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There are few things better in the world of gaming than when we feel truly bonded with our main protagonist; after all, how are we supposed to care about anything that happens to or around our protagonist or player character if we don’t like them or know who they are at their core.
This is where intricate storytelling and impressive character writing skills must come to the fore. This skill and dedication to building a protagonist is even more critical when the protagonist in question is not only the player character for one game but also the one developers hope to build an entire franchise around. After all, could we have had so many Harry Potter films if we simply didn’t care whether or not Voldermort managed to kill him? No, I don’t think so.
With this being said, why don’t we jump into the main character that has brought you to this Issac Clarke guide, the main protagonist of the Dead Space franchise and our favorite space engineer? Let’s go!
As with all good stories, we should start at the beginning. Isaac Clarke was born on the 5th of June 2465 to his parent, Poul (yes, this is how they spell it for some reason) and Octavia Clarke.
Both of his parents were successful in their own right. Poul was a well-known shipbuilder employed within the Galactic Union Marine Corporation. He worked hard for his family and managed to climb his way up the ladder until he began amassing great wealth, building a rather sizable estate for him and his family. However, due to this increasing pressure to provide for his family in an incredibly competitive environment, Poul would routinely leave his fledgling family and young son for extended periods, leaving Octavia alone with the child, forcing her to balance both her career and Isaac’s care.
Due to Poul’s continued absence and mounting pressure on Octavia, she would eventually fall victim to frequent bouts of depression during Isaac’s childhood. This would all come to a head when Isaac was just four years old as Poul would suddenly vanish, never to return. This disappearance is never truly settled throughout the game; however, we find files scattered throughout the franchise about Poul, labeled as top secret.
Whether it was the grief of losing her husband or her increasingly unbalanced mental state, it would seem that Octavia would suddenly fall head first into the grasp of the Church of Unitology. The church’s grip would prove so significant on Octavia that she would donate the entire Clarke family wealth to the church in exchange for the title of The Vested.
Whether it is due to disdain towards his mother, a feeling one gets throughout the franchise, or because of his natural inclinations, Isaac decided to head down an educational route similar to that of his father, seeking qualifications in electrical and mechanical engineering.
The school that Isaac originally applied to accepted the bright young man; however, due to high tuition fees and his mother’s squandering of the family wealth within the Church of Unitology, Isaac could not afford these fees, forcing him into a lesser program at a cheaper institution.
In the end, however, Isaac did not allow this lesser education or experience to set him back; instead, he graduated with high honors and landed himself a ship systems engineer within the Concordance Extraction Corporation. Isaac would hold this job for a couple of years before needing to serve, enlisting within the C.E.Cs Merchant Marines division.
It was also during this time that Isaac would begin dating and living with Nicole Brennan; however, as their relationship stagnated, Isaac would push Nicole into joining the USG Ishimura. She would eventually agree and join the ship’s crew, ending their relationship.
A True C.E.C Man
While employed within the Marines, Isaac would feel his career begin to slow and stagnate, forcing the now middle-aged ship engineer to look elsewhere for a sense of achievement and meaning.
It wasn’t long, however, until such an opportunity presented itself. While onboard the USG Kellion, Isaac would volunteer to serve as part of an emergency response crew tasked with investigating a distress signal sent out by the USG Ishimura. This mission would, therefore, see Isaac and his new team, journey to the last known location of the Ishimura, orbiting just outside the Aegis cluster.
- Isaac Clarke was born to Poul and Octavia Clarke in 2465. However, he is 43 at the time of Dead Space 1.
- Poul disappeared when Isaac was 4, resulting in Octavia joining the Church of Unitology in search of solace.
- Isaac encouraged his then-girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, to join the crew of the USG Ishimura.
Dead Space 1
Reaching the Ishimura
When Isaac and the crew of the USG Kellion made it to the last known location of the Ishimura and found the massive ship listing in space, they immediately tried to hail the vessel over comms; however, they received no intelligent response, merely static.
