The Red Marker, discovered on the planet Aegis VII, was a Human-made replica of the Black Marker, a genuinely extraterrestrial artifact found on Earth that kick-started the Unitoligist religion, with the only difference between the two being that certain unknown elements in the Black Marker were replaced by ones more familiar to Humans, lending the second Marker its different colouration. When the alien text etched into the surface of the Red Marker was deciphered, it was revealed to be a genetic code. This code was quickly engineered by the curious scientists, who had brought about their own doom; the code on the Marker was the DNA of the Necromorph virus, which transforms dead flesh into animated, wildly aggressive forms who seemingly have no goals outside of murdering every living thing and transforming their corpses into more Necromorphs.
Some Necromorph strains have "Super" variants, which are generally faster, stronger, and more durable. Super variants of any Necromorph are easily recognized by the distinct black or dark brown colour of their flesh, with more menacing, glowing eyes. Some Supers are also seen to "drool" a constant stream of maggots from the host's mouth. Charming.
Strains (Necromorph varieties)
Technically not a Necromorph strain, the Corruption is nonetheless somehow intrinsically tied to the viral alien species. When a Necromorph outbreak has progressed to a certain point, this meat-like organic material begins to grow on the walls and floors of the most heavily infested areas. It is unclear exactly where the Corruption comes from, nor what its purpose is, but the more advanced an outbreak, the more Corruption will be found. There is significantly less of the Corruption seen in Dead Space 2 than in Dead Space; this is most likely because it would take significantly longer to build up in the vast, wide-open areas of the Sprawl than in the cramped corridors of the USG Ishimura.
Slashers are the most common strain that you will encounter aboard the USG Ishimura and The Sprawl, and are the most basic form of the Necromorph. Slashers are extremely aggressive and will attack and kill any living being they encounter. They mainly attack in large groups, and when combined with other types of Necromorphs, they are very deadly. They have a very distinct form and are easily recognized by the blades that grow out of their hands.
The victim's body goes through a rapid deformation as the corpse transforms into a Necromorph. The arms deform and grow multiple joints, and become elongated. At the same time, the bones rapidly grow from the shoulder and burst through the palm and form a sharp and curved blade, the main weapon of the Slashers, which lends them their name. The body's torso rips apart, exposing the rib cage which also rips open to form two new arms under the torso, though these apparently serve no purpose. The spinal cord grows exceedingly large and protrudes out of the victim's back, and also forces the neck of the victim to hunch.
While most Necromorph strains come in "regular" and "Super" varieties, there are three different Slasher variants:
- The Male Slasher
- The Female Slasher
- The Super Slasher
The type of Slasher depends on which sex the Slasher's body originated from. The male Slasher focuses entirely on melee combat and charges at Isaac, blades flailing, whereas the female Slasher (known as the Spitter in Dead Space 2) is a more conservative aggressor, and instead of charging in blindly, it is capable of (but not limited to) spitting toxic acid from a distance. The Super, or Enhanced, Slasher is the ultimate variant of the Slasher. More agile, more fearsome, more deadly. Possessing far more durability, the Super Slashers also deal increased damage and are faster than normal Slashers. In addition to these advantages, the Super Slasher can also regenerate dismembered limbs over time, and can have sudden bursts of speed and attack in short flurries, as well as having the ability to spit, similar to the female Slasher.
Leapers are no-legged abominations named for their uncanny skill in jumping towards their victims. Leapers are fast and agile, and can also crawl on walls and ceilings, making them truly versatile killers as they can strike from any given direction, especially in zero-gravity environments.
The legs of the victim's body start to grow rapidly and twist into a single tail-like appendage. The face starts to become extremely distorted in appalling contortions and starts to literally split open, forming a vast and gaping jaw that spans across the whole face. The teeth extend into short tusks, and the bones in the tail grow to a sharpened edge, much like the Slasher's arm blades.
