The Necromorphs are the reanimated bodies of the dead, revived and reshaped into horrific new forms by recombinant extraterrestrial genes. These creatures are extremely aggressive, and will attack any non-necromorph on sight. The sole purpose of almost all Necromorphs is to create more bodies to spread the infection, while the role of one particular creature, the infector, is to specifically infect non-necromorphs to make more of themselves.
Injuries that would kill an ordinary being, particularly the attack on necromorphs of where the vital organs of the host organism would be, have little effect on them, and conventional methods of attack require tremendous skill to kill or even damage them.
Countless people have died due to not knowing the Necromorphs' only vulnerability: cutting their limbs off. The only effective way to "kill" a Necromorph is to shoot or cut enough of its limbs off to disable it (arms and legs). Because of the fact that the vital organs that were once in the torso and chest area of most necromorphs made from human corpses have been mostly replaced by muscle by the necromorph contagion, attaking the chest and torso areas do very little to stop them. It is only wasting your ammo, time, and energy. For most necromorph forms, decapitation (cutting off the head) also does little to stop them.
Once infected, the transformation into a Necromorph is extremely quick, typically happening in a matter of seconds. This transformation is extremely gruesome and disturbing for observers. The body of the Necromorph host is forced into new twisted shapes to fit the function of the newly spawned creature.
The actual type of Necromorph created depends on the location and circumstances, as well as the host body's current form (for example, Lurkers are created from any infant human, or dogs). It is worth noting that some Necromorphs are clearly comprised of more than one human (see Brute), which is an indication that some bodies may be allocated for more efficient use. This is a sign of greater intelligence in the form of planning and effectively utilizing resources. The bacterium responsible for the infection is also referred to as "The Corruption".
All Necromorphs are extremely hardy and capable of surviving in lethal environments due to the fact that they do not need to rely on organs for respiration. As experience shows, shooting them in the torso, or even the head is ineffective. While it does inflict damage on and will kill them eventually, it is extremely wasteful and potentially lethal; a person may waste a large amount of ammunition, or may be attacked by other Necromorphs while they are concentrated on one.
The Necromorph infection seems to be not only limited to humans, but to all other creatures except the creators of the Marker. This fact is not confirmed completely, but the novel Dead Space: Martyr describes a Necromorph fish which behaves like all other Necromorphs, as it attacks another fish in order to kill and infect it. This also proves that Necromorphs can survive under water. Although no direct evidence of other species being transformed by the infection, the capabilities it possesses for altering the bodies of the dead for any purpose means there is potential for them to use any species available.
Necromorphs are highly aggressive; they attack any non-Necromorph being on sight, regardless of species or age. The sole purpose of this behavior is to spread the infection quickly. Despite being viewed as mindless killing machines, the creatures sometimes display tactical planning and cooperative behavior. They commonly hunt in small packs (see Pack) of mixed individuals with semi-specific roles, and use stealth, ambush, or group tactics to outsmart their victims. This requires a degree of strategic thinking, and points to a certain amount of individual intelligence and communication. Examples of this include using ventilation shafts to sneak up on prey, playing dead, not attacking until the victim is well within striking range or their back is turned, or using a lure to draw known threats into an ambush.
It is strongly implied that the Necromorphs share some form of collective intelligence; on Aegis VII, a Necromorph known as the Hive Mind was encountered, and it was believed to be the central "brain" of the Necromorphs' group consciousness.
Creatures not currently engaging a non-Necromorph target have been observed as performing several different behaviors. Many will wander aimlessly, almost passively, with no real destination, until they are aware of a new victim to kill that they will immediately engage. Some will drag bodies to a different location, possibly to make it easier for an Infector to find. Some will hide themselves inside ventilation shafts, setting up new or resetting previous ambush sites. Some will simply stand in place, waiting for a new victim to come to them. When a target is present but out of range, they will often watch the victim and attempt to intimidate them with loud growls and threatening poses.
Beyond pack tactics the creatures have never really been observed to directly interact with one another (other than the Stalkers, and The Pack see below). They do not audibly talk to one another, they do not touch each other in a social sense (though one might get in the way of another during an attack), and they have not been recorded exchanging more subtle chemical signals between each other, i.e. pheromones are never mentioned.
The scope of their behaviors is expanded upon in Dead Space 2 with the introduction of Stalkers. Outside of the Hive Mind, Stalkers seem to have the strongest sense of pack cohesion and individual intelligence shown from Necromorphs, as they will often peek around corners to lure Isaac while another will charge from a different direction. They are also the only known Necromorphs to directly communicate with one another. The noises they make seem to hold some significance, e.g. the Stalkers will make a noise while or just after Isaac has moved his location, alerting the other Stalkers. It is also possible that they communicate with each other, such as the Pack.
In Dead Space 3, it can be seen that when Necromorphs are left idle for years at a time, they curl up in a hanging patch of the Corruption to conserve their energy and wait for unsuspecting prey. This results in the Necromorphs becoming mummified in the process if left in this state. An example of this is seen when Isaac enters the dilapidated CMS Roanoke, a 200-year old ship in orbit over Tau Volantis. A form of Necromorphs called Wasters are seen carrying melee weapons, something that is odd for Necromorph behavior as they never wielded man-made tools before.