This lack of response inspired curiosity and fear within Isaac’s crew. Therefore, they decided to dock their ship and board the silent vessel. This would prove more difficult than expected, as the Kellion’s docking procedure malfunctioned, and both ships were damaged. While this was a setback, it did not prevent the emergency crew from boarding the Ishimura.
When Isaac first boarded the Ishimura with a number of his crew, everything seemed deserted, with even the flight deck being void of all life. Not long into their investigation within this flight deck, the crew was attacked by a group of horrifying yet unidentifiable creatures.
The carnage that would soon follow resulted in most of the crew being torn apart, leaving only Isaac, Computer Specialist Kendra Daniels and Chief Security Officer Zach Hammond. These monsters would be later revealed to be Necromorphs, antagonists birthed through the mutation of human corpses via a recombinant extraterrestrial infection that can aggressively attack and re-order the human genome. These beings’ sole goal is to capture more humanoid bodies to spread their disease further.
See also: Comprehensive Necromorph Guide.
For some reason or another, Isaac found himself cut off from his comrades, only being able to contact them via RIG, an integrated health and strength management system that most of the crew used.
Through this system, both Daniels and Hammond took it upon themselves to order Isaac around the ship, having him repair several elements of the Ishimura while being pursued by the terrible monsters that now inhabit the ship. Throughout this time, the player may feel a little bit of resentment for Daniels and Hammond as they sit pretty whilst Isaac battles his way through monster after monster.
An Old Friend
Throughout Isaac’s travels on the vessel, the player routinely caught glimpses of his former girlfriend, Nicole Brennan. These glimpses come via computer monitors or radio transmissions.
During this time, both of Isaac’s remaining crewmates would leave in one way or another. Hammond would be killed by a Brute Necromorphy, while Daniels would reveal herself as a traitor and member of the Earth Government Agency. She would show her true identity shortly before escaping the Ishimura with the Marker, leaving Isaac trapped aboard the infested ship.
See also: Dead Space Marker Guide.
However, Isaac was soon found by Nicole. Not only did Nicole manage to help Isaac out of his current predicament, but she also managed to call back Kendra’s shuttle, forcing her to instead flee via an escape pod.
After the shuttle was returned along with the Marker, Nicole encouraged Isaac to return the device to Aegis 7.
Once Isaac was convinced of his new mission by Nicole, it did not take him long to return the Marker to its pedestal. However, doing this resulted in the device releasing a large EMP blast which disabled the gravity field that held Aegis 7 in place, resulting in the section of the planet beginning to hurtle back towards the rest of the planet’s surface.
At this stage, Isaac began to try and flee the rapidly descending rock before a Domesday level event could occur. However, Kendra Daniels again got in the way, removing the Marker from its pedestal to stow it on her getaway ship.
At this stage, with Isaac trapped, Kendra insisted on showing Isaac how the ship and the events he had been through were turning him insane. As she began playing Nicole’s last video message for Isaac, she allowed the video to finish, culminating in Nicole taking her own life instead of facing the horrors of the Necromorphs. It would, therefore, appear that Nicole had been dead long before Isaac and his crew arrived; instead, the Marker had been manipulating Isaac via numerous hallucinations to ensure his help returning it to its pedestal.
Soon after this horrendous revelation, Isaac and Kendra were attacked by the Hive Mind, which killed Kendra almost immediately and tried to do the same to Isaac. After a protracted battle, Isaac overcame the beast and killed it.
This encounter would spell the end of Isaac’s heroic feats in Dead Space 1 as he soon after abandoned the Aegis fragment for his escape shuttle. On board, he piloted the vessel deftly, managing to escape the massive seismic blast that resulted from the fragment’s impact. Once clear, Isaac was attacked by another hallucination of Nicole, and this event would bring Dead Space 1 to a close.
- When the crew arrived on Irishuma, it was abandoned and devoid of life. However, they were soon attacked by Necromorphs.
