Friday, April 10, 2015

Dead Space: Chronicle of the Red Marker. Chapter 1

No, there isn't some new Dead Space game/add-on/DLC called "Chronicle of the Red Marker," I just liked that title for what I'm going to be covering, which are materials in the Dead Space universe that deal with the finding of the Red Marker on Aegis VII and the results thereof; not including the first Dead Space game.  These all include the Dead Space (Comics),  the Dead Space: Downfall and Aftermath animated movies and the Dead Space: Extraction and Ignition games that came out on systems that I do not have access to.

As I have stated before, I'm a sucker for games in a series, specifically games that take place in the same universe that belong to a series and the universe in the Dead Space games is no exception.  After playing the first game, I fell in love with what was being shown to me as well as what could just be glimpsed upon far in the horizon.  Upon discovering that the first game takes place in the middle of the current chronology, I wanted to start in the beginning, ignoring the fact that Dead Space: Martyr, the novel by B.K. Evenson which begins with the finding of the Black Marker on earth and the origins of Unitology was published in 2010, two years after the first game that started it all came out.  The chronology for Dead Space is all over the place.  Starting in 2214 (Martyr published in 2010), another Marker "found/created" in 2295 (Catalyst published in 2012) and compiling in 2508 when the games start (released in 2008) as well as the comic (published 2008) and the animated movies (released 2005 & 2011).

These two articles look to review/analyze/mumble about the stories that revolve around the Red Marker that is omnipresent between Dead Space and Dead Space 2.  In order to not make this article as cumbersome as it first was, I have broken it up into two separate posts with this first post covering Dead Space (Comic) through the first animated film, Dead Space: Downfall.

Dead Space (Comic) takes place in the days leading up to the "outbreak" in the mining colony of Aegis VII.  The story was written by Antony Johnson and the artwork was done by Ben Templesmith.  I bring this up because while I did not find any fault with the story, it was the artwork that I ultimately found confusing.  

The story however was very well told.  Because this story is told in print, it allows the tension to build without jumping right into a necromorph outbreak.  I also enjoyed that the "corruption" that you see a lot of in Dead Space starts out as an anomalous annoyance and only once its possible connection with The Marker is made is it too late for anyone to do anything about it.

In the introduction, there are bios of the main characters along with a brief histories and thumbnail of what the character looks like.  Now I will be the first to admit that I tend to forget characters' names in a story that is chalk full of main characters (it took me a couple of hundred pages and reading the family trees to keep characters separate while reading A Game of Thrones).  There are even two sets of characters who appear similar to their respective doppelganger.  Cortez and Natalia: both are women of about the same age with shoulder length dark hair.  Sciarello and Carthusia are both slightly overweight men with short hair and glasses.  Maybe I am just a bad person, but I had a hard time keeping these people apart, especially with the artwork not being as consistent between chapters.

It basically boils down to the art style.  At times it seemed like the artists had a general image of what the characters were supposed to look like, but then given free reign as to how they wanted/could modify said characters.  I know this is something that can be pretty common in the comics industry, but I found it a bit distracting, especially when trying to keep characters straight.

Dead Space: Extraction is a Wii and ported PS3 game that I am unable to play due to my lack of a video game console post 2001.  Rather than try and find an emulated copy of the game, one designed for motion controls (although using the mouse would work just as well), I looked to youtube to find a single longplay video or one broken up into watchable segments.  Thankfully I was able to find a series of six videos of the PS3 port from World of Longplays and major kudos to them for having no talking or commentary of any kind.

I enjoyed that Dead Space Extraction took place at around the same time as both the comic and Downfall (below), but that it took the story from a different point of view with different characters.  The thing that I loved about what this game did, was that your first character is not the main character, but it plays it off like he's going to be another Isaac Clarke from the first game.  Throughout the tutorial level, you witness hallucinations from a point of view mode.  At the end of the chapter, your character is killed by C-Sec officers (police) and as your hallucination fades/breaks, you see that the necromorphs you were killing where in fact C-Sec officers.  You immediately wonder how many of the creatures you killed throughout that first level were actually civilians and if there were in fact any necromorphs at all.

The game takes you through the Ishimura up the the point when the USG Kellion (the ship Isaac Clarke is on) arrives, although contact is not made, possibly due to debris and what not.  The only problem I had with the story (as well as the parallel story in Dead Space: Downfall) is that the characters cannot be too successful in making their way through the USG Ishimura since the first game takes place in the same space, so there have to be some monsters left over and all of the items cannot have been picked clean.  But continuity aside, it was a fun game to sit back and watch someone else play for just under six hours (multiple sittings mind you)

Dead Space: Downfall takes place shortly after the events in the first Dead Space (Comic).  The animation style I think is what made it a little odd for me. If you've seen EA's animated film Dante's Inferno, the tie-in to their not-too-successful video game, then you'll know what I'm referring to.  If you haven't seen it, picture what you think of when it comes to traditional Japanese animation.  Now take that image and stretch it out a bit so all the characters look a bit lanky. Somewhat similar to Ninja Scroll, but less refined somehow.

Storywise, I enjoyed what I was presented with.  The story primarily takes place on the U.S.G. Ishimura, although the movie begins with the discovery of the Red Marker on Aegis VII (you know the place) with the events leading up to Issac and company arriving at the Ishimura right before Dead Space starts up.  There was no overlap between Downfall and Extraction which is somewhat expected since Downfall was released a year before Extraction, but I really would have liked it if there had been some mention of people, just to keep the feeling that the Ishimura was a single united ship.

This is where I shall leave you for the weekend.  Chapter 2 (on Monday 4/13) will cover three  of the four storylines that bridge the gap between Dead Space 1 and 2.

Soon I'll Be Knocking At Your Door

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