the largest solar mining and extraction company in the Earth colonies. It is also the fifth largest company in terms of market capital. It has become a powerhouse of industrial might and an influential political force. With a generous budget allocated to election spending, CEC has always been able to maintain and improve its market position.

The CEC owns over 400 deep space vehicles including five Planet Crackers, with the famous USG Ishimura as its flagship. The CEC was the first to develop deep space mining, asteroid catchers and was the first to implement shockpoint drives for commercial use. We are the largest supplier of precious metals.

Out of over three dozen Planet Cracks, only one operation has met with less than optimal results. Many may remember the Wanat Disaster 11 years ago wherein a Planet Cracker, three supply ships and a colony were lost due to a gravity tether failure. Since that time, CEC has worked closely with the manufacturers and held crew training lectures to ensure a disaster of this magnitude never happens again.

We take your financial well-being and the well-being of our employees seriously. When you invest in CEC, you are investing in the future of mankind.

Burning Questions
The Marker
Some people seem confused as to what exactly the Marker is, and what it can do. I'll whittle it down to the important points. Some of this verges on speculation, but fuck it, you've listened to me so far.

The original Marker was created by an alien race and placed on Earth. Written on its surface was the genetic code for a bacterium that could infect and transform dead tissue. Inside, there was broadcast gear and some kind of AI core.

For some reason, a lot of people seem to think that the Marker and the Necromorphs work together. This is not true. The Marker exists only to suppress the Necros and warn others of the dangers.

When activated, the Marker transmitted several signals. The first interfered with the bacterium's growth, creating a suppression zone. However, without amplification, it faded out quickly.

The second affected human minds, sending a message of warning through the "ghosts" of the dead. If the Marker was actively suppressing the Necros, the visions begged the affected to leave the Marker alone. If it had been removed, it pleaded for them to return it to its resting place, so it could continue its duties.

The insanity is almost certainly an unintended a side effect - after all, if you wanted to get back onto the planet, you wouldn't intentionally drive your host batshit bonkers. The Marker probably wasn't meant to interface with a human brain. This explains Michael Altman's confusion - he was getting scattered images of Necromorphs infecting and raising people from the dead, but didn't understand their purpose.

As suggested earlier, it would make sense that the Marker manipulates your perception of time, intentionally or otherwise. It would go a long way towards explaining some of the continuity errors though even so, they're still fucked

The Marker does not reanimate the dead. It cannot manipulate time/space. It can disrupt electronics, particularly communications equipment, but probably not intentionally. It can contact human beings and manipulate their perceptions - and, in doing so, cause insanity - and it can suppress the Necromorphs.

One thing that bothers me is the fact that the Necro DNA sequence is written on the surface at all. That seems counterproductive. The best I can come up with is that it's a warning sign - "See this? Yeah, don't make this. That would be bad."

The Hive Mind
The Hive Mind's telepathy only affects Necromorphs. It can't influence humans. It's fucking terrified of the Marker.

...yep, that's all I have to say there.

Nicole is dead. Stone cold dead. Let's not argue that.

Before the asteroid strike, all of her appearances were Isaac's hallucinations. The televised pleas for help were illusions. She was never on the Mining Deck, and the door was never locked. The items "picked up from Necromorphs" were just lying around. She didn't call the shuttle back into the bay. All along, it was just Isaac, being influenced by the Marker.

The final scene, however, is a bit disconcerting. When the asteroid hit Aegis, the resulting explosion would have atomized the Marker, the colony, and pretty much anything on that side of the planet. If Isaac saw anything that wasn't there, it wasn't because of the Marker. But considering that he just spent the last day or so in the mouth of Hell, a little bit of PTSD is to be expected.

If Nicole had been reanimated, however, that suggests that the Hive Mind wasn't necessary for the survival of the Necromorphs. Meaning that any remaining Necros didn't just collapse like puppets with their strings cut, and that if there are any surviving aliens on Aegis VII, they could still be a problem.

