Dead Space is a video game in which you use a variety of re-purposed futuristic mining tools to dismember hoards of corpses that have been reanimated by an alien virus. Although the game itself is pretty fucking rad, the people making it didn’t have all that great a time and had to spend weeks studying photos of actual dead bodies to make the virtual carnage and gore in the game look as realistic as possible.
Dead Space and the direct sequels to it aptly named Dead Space 2 and Dead Space 3, put you in control of Isaac Clarke. An engineer from the future with the ability to obliterate an alien opponent with a singular torso-exploding stomp of his size 9 space-boots.
The primary enemy throughout the series are Necromorphs, human corpses mangled beyond recognition by an infection of alien origins. A primary mechanic of the game is that traditionally effective methods of killing simply don’t work on Necromorphs and even the most basic enemy can withstand multiple shots to the head or torso. Instead players are encouraged to dismember enemies by shooting their arms or legs using improvised weaponry consisting of re-purposed mining and engineering equipment.
As the main antagonist of the entire series is a nebulous infection that turns human corpses into a walking nightmare of kinfe-handed diseased flesh you’re similarly encouraged to dismember or at least be wary of any human remains you see lying around. Because most games are set in a location where the infection has already killed like 90% of the populace, this results in a whole lotta corpse stomping.
Because gore and viscera are such an integral aspect of both the series’ gameplay and story, the artists working on it were held to task when it came to depicting it realistically. in fact, according to the executive producer of the first game, Glen Schofield initial designs for the virtual corpses that would litter the game’s environment were so hilariously shitty looking they were all rejected outright. Schofield was quoted as saying that the initial designs looked “cheap and unrealistic” and he wasn’t happy with how they looked, eventually asking artists to literally go back to the drawing board and try again.
However, this wasn’t before everyone involved with designing the various enemies and backgrounds featured in the game carefully studied photos of car crash victims in various states of decomposition. While this is admittedly all kinds of fucked up, it did help the team working on the game better understand how to more realistically portray the brutal hyper-violence and atmospheric gore the series has since become famous for. Realistic in this sense being a relative term, unless of course car crashes cause people’s skulls to literally fly out of their heads and assume a bird-like form like the enemy in this unused concept art.