Leapers are more of an ambush type of Necromorph, as they cannot withstand the same punishment a Slasher can. For example, most Leapers will try to climb on walls or ceilings before attacking you, forcing you to look in every direction if you hear the growl of a Leaper. They are even more deadly in space, as there is no sound and you will never know if you are in the presence of a Leaper unless you see it. Combined with zero-g, this allows the Leapers to literally attack from anywhere. Leapers usually attack in one of two ways, a tail whip or a bite. If they leap at you successfully, a "death grab" or "Leaper attack" quick-time event gameplay sequence is initiated, where the player must repeatedly tap a button to throw the Leaper off of Isaac. In Dead Space: Extraction, shooting the tail off a Leaper will cause it to die instantly, while in Dead Space and Dead Space 2, it can survive such an attack, though it will be limited to biting attacks afterwards.
Just like the Slasher, there is a Super variation of the Leaper, with increased speed and strength. Like the Super Slasher, more shots are required to take down the Super Leaper. Your best bet is to cut off the Leaper's arms with a Line Gun. Aim for the arms and you'll take out both arms plus the head, guaranteeing an instant kill, though it may take a few shots.
These Necromorphs are formed from the corpses of human infants, which are too small to be turned into more traditional strains like Slashers or Leapers. Despite their small size, Lurkers are a serious threat. The Lurker's main focus of attack is by ranged projectiles. They support the other Necromorphs by firing projectiles from their tentacles, which forces Isaac to shrug it off and recover, creating an opening for the other Necromorphs to close in for the kill. Lurkers often execute a surprise attack where the Lurker jumps onto Isaac, repeatedly stabbing its spiked tentacles into his back. The player must repeatedly tap a button to throw the Lurker off and drop-kick it. Unlike most QTEs in Dead Space, which merely damage the Necromorphs, successfully throwing off a Lurker instantly results in the Lurker's redeath.
The back of the infant's body rips open and sprouts three spiked tentacles which fire needle-like projectiles. The stomach bursts open and forms many tentacle-like "suction cups" which grasp the area beneath them and can hold the Lurker in place in zero-g, as well as on ceilings and walls. This gives them an advantage as they can
attack from any direction, much like Leapers. However, the Lurker is able to shoot projectiles from it's tentacles. This makes them somewhat more menacing than Leapers as they can attack Isaac from any range as well.
The Brute Necromorph is truly a beast to behold. This disturbing manifestation derived from multiple corpses merged together into a single monstrosity. Its unstoppable power and limitless strength gives the Brute a reason to be feared. The Brute can also ram straight through steel, as seen in almost all encounters with the Brute. Although all
Necromorphs are hostile and aggressive, no other Necromorph matches the Brute's volatility. Whether it be ramming, punching or simply tearing their opponents apart (rendering them useless for Necromorph transformation), the Brute will stop at nothing to achieve the murder of every living thing. However, the Brute is not limited to these powerful melee attacks, as it can also launch organic explosives that explode on impact. One can catch these explosives and send them straight back to the Brute using the kinesis module.
Brutes will almost always bum-rush Isaac, sending him flying. The Brute is incredibly vulnerable when in stasis, as the player is usually only fighting one at a time. All that one needs is a stasis module and any weapon, and the Brute can be taken down with ease. That being said, without the stasis module or any stasis energy left, the Brute is next to impossible to defeat. Its armoured carapace protects the Brute from harm, and is also used to ram the Brute's opponent to the ground. The Brute uses these armoured shells to protect itself if in danger, or
when the player deals enough damage to the Brute. While in this mode, it is speculated that the Brute is recovering. This gives the player time to either heal, reload or keep unloading unto the creature. The forearms and head of the Brute are heavily armoured by the Brute's carapace and are difficult to dismember. Alternatively, the hind legs of the beast can be easily torn off with the Ripper, for example. The Brutes are by far the strongest form of Necromorphs aside from the unique bosses, and are classified as mini-bosses because of their toughness.
