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Dead Space’s secret ‘alternative ending’ is a better setup for Dead Space 2

The remake offers a different take on Isaac’s fate

A screenshot of Isaac Clarke in his full RIG suit from the Dead Space remake Image: Motive Studio/Electronic Arts
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Motive Studio’s remake of sci-fi survival horror classic Dead Space is excellent, filling in the gaps and addressing shortcomings of the original 2008 game. It also adds to the original Dead Space, including a secret “alternative ending” that provides stronger connective tissue to the original game’s sequel, 2011’s Dead Space 2.

Dead Space players who have peeked at the achievements and trophies for the remake know that there’s a secret ending, but it requires a good amount of work to get there. For those who are curious — or simply don’t want to play, like, 30 hours of the Dead Space remake — here’s what’s different in the alternative ending.

[Ed. note: Spoilers for Dead Space follow, naturally.]

At the end of the game, hero engineer Isaac Clarke is confronted with a harrowing reality. The woman that he loves, the person that brought him to the USG Ishimura in the first place, Dr. Nicole Brennan, was already dead by the time he arrived. The woman he’s been talking to throughout the game isn’t Nicole, but someone else entirely; Isaac has been hallucinating, a condition brought on by The Marker, the alien technology at the heart of the Necromorph infection and the mass hysteria that consumed the Ishimura crew.

In the original ending, Isaac appears to accept Nicole’s death, and escapes the colony Aegis VII in a shuttlecraft. He rewatches Nicole’s final video message to him, appearing to come to grips with his loss. He then hears the ghostly whispers of Nicole once more, and a bloody specter of the undead Nicole lunges at Isaac from the co-pilot seat. The game cuts to a black screen. It’s just one more jump scare in the long train of Dead Space’s jump scares.

In the alternative ending, things play out mostly the same. Isaac realizes he’s been hallucinating Nicole’s face and voice, and he escapes Aegis VII. But Isaac is behaving very differently on the shuttlecraft. He looks loopy and detached — almost happy. Nicole appears behind him, seemingly in good health, and says, “The Ishimura really was a great ship.”

“Yeah, we were lucky to see her in her prime,” Isaac replies.

“Are we going home, Isaac? There’s so much work to do,” Nicole says. “Soon, I promise,” Isaac responds. “Gotta build a little something first.”

“For me?” Nicole says. “What is it?”

“It’s a surprise, sweetie,” Isaac says, grinning. “But I think you’re gonna like it.”

The camera then pans behind them and we see Isaac’s helmet laying on the floor. The deck of the escape shuttle is revealed to be slathered in Marker symbols — you know, the bloody graffiti scrawled all over the Ishimura — implying that the Marker has affected Isaac more deeply than just haunting him with his dead ex-girlfriend.

The Dead Space remake’s alternative ending more strongly ties the ending of the first game to the events of Dead Space 2. In the sequel, Isaac wakes up in a hospital in a settlement called the Sprawl with no memory of the past three years. Dead Space 2 reveals that a new Necromorph infestation plaguing the Sprawl was caused by Isaac himself — in the intervening years, Isaac built a new marker, and the church of Unitology wants him to build more.

Unlocking the secret alternative ending in the Dead Space remake reinforces that narrative, because it requires finding 12 Marker fragments scattered throughout the game in New Game Plus mode. That mode only unlocks after completing Dead Space once, meaning players are in for a long journey to see the remake’s secret ending for themselves.

EA hasn’t said anything yet about a remake of Dead Space 2, but the alternative ending is a sign of hope that the sequel is next for Motive Studio.