Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Unitology and Dead Space 2

The premise of Dead Space 2 takes place on the Sprawl, a massive civilian space station built into the largest remains of Saturn’s moon Titan, which had been broken into pieces during a planet-cracking operation. We follow the continued story of Isaac Clarke who has spent the past three years in an asylum after the events of the original Dead Space. Analysis of the story and setting of the game can be focused on multiple instances of cultural and sociological themes that are relevant in contemporary culture. One of the biggest components of the storyline and consequently the most subject to scrutiny is the presence of the Church of Unitology, a cult-like religion that assumes the role as one of the main antagonists for Isaac. Basically Unitologists believe human life on Earth was created through an intellectual design by some higher form of life. Ironically despite their belief that the advent of man was a science experiment they tend to put blind faith over scientific fact. They believe that after death the bodies of the dead will be resurrected again and the key to this rebirth are these artifacts called Markers. Although the Markers do indeed reanitmate life, it does so by creating abominations called Necromorphs, which disembowel the people of the Sprawl and create havoc. Throughout the game we find out that the church has been using Isaac, who has the blueprints to construct these Markers imprinted in his mind, to build a black Marker on the Sprawl. The Church is arguably a pun on Scientologists, although the game creators have denied this time and again. I believe that the presence of such a sinister organization has a much deeper symbolic and cultural meaning. The church emphasizes the importance of social harmony and unity although its own ranks are determined by a hierarchy and higher positions are bought with money. Also in conflict with this is the church is known to take practice in harmful rituals such as indoctrination procedures and even cases of groups commiting mass suicides. There are members of the church with strong political and economic ties and it is made clear that there is a lot of manipulation and cohersion done in the background. At one point in the game you come across files that have documented potential people within the spawl for conversion. If it wasn’t creepy enough that they have files on everyone each one is complete with a psychological profile with less intelligent and weak-minded individuals marked as great potential for recruitment. The symbolism behind the religion is fascinating and extensive and I could potentially spend a whole essay going in to detail.

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