Believe it or not, even Brutes have a 'Super' variant which is encountered late in the game in Chapter 12: Dead Space. This form of the Brute is extremely resistant to attacks and is much more powerful than any other Necromorph in the game. Using the stasis to slow down the Super Brute and continually pummelling it with everything you have still seems to remain as effective just as killing a normal Brute.
The unfortunately-named "Pregnants" are large, heaving creatures that resemble more than anything disgustingly obese Slashers. More than being stereotypical 'fat zombies', however, Pregnants carry smaller Necromorphs inside of their bodies. This large abdominal sac can easily be ruptured, which releases dozens of small Necromorphs called Swarmers into the world. The Pregnants also have blades similar to the Slashers, and can use them to surprisingly great effect, as Pregnants can hit just as hard as Slashers. Sometimes, Pregnants will even survive having the sac ruptured and will continue crawling towards Isaac by their claws. The Pregnants' weight and large sac serves to hinder their movement, slowing the Pregnant down to an awkward stumbling walk, even when it is "charging" at Isaac. During later stages of the game, the Pregnants carry deadlier spawn; ranging from Lurkers to Divider limbs. Once killed, the spawn inside of the Pregnant's sac also die off, and the sac can no longer be ruptured, eliminating the need to be cautious once they're down. However, when heavily damaged, Pregnants will often disembowel themselves with their arm blades, likely destroying themselves but releasing their spawn. The best strategy to take down a Pregnant would be using a Line Gun and aiming it at the neck/shoulders level of the Pregnant. Firing a Line Gun at this level would sever both arms of the Pregnant, as well as the head resulting in an instant kill.
Exploders are essentially suicide bombers. Their left arms are horribly mutated into sacs of volatile chemicals that explode violently upon impact. Their sole method of attack is to move up to a victim and slam their arm into the ground, with the explosion blowing both the Exploder and its victim to bits. Their main weakness is that their mutation also twisted their legs into a single limb, forcing them to move at a slow, hobbling pace, using their arms as crutches. An Exploder can be taken out easily from a distance by shooting the chemical sac, blowing up the Exploder and any other nearby Necromorphs. In addition, the chemical sac arm can be severed, leaving the Exploder's only attack option being to flail ineffectively at their victims with their stumpy right arm. If the sac is severed without being destroyed, it can be picked up with the kinesis module and thrown into groups of Necromorphs, making a very effective improvised grenade.
Tall, lanky, and frightening, the Divider's body splits into multiple tiny spider-like segments when shot. These segments crawl around of their own volition and attack Isaac as a swarm. A single Divider will quickly become two hands, two feet, and a head, all bent on killing Isaac. The head segments have a quick-time event attack where they attempt to strangle Isaac with their tentacles. If the player does not successfully throw it off, it will tear off Isaac's own head and take its place, taking control of his body and transforming it into a new Divider.
The straight-forwardly named Infectors are the Necromorphs that create other Necromorphs. Infectors travel infested areas looking for corpses, and when one is found, the Infector will stab their proboscis into the corpse's brain, injecting the fast-acting Necromorph virus that transforms the corpse into a Necromorph within seconds. They are the only Necromorph type that will actively ignore Isaac in battle; they are more concerned with transforming all nearby corpses into more Necromorphs. However, if there are no nearby corpses, they will attempt to transform Isaac, leaping upon him with a quick-time event and attempting to pierce his skull with their proboscis. In the original Dead Space, all corpses reanimated by Infectors transform into Super Slashers, though in-universe, all Necromorphs that are derived from a single corpse are created from Infectors. In Dead Space 2, Infectors transform corpses into regular Slashers, and the new Super Infectors now create Super Slashers. In the opening of Dead Space 2, it is demonstrated that Infectors are capable of transforming living humans directly into Necromorphs without having to wait for them to die, and that the virus is just as fast, if not faster, when converting living humans: when Franco Delille is attacked by an Infector, he transforms into a Slasher without even falling down.