- Throughout the game, Isaac is manipulated by the Marker, appearing as Nicole, encouraging him to do its bidding.
- Isaac must defeat the Hive MInd at the end of the game; a massive mutated Necromorphs built of numerous human corpses.
- Isaac escapes the planet but is subsequently attacked by another hallucination of Nicole.
Dead Space 2
After the events of Dead Space 1, players were left transfixed by the final scenes and their worry for Isaac. However, shortly after booting up Dead Space 2, we find out that Isaac and his ship were found drifting through space by Recovery Patrol X22375. This rescue ship was captained by Captain Maxmillian Reinhardt and Xander Sklar, owners of the best names in the galaxy.
Immediately after his rescue, Isaac was deemed severely injured in close to death. Therefore, the medical staff on board the rescue vessel placed Isaac in a stasis chamber until he could be transferred over to Titan Station.
Once Isaac is successfully transferred to Titan Station, it is revealed that he is now in the hands of the people Kendra was working for in the previous game, the Earth Government. This group, already poised as an antagonist of the series, then begin conducting a series of experiments on Isaac, trying to extract Marker information from his brain via invasive procedures, all taking place under the Project Telemere banner.
As cover for these experiments and as a way to keep their subjects under control, they placed Isaac in the psychiatric ward of the Titan Medical Centre for the entire three years that these tests were conducted, diagnosing Isaac with post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia. During this time, Isaac and the other subjects under the care of the EarthGov were fed memory suppressant drugs as the organization continued its work on the Site 12 Marker.
Another Day Another Outbreak
As you might imagine, the developers of Dead Space 2 didn’t want to wait long until they plunged Isaac back into the Necromorpth populated hell of the previous iteration of the series. Therefore, during his captivity, an outbreak occurred and ravaged the Sprawl. This forced Franco Delille, a Unitologist and engineer on board the Titan, to free Isaac, saving him from the Necromorphs. However, in the event that would suggest karma is, in fact, not real, Franco was immediately killed by a Necromorph.
Now free, Isaac immediately made his way through the station, finding a terminal wherein he was instructed by a woman named Daina. From her, Isaac was instructed to make his way to her via countless Necromorphs and EarthGov troops in order to cure his dementia. According to Daina, the dementia was not only aiding the addling of his mind but was also killing him, and she was the only person who could cure him.
It was when Isaac made his way to Daina that he truly found out what had been going on and just why the EarthGov troops were so hell-bent on killing him. It would seem that during his forced isolation, Isaac had become a pawn in a rather stressful game between the Church of Unitology and the Earth Government Agency, with both wanting to get their hands on Isaac.
Daina, working as an agent of the church, was sent to capture Isaac before the Earth Government Agency could. The church wanted Isaac because he may have the blueprints to build the Aegis 7 Marker locked in his head. The EarthGov, on the other hand, wants him dead so that no new Marker can be created.
Once Isaac made his way to Daina and her trap was sprung, he was saved by an EarthGov attack ship that managed to kill all Unitoligists in site with a massive display of force and gunfire. This violence forced Isaac back inside the facility as the two factions destroyed one another. In this corridor, Isaac was contacted by another test subject, Nolan Stross.
Same Old Fetch Quests
Once contacted by Nolan Stross, Isaac would learn that another Marker was here and that he had to destroy it somehow. Nolan offers assistance, but Isaac must do all the dangerous stuff.
On his journey, Isaac would also meet another survivor named Ellie Langford. Between the three, they become convinced that they will be able to destroy the Marker and make their way to safety. However, this all goes downhill as Stross’s mental state finally breaks under the pressure of the Necromorph attack, attacking Ellie and removing one of her eyes.
This attack on another female who had placed her trust in Isaac resurfaces his hallucinations of Nicole. These visions see Nicole chastise the protagonist for not letting her go, asking why he still held onto her memory so desperately. When Isaac eventually made his way to Ellie and Stross, he was forced to kill Stross, saving Ellie.
