March 30, 2023

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Dissecting Dead Space 2’s most memorable level

While videogame sequels have never quite gained the erratic reputation of their respective cinematic experiences, there’s always a fear that a follow up won’t quite hit the heights of its predecessor. Not so Electronic Arts’ and Visceral’s Dead Space 2, ten years old this year and rightly regarded as one of the finest sequels of its generation.

Having survived the many trials and dangers of the first game, engineer Isaac Clarke awakens three years later on the Sprawl, a huge space station in orbit around the Saturn moon of Titan. Now in possession of a voice, Clarke is soon knee-deep in necromorphs as another outbreak of the undead creatures threatens to engulf the station. Throughout the first few hectic and horrific levels of Dead Space 2, the player guides Clarke across urban areas and the headquarters of the shady Unitology religion.

Meanwhile, lurking in the background and often visible to an alert gamer is the formidable planet cracker spaceship of the first game, its spiky angular shape haunting Isaac as he seeks to escape the necromorphs once more. “Very early in the game you can see the Ishimura parked up out there,” says Ian Milham, Visceral’s art director on Dead Space 2 and the driving force behind the game’s most famous level, chapter ten. “And y’know, we’re not hanging a lantern on it so it’s so literal. But we wanted to plant that seed, like, ‘oh man, are they gonna make me go back there? That’s going to be terrible.’ That was the idea, to spend the first part of the game hyping it up.”

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