Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dead Space 2 and the Church of Unitology

I love science fiction and I love horror movies - so it is only natural that I love the survival-horror 3rd person shooter Dead Space. I played the first game on PS3 and I played MOST of the rail shooter Dead Space Extraction on the Wii (still have to go back and finish that one). I even rented the movie Dead Space Downfall and downloaded and watched all the animated comics from PSN. So it's no surprise that I am quite enjoying playing the new sequel creatively named Dead Space 2 (damn not even a colon with a subtitle?).  I've put maybe 5 hours into the game so far and it has already scared me into and back out of arrhythmia on several occassions.

The perspective and gameplay are reminscient of Resident Evil IV, so if you've played that classic you might consider this Resident Evil IV in space.  You play as engineer Isaac Clarke who, 3 years after the events of Dead Space 1, wakes up on the Sprawl, a formerly densely-populated space station built on Saturn's moon Titan. I say FORMERLY densely populated because it is now overrun with necromorphs who are quickly and efficiently killing the remaining good people of the Sprawl and converting their corpses into more necromorphs who must be dismembered to be killed (the trusty ol' headshot just pisses them off). So wake up and try not to get killed before you can figure out exactly what the hell is going on and how to escape!

Just like the first one, the atmosphere of the game is dark and quite scary, with a big part of the spookiness coming from Visceral Games' masterful handling of the sound effects and music - it really accents the environment perfectly, especially when piped through a surround sound system with all the lights off (my favorite way to play scary games). But none of that is why I posted about a game you can read about in a million places right now - I just felt compelled to chat a bit about what I found to be the creepiest part of this game - the Church of Unitology.

In the first Dead Space you get brief inferential glimpses into the Church of Unitology through the text, video, and audio logs of its members that you stumble upon aboard the mining ship Ishimura. And that was creepy enough. But in Dead Space 2 you actually wander through their church on Titan exploring their indoctrination center, seeing their recruitment posters, listening to their audio logs, viewing their museum exhibits, gaping up at giant statues of their revered founder Michael Altman, and generally just witnessing numerous first-hand examples of the creepiness of this religion which is like an ultra-dark/hellish version of Scientology (apologies to any Unitologist readers).

One of the many recruitment posters you'll see

The Unitologists worhip the Marker, a double-helical obelisk with unusual powers to infect people's minds and DNA that serves as the source of this whole nightmare. You can see the Marker inside the egg being held up in the Unitology poster above. Symbolic of the Marker allowing these people to be reborn as one - or something to that effect.

The Marker

I have always found religious zealots to be rather creepy to begin with, but the Unitologists really take it to the next level by embracing the idea of being horribly killed by necromorphs to experience the bliss of the unique brand of afterlife they offer - becoming animated pieces of a mauled and mutated corpse whose sole purpose is to convert other corpses to the same. But of course that credo isn't going to attract too many new members so the controlling arm of the church spins it and talks about the ideals of unity and "convergeance" when in actuality their ultimate religious goal is to convert all humanity into the undead necromorphs whom they consider to be the next holy evolutionary step for humanity.

One thing I will give the church credit for - beautiful architecture. They've proudly incorporated the Marker into their columns and towers, but also more subtly into other stylistic touches as well. Subconsiously I began looking for the holy Marker everywhere as I wandered around.  And now I'm seeing the Marker all around me!  Sunday morning my wife made me breakfast and when I looked at the plate this is what I saw.
The Bacon Marker

She doesn't know anything about the game at all but that piece of bacon fried up like that and for some reason she decided to stand it upright on the eggs. Eggs... THE MARKER IS IN THE EGG. I can feel the old me slipping away as I am bathed in the warm unifying glow of the Marker. But why the look of concern oh non-believer?  Just open yourself up to the Marker and you too will see.

If you would like to learn more about our wonderful religion and the eye-opening teachings of our founder Michael Altman, please find a comprehensive collection of information about Unitology HERE. Come and join us.  We're waiting for you.

Altman be praised!

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xarn said...

Umm bro... Perhaps some counseling would help you a bit. You know, um, spread the word and all that. ;)

MadPlanet said...

Ah - welcome brother Xarn! It has been far too long since you have joined us here at the Church of Gaming :P.

Yes, by the time I am done with this game counseling may indeed be in order.

Fallguy40 said...

You need to play a happy game immediately. Something with Yoshi or Kirby in it. Perhaps Sackboy.

MadPlanet said...

I hate both Yoshi and Kirby. But we DO have a game where the character is like Sackboy except he is made out of a body bag that can withstand the rigors of space. Oh, a few games of Robotron or NBA Jam to cleanse the pallet and I'll be right as rain.

MadPlanet said...

...actually HATE is too strong a word. Especially since I'm not really all that familiar with them. That's just my usual knee-jerk reaction to Nintendo slipping out again. OK it's settled, I'm going to play a Kirby game next. But first I have to finish DS2.

MadPlanet said...

...upon reflection I DO still hate Yoshi. I can hang with the Kirb.