A True Hero
After he managed to save Ellie, the pair were lucky enough to find an abandoned and disused mining vessel that could be used for their escape; however, during the repairs, the two came under Necromporph attack, forcing Isaac to hold them off while Ellie worked.
Once the repairs were completed, Isaac activated the ship from outside and pushed Ellie to flee and leave him behind. While she objected to this, the decision was already made, and the mining rig escaped with Ellie safely aboard.
A Continuing March
Once Ellie was safe, Isaac turned his attention back to the matter at hand, the Marker. After making his way through more enemies, he eventually reached the Marker; however, it appeared as though he was too late as the Necromorphs had already arrived in a number large enough to activate a Convergence Event.
Faced with these overwhelming odds, Isaac continued forward until he was blocked by the head of the EarthGov forces on Titan Station, Tiedemann. Finally, Isaac squared off against the man who held him for three years and managed to defeat him.
As soon as Tiedemann lay dead, Nicole’s form appeared in front of Isaac and explained to him why he was so crucial to the Church of Unitology and why he was still needed. It appears that for the Convergence Event to finish, the creators of the Marker must be inherited. After this, Nicole’s form drags Isaac into a state of limbo, hoping to corrupt his mind once and for all, eventually leading to his death.
However, while in this state of limbo, Isaac manages to fight back against Nicole and her influence over him, defeating her within his mind, the action destroying the Marker in reality.
The Destruction of Titan
Once the Marker was destroyed and Isaac managed to regain his consciousness, he became acutely aware that the Marker’s destruction would also result in Titan Station’s destruction; therefore, he became resigned to his fate and waited for death.
However, at the last moment, Ellie burst into the chamber and hovered just long enough for Isaac to use the boosters fitted to his suit to fly into the safety of her mining vessel.
- Isaac managed to rid himself of the Marker’s grip on his mind by destroying Nicole in his limbo.
- The church and the EarthGov want Isaac for their own ends and, therefore, fight each other throughout Dead Space 2 over him.
- Stross loses his mind and attempts to experiment on Ellie. However, the fact that he tried to kill Isaac forced the protagonist to kill him.
Dead Space 3
After all of this, one would assume that Isaac could not possibly endure any more hardships; after all, he was already 43 when the first game kicked off. However, the developers over at Visceral Games had other plans as they released the third installment in the Dead Space franchise with Mr. Clarke as the player character.
The Events Following Dead Space 2
Immediately after the events of Dead Space 2, Isaac and Ellie had nowhere to go; however, they grew worried that they could be held accountable for the events on Titan Station, fearing prosecution or accusations of terrorism. Therefore, the pair would go into hiding in the Earthrise Apartments on Luna’s New Horizons Colony. Here, the pair would become romantically involved.
However, during their time together in hiding, it soon became apparent that Isaac was not wholly free of the Marker as the effects of its prior control on his mind began to show. Due to this grip, Isaac could not move past the events that haunted the pair; this, understandably, placed a strain on their relationship, forcing Ellie to leave.
After the pair split up and Isaac was once again on his own, he continued to run away from his past, continually moving to protect himself from the Marker’s hold over him. However, through all this, he forgot to keep his eye on the church and EarthGov’s struggles. It would seem that things had gotten pretty bad during his absence between the organizations.
Isaac’s leave of absence ended when Sergeant John Carver and Captain Robert Norton of the Earth Defence Force infiltrated his home, explaining that he was needed to destroy another Marker. Initially, he refused, but after they told Isaac that Ellie was somehow involved and had recently gone missing near Tau Volantis, he agreed to help in any way he could.
At this same time, the Circle, a Unitologist military sect, would break into Isaac’s apartment complex to capture him and force him to help them and their religion. However, with the help of Carver and Norton, Isaac tried to escape.
During their attempted escape from the Circle group, Isaac and Carver got separated from Norton, only to stumble into the grips of the Circle commander, Jacob Danik, moments before escaping to safety.