The following event happens 200 years before the events in "Dead Space": The necromorphs actually originated from their bacterial basis dubbed 'The Corruption' by researchers. The Corruption was created by scientists through the code written on the Marker, which was a DNA sequence to create the pathogenic bacteria.
The first cultures synthesized by said code did not grow, despite placement in ideal bacterial conditions. The scientists deemed it a failure, but when they opened an opportunity for the bacteria to react to dead skin and hair cells when one of the cultures was incompletely decontaminated, what resulted was fascinating: the culture grew after regenerating the dead cells and other material with which it had come into contact.
From then on the scientists discovered the potential of the corruption as it could reanimate any type of dead cell (hair, waste, nails,). As the corruption grew, many scientists started to experience violent hallucinations, and several scientists were killed as a result.
One scientist who placed a body in quarantine, found that the corruption had morphed the body into a 'leaper' necromorph. During this time, hallucinations experienced by the scientists significantly increased.
Unknown organic growths were discovered around the lab indicating the bacteria had escaped its quarantine. Those killed by the bacteria changed into necromorphs. The behavior of the bacteria explains why necromorphs kill: they are determined to procreate.
Scientists then discovered that the marker was creating some sort of "dead space" which makes the necromorphs and the corruption lay dormant. They then created an artificial marker which had a dark crimson colouring to create this 'dead space' aura. This new marker, and the necromorphs born of the dead scientists, were then left to rot on Aegis 7.
(to be continued)
In the 26th century, mankind had found a new way to survive: planetcracking. Through planetcracking, planets are literally dismantled to reveal their precious ore and metals beneath the crust. The planets are then mined into nothing but asteroids.
The Ishimura, the largest colonial mining ship, was prepared for a planetcrack on Aegis 7. Five years before, a colony was established to research its geological features in response to Ishimura's planetcrack.
As research continued, researchers found positive results and had also found an alien artifact. Strangely enough, 200 years before it was discovered, an alien artifact was found on Earth which, apart from its reddish color, looked exactly the same.
The second marker was quickly embraced by Unitologists: a religious cult which had now grown large after the discovery of the first marker, their purpose being to study the existence of life. A large portion of the Ishimura's crew were members of this cult, as were many of the colonists. The Unitologists claimed the marker was a sign from a higher power, and therefore it was divine.
Shortly after the discovery of the second marker, various Aegis 7 colonists started experiencing massive hallucinations followed by assaults, exhibitions of schizophrenia and strange behaviors, but not all were affected. Non-unitologists started to blame the marker, but they were ignored.
Believing that the marker would lead them to a new life in a new form, the Unitologists saw it as their right to study the markers exclusively. A mass suicide then took place involving more than 40 members of the religion, under the assumption that they would rise to a new state of being.
Behind the Scenes
The name 'Necromorph' comes from the Greek words Necros (corpse, in the sense of dead) and morph (form), literally "dead form".
The necromorphs come in a variety of different types, including:
- INFECTOR: A bat-like, eyeless necromorph with a massive proboscis, which is driven through the forehead of a corpse, (or a mass of tentacles that seem to have previously been innards is slid down the victim's throat), causing it to mutate into a necromorph based on hormonal state, age, and even body weight. They will avoid living organisms unless they feel threatened by them, mostly just infecting dead bodies.
On the spot mutations can result in an enhanced version of regular necromorphs, their bodies are more durable to perforation (For example, enhanced slashers).
- SLASHER: These are the most common form of necromorph, only because there are plenty of dead humans around to infect and to be infected. Their arms have been shifted to their shoulder blades and their hands grow sharp blade like spikes from their palms; an additional set of arms grow out of their abdomen. They can run at high speeds and will try to get new hosts for the alien scourge known as the INFECTOR. Their look may differ depending on their gender, class of officer and the length of time they have been mutated (some wear trousers, have breasts, have darker skin and scream in a different pitch of voice). Female slashers are not as aggressive as males but they are able to spit acidic projectiles. In Dead Space 2, a new form of female slashers called Spitters are the ones who spit acid instead of normal female slashers. Under certain circumstances, for example, an abscence of female corpses, male slashers develop a large, cannon-like structure growing out of their necks and forcing their heads out of the way. Enhanced slashers are much more resilient, can't spit acid like the female variant but strike harder and move faster.
- LURKER: These necromorphs are dead babies and still retain their infant bodies. They have 3 large tentacles that emerge from beneath their back plates. These can be used to grapple on (and possibly decapitate Isaac if his health is critically low) or they can use the barbs on the end of them as a ranged weapon. They crawl on all fours and use suction cups to crawl on walls and ceilings both in normal and zero-G environments, meaning that they may attack from any direction. It has an enhanced variant. Killing them requires dismembering their tentacles, advanced ones require all tentacles. In Dead Space 1 and 2, they are formed from babies; in Dead Space 3, from dogs.
- CRAWLER: Like the lurker, they are created from dead infants and can crawl on all surfaces, but rather than tentacles, their stomachs have been filled with chemicals similar to that of an Exploder, and like an exploder, are quite slow. However it is much less dangerous if you keep your distance and keep good aim. They often attack in groups, which you can use to your advantage, but can be troublesome if you get knocