I ended the first part by mentioning how a masterful blend science fiction and horror themes can make for an intriguing and beautiful story. Today I am going to talk about a story where these conventions have been put together perfectly.
Dead Space- FORMAT: Video Game
Dead Space tells us the story of Isaac Clarke as he battles the grotesque Necromorphs on the spaceship Ishimura. This one also gets points for adding Survival Horror in to the mix.
At its root Dead Space is simply about a man in claustrophobic and poorly lit rooms killing monsters. As easy as it can be to take video games at face value, the story in this one is so well written it forces you to pay attention.
Early on there’s an almost throw away line about Isaac having a girlfriend on board the Ishimura. As things increasingly start to go awry around him, Isaac makes the decision to search for her as well as attempt to complete his mission of getting off of the ship.
This is where one of my favorite Horror conventions kicks in- The Battle of Sanity.
There are numerous hints throughout that Nicole (his girlfriend) is not alive and that he is dealing with either a demonic presence or a hallucination brought on by the psychological trauma of everything that’s unfolding. The battle raging inside of Isaac’s mind as to whether or not anything happening around him is real and his guilt over potentially not saving Nicole is both paced and played out perfectly.
Despite the fact that Isaac is for the most part a silent protagonist, the events unfolding around him make him a truly sympathetic character.
Here’s another thing that makes Dead Space so riveting to me, Isaac Clarke is a normal person.
He uses simple Sci-Fi weapons and isn’t a battle hardened killer. The fact that he is such a simple person adds depth to his character and amps up the fear when he is in a dangerous situation. You truly fear for Isaac, even against the other human threats you meet because he seems so out of place amidst this destruction.
If you haven’t played Dead Space, I recommend you do so. The controls may seem slightly clunky but I promise you the story and atmosphere more than make up for it. Do yourself a favor and skip the second and third games in the series though.
This concludes Part 2. Part 3 will go up on Friday or Saturday.