Personally, I lean towards the hallucination theory. Since Nicole died on the medical deck, she probably couldn't have made it onto the shuttlecraft, much less in a vaguely humanoid state. If anything, she would get turned into a Slasher. Plus, it makes sense when you consider...

Isaac's Fate
The game's executive producer, Glen Schofield, has made it very clear that Isaac survives the end of Dead Space. If Nicole was a hallucination, this would be no trouble at all. If she was actually there, then Isaac's mighty feet surely leapt into action. Either way, he's alive, and he's probably going to be back for the sequel. In what capacity, I don't know. Hopefully he'll be the protagonist - he might be a bit one-dimensional, but I've grown fond of the quiet little bastard.

The Fate of the Ishimura and Aegis VII
They're both toast. As I said, that asteroid could have wiped out an entire continent, and it dragged the Ishimura along with it. All that's left is dust.

The Future of Dead Space
Prequels are always a possibility. That's the basis of Extraction, after all. But unless I miss my guess, the story on Aegis is pretty much done. In terms of further infection, though...

Think back. Remember the log on the Valor? "We suspect that the Ishimura has located Marker 3A." We've only heard of two. There's still at least one more.

Behind the Scenes of Dead Space
Before starting the LP, I came across some little bits of trivia that didn't quite fit in anywhere else. Now seems as good a time as any...
* While EA hasn't had much of a history developing horror games, Glen Schofield has a bit of experience in the field. He worked on Disney World Racing, Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game, Bartman Meets Radioactive Man, a Barbie title... and the most horrifying game of all.
* In hopes of creating a genuinely grotesque, horrifying enemy, Redwood's artistic staff referenced photographs of car crash victims. Eew.
* Most of the game's architecture and tech design was inspired by Gothic and Romanesque architecture, including Isaac's suit.
* As it turns out, the original design for Isaac's suit was... different...
* The development team had a huge debate about whether Isaac should be able to speak, lasting until the very end of the game's production. And, according to the internet... they kinda made the wrong decision. Smooth.

Turns out that some of the continuity issues were actually addressed by Dead Space's art director, Ian Milham!

"" posted:

Q: So were you involved with the Dead Space comic or movie as well?
A: That stuff turned out awesome! ... So, Ben Templesmith with the comic book, right? We talked to him about getting involved- this was no EA running the show, this was Image Comics and we helped them with that.

Q: But you must've laid down the framework for him?
A: Yeah, we met up a few times and showed him our monster designs and talked with him about the feelings behind things. ...How it's supposed to feel and live and what the world's rules were, but beyond that we were like "Hey man, do your thing!" Every once in a while he would check in and deliver stuff and if there was some inconsistency in a weapon or something that doesn't make sense in our world we'd point it out, or he would ask what something looked like and we'd give him reference- but for the most part we wanted him to just do his thing.

"" posted:

Q: And the same thing for the film?
A: Same thing for the animated movie, they were definitely involved. Because they were a little bit closer stylistically we did work with them a little more closely. They came up, they got a full look at the whole game, they even used some of our environments as backgrounds in an adapted way. well, at least the comic was good.

Speaking of...

The Comic
In an amazingly savvy marketing move, EA actually released the all the issues of the Dead Space comic for free on YouTube. Fully voiced and partially animated, clocking in at about ten minutes each, you can now examine an entire comic without that pesky "reading" business! I haven't actually watched it all through myself, but from what I've seen, it's decent.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six

Behind the Scenes of the LP
I got the idea for the "continuity error" gimmick after watching the movie and hearing the "planetfall estimated in three hours" line. That confused me quite a bit. I started putting together a rough timeline, only to find that the entire thing was completely fucked. It kinda snowballed from there.

If people are at all interested in my workflow, I have prepared a handy diagram.

The same goes for the Schadenfreude Run. Though it's rather less... technical.