I completed Dead Space last night and was awarded with an aptly horrifying ending… but was what it all about?
I’ve come up with a few ideas and theories – with evidence – to make your jaw drop.
Dead Space is an awesome survival horror game, set on a deep-space mining vessel overrun with evil creatures called necromorphs. You control Isaac, a member of the crew sent to investigate.
The ending is ridiculously jumpy and caught me completely off-guard, much like most of the game. But what does it mean?
After hacking and shooting his way through hundreds of nasty necromorphs, Isaac finally returns “the marker” to the surface and manages to kill the game’s last boss, the hive mind.
Before the planet explodes, Isaac quickly escapes in a shuttle. He covers his eyes as the planet explodes, and the screen goes white.
Moments before this, the game’s traitor informed us that messages from Nicole, Isaac’s girlfriend, were in fact nothing more than hallucinations, caused by “the marker”.
The screen fades in and we see Isaac’s head in the reflection of the shuttle’s window. He takes off his mask and breathes a sigh of relief. It’s over.
He looks gaunt, and depressed. He’s been through hell – betrayed and broken. As silence in the cabin grows, a message pops up on the screen.
It’s Nicole – one of her old messages starts playing again, but this time Isaac switches it off. He knows it’s probably his mind playing tricks.
It’s silent now. Suddenly, Isaac thinks he hears something… and… well, I won’t give it away. You can see what happens for yourself:
I’ve come up with a few theories as to what the hell this ending means.
First theory: Nicole is dead
This was nothing more than another hallucination from Isaac. He’s gone mad, and in his mind, has somehow turned Nicole into one of them. The real Nicole is still dead.
Stop the video at around 1:32. You’ll see her spinal health bar is full. Necromorphs certainly don’t have spinal health bars…
Finally take the first letter from each mission to reveal a secret message…
1. New arrivals
2. Intensive care
3. Course correction
4. Obliteration imminent
5. Lethal devotion
6. Environmental hazard
7. Into the void
8. Search and rescue
9. Dead on arrival
10. End of days
11. Alternate solutions
12. Dead space
This spells out NICOLE IS DEAD. Clever huh? Remember this message is from the game developers, which makes it more feasible than other ideas.
Second theory: Isaac is dead
Look carefully at the video again – this time around the 30-second mark. When the planet explodes, Isaac shields himself and everything goes white.
Isaac could have actually been killed in the explosion. What follows could be the last thoughts from his mind as he dies, OR it’s likely the scene is somewhere else entirely.
Isaac could have died and is now in hell, heaven, purgatory – or any other afterlife there may be.
Why is Nicole like that then? Perhaps she’s been punished for killing herself and will roam for eternity in that state. Maybe it was something to do with that drug she injected herself with.
Third theory: The hive mind is NOT dead
This one’s a loose theory but still viable. Perhaps a piece of the hive mind somehow attached itself to Isaac when he left the marker behind and made him believe Nicole is evil.
Maybe the hive mind sent a shape-shifting creature after Isaac, or somehow resurrected Nicole and turned her into a deadly being.
If Isaac is just hallucinating then perhaps the hive mind isn’t dead. And if it is, then maybe the real marker is now controlling Isaac (remember the marker Isaac returned at the end is in fact “man-made”, this means the true alien marker is still out there).
Fourth theory: There are no theories
If games have taught me anything over the years, it’s not to speculate about endings.
Dead Space is a fantastic game, with a brilliant ending – one that the developers probably want you to make up your own mind over.
Now let’s wait for Dead Space 2 and see where the story picks up…
What do you think the ending to Dead Space means?
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.