The Necromorphs collectively referred to as "the Pack" are the result of the virus mutating the corpses of prepubescent children. Too big to become Lurkers and too small to become Slashers, children become something unique. Equipped with razor-sharp talons and able to fit into ducts and crawlspaces due to their small size, the Pack act essentially like small Slashers, running up to a victim and attempting to tear them apart with their claws. However, being made of immature Humans, the Pack are much more fragile than Slashers, and individual Pack members can be dispatched with ease. They gain their name, and differentiate themselves from other strains, by their behaviour. As their name implies, the Pack always hunt in groups. If a single Pack member finds a potential target, it will flee back in the direction of the rest of its group, shrieking at the top of its lungs to get the attention of the others. The Pack will then descend on their victim en masse, hoping to make up for their individual weakness by overwhelming their unfortunate victim with sheer numbers.
One of the least mutated Necromorphs, a child's corpse will lose all hair when infected, followed by the skin on the lower face peeling away to reveal a protruding jaw full of fangs. The eyes of Pack members appear to be sealed shut, though they do not behave like they are blind. Like other Necromorph strains, genitals and other gender characteristics are absorbed into the body, the mass being used for other purposes; it is impossible to visually tell whether a given pack was a boy or a girl in life. Most notably, the fingers on the hands twist together to form three razor-sharp talons which are almost as effective as Slasher blades at eviscerating foes. Curiously, the skin of Pack members is far paler than that of other Necromorph strains.
The singularly vile Puker is unique among Necromorphs in that it has no extra extremities to speak of. Although the tips of its fingers are sharpened, it almost never uses these as a weapon, preferring instead to rely upon the mutation that gives it its name. Upon infection, all internal organs combine together to form an enormous chemical sac that produces an endless amount of a highly corrosive acid. The Puker is capable of regurgitating this acid upon its victims at distances of several metres, making it an extremely dangerous foe. Pukers have a limited lifespan due to their own construction; the acid within them burns through their bodies, eventually destroying them. The heads of active Pukers can be seen to have been ravaged by the acid already; Pukers have no eyes, and nothing else on the face except an enormous corroded maw. The heads aren't even necessary for their attack; decapitated Pukers can and will spew their acid directly through the exposed esophagus in the stump of their necks.
Wheezers are an oddity among Necromorphs. They are completely immobile, possess no natural weaponry whatsoever, and it isn't even clear whether or not they can even tell when they are in the presence of an uninfected Human or taking damage from an attack. The only mutations visible on Wheezers are that their upper and lower legs are fused together, preventing them from moving from the spot they are found, and their lungs have expanded to almost ten times the size of natural human lungs, bursting out the back of the host, where they visibly expand and contract like bellows. It seems Wheezers are used as a tool, rather than a weapon. Like all undead Necromorphs, the Wheezers do not need to breathe in; instead, they use their immense lungs to breathe out a mixture of atmospheric poisons, polluting the air in a given area. It is believed that what they are doing is essentially "terraforming" an area to suit Necromorph needs, as these poisons, while toxic to Humans, increase the speed at which the Corruption grows. They are only found in the original Dead Space, in the Ishimura's Hydroponics level.
Crawlers, like Lurkers, are made from the carcasses of Human infants, but serve an entirely different purpose. The abdomens of Crawlers mutate in an identical way to the left arms of Exploders, turning them into grossly deformed suicide bombers. In order to allow the bulbous things to move, their limbs are twisted around backwards, so that their chemical sacs do not drag on the ground. They act very similarly to Exploders, with their one and only strategy being to crawl up to targets and explode, which they can seemingly trigger at will. It is unknown why Crawlers even exist in the first place, as they are far, far weaker and slower than Exploders and their explosions are smaller and less powerful, not to mention that Lurkers have proven to be a perfectly viable use for the corpses of infants, filling a unique and useful position in the Necromorph "ecosystem", whereas even in great numbers Crawlers are almost no threat to a decently-armed Human.