Immediately after their capture, Jacob restrains Isaac just enough to ensure he witnesses the destruction of the Marker Test Lab, a building within earshot of the pair. The collapse of this building killed hundreds of innocent people and deeply hurt Isaac. Soon after this, however, Isaac manages to escape his confinement.
Once they manage to escape Danik and the Circle, Isaac and his team head for Tau Volantis, only to find the abandoned ship, Terra Nova; here, Isaac finds Ellie and her injured friends, just in time for her to implore Isaac too, once again, destroy another Marker. Soon after, however, the Terra Nova plummets out of orbit, forcing the crew to separate during a crash landing procedure.
Once on Tau Volantis, the crew set off in search of a key, known only as “Rosetta,” in the hopes that it can somehow solve the Necromorph problem. However, after Norton betrays Isaac and the rest of the group to Danik, it is revealed that this Rosetta key is merely another horrible alien race held dormant on this planet via cryogenic freezing.
Immediately after this revelation, Isaac’s visions become helpful for once, informing the player that the Necromorphs use the Markers to perpetuate their life cycle and push forward their evolution. An all-out battle follows between Isaac, the Circle soldiers, and the Necromorphs.
Of course, Isaac comes out of all this unharmed, physically at least, and manages to defeat the big bad of Dead Space 3, escaping the planet with comrade Carver. However, in typical Dead Space fashion, this easing of tension only lasts about twenty seconds before they return to earth and witness their home planet being attacked by the moons; one of which crashes into Isaac in a flash of light, leaving the fate of our systems engineer and protagonist unknown.
- Isaac only returns to fight the Markers after Ellie goes missing.
- This title reveals that the Markers are linked to the Necromorph evolutionary system.
- Isaac’s fate is left undecided at the end of Dead Space 3.
Isaac’s Gear and Abilities
Throughout the three Dead Space titles, Isaac has the option of many guns. However, the most iconic of these weapons may just be the Plasma Cutter that most of the promotional material for the franchise displays Isaac holding. This weapon was designed for boulder mining and general space shenanigans; however, in the hands of Isaac, it turns into a deadly weapon.
Apart from this, Isaac is prone to a good old Supercollider Contact Beam and the IM-822 Handheld Ore Cutter. Both of which Isaac uses to dismember the terrible monsters that come his way throughout the franchise, human or alien.
The developers really had their heads screwed on when building Isaac’s character sheet. As a systems engineer with the CEC, he is perfectly trained for most of the issues presented throughout the game. This includes hacking, repairing, and dismantling electronic devices/tools. He is also adept in handling highly sophisticated mining tools and jury-rigging them to serve other, alien-destroying purposes.
Lastly, Isaac has high immunity to the effects of the Marker. This meant that whilst others fell victim to the control of the device, being unable to separate themselves from its power, he was able to defeat it multiple times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is Isaac Clarke still alive?
Answer: Due to the ending of Dead Space 3, we do not know the fate of Isaac. We are also not likely to get any real clarity on this matter, as the franchise has seemingly been put to bed after the shocking sales of DS3.
Question: What does Isaac Clarke suffer from?
Answer: Throughout the games, we are led to believe that Isaac has dementia, routinely seeing hallucinations of his former girlfriend. However, these episodes are revealed to be caused by the Marker, not dementia.
Question: What is Unitology?
Answer: The Church of Unitology and the belief in their doctrine results in a religious belief that the Markers found throughout the Dead Space franchise will somehow bring about eternal life.
So, there you have it, a comprehensive guide to one of the most underrated action protagonists in gaming history. Not only does Isaac Clarke tick all the boxes of any everyday fictional hero, but he also does it all with mere mining equipment; what more could you ask for?
But with all that being said, I really do hope you enjoyed this guide and got something out of it; perhaps you learned a little bit more about the quiet systems engineer and want to play through the titles again? Either way, I wish you good luck out in the vast emptiness of space!