A new strain encountered in Dead Space 2, Stalkers appear to have been created at least partially from non-human remains; although they possess humanoid bodies, their heads are bare skulls that were clearly never human. No animals aside from small birds are ever encountered in Dead Space 2, so it is unknown what they would be made of. Stalkers hunt in small groups, and prefer areas where they can ambush their prey, hiding behind obstacles and peeking around corners to locate their victims before dashing into sight and charging their prey at very high speeds, letting out their signature terrifying screams as they do so.
The Hunter is a singularly unique, all-powerful Necromorph that is encountered twice in Dead Space. Not actually a "natural" strain of the Necromorph virus, the Hunter was created by Dr. Challus Mercer, who believed that the Necromorphs were holy representations of his religion, Unitology. By inserting a sample of the Corruption, the meat that grows on the walls in heavily infested areas, into the brain of a living victim, Mercer caused a transformation that turned the man into a creature visually similar to Slashers, but with a significant advantage; the Hunter has a special ability that allows it to regenerate lost limbs, making it impossible to kill through dismemberment. The Hunter's attack is extremely powerful; on Impossible difficulty it kills the player in one hit. During the first encounter, the Hunter is defeated by freezing it inside a cryo-chamber. Later, it is de-thawed and encountered again. It's finally destroyed by incinerating it with the fire from the shuttle engines.
This unique Necromorph is made up of dozens of bodies mashed together to form a single enormous monstrocity. It was encountered by Isaac Clarke inside the USG Ishimura's zero-gravity food storage facility, on the Hydroponics deck. The Leviathan extends meaty tendrils into many other segments of Hydroponics, and may have something to do with the Wheezers spread throughout that area. It has few recognizable bodily features, the primary ones being an enormous toothy mouth containing a weak spot, surrounded by three tentacles ending in weak spots of their own which can retract into the Leviathan's body to hide from damage, and even switch places should one or more be destroyed.
This mysterious creature, referred to as the "Ubermorph" by developers, is drawn towards the Marker in the centre of Government Sector of Titan Station. It exhibits many of the same traits as the Hunter from the Ishimura incident, such as being able to regenerate any dismembered body parts, including its head, rendering it essentially invincible. In point of fact, it uses the same skeleton as the Hunter (though the Ubermorph has a different model) and even shares all animations, sound effects, and its special death sequence. However, the creature is not entirely identical. While the Hunter was restricted to appearing during scripted events, the Ubermorph actively pursues Isaac Clarke through the halls of the Sprawl, leaving and entering rooms via wall vents to continue the chase. Nothing is known about the Ubermorph's origins; while the Hunter was created in an experiment by Challus Mercer, no mention is made of the Ubermorph in any log found on Titan Station. In addition, the Ubermorph, unlike every other Necromorph, does not outwardly appear to be a reshaped Human corpse; it has a very unique "alien" appearance. Also of note, the creature's five eyes are in exactly the same arrangement as the primary weak points on the outside of the Necromorph Hive Mind from the original Dead Space.
Introduced in Dead Space 3, the Brethren Moons are the presumed final stage of the Necromorph infection. Once enough organic material has been assimilated, the Marker triggers a Convergence Event and all infected lifeforms are drawn toward it and then expelled into the atmosphere where they begin to coalesce into a large moon-sized super-organism.
In the final stages of the Brethren Moon's creation, it absorbs the original Marker along with its creator ("Make us whole"), and begins to telepathically broadcast to a vast network of Moons within the galaxy before being drawn to any other nearby Markers and continuing to feed. It is presumed that these Brethren Moons are responsible for the extinction of countless other species, explaining why humanity has yet to encounter an alien race during its expansion across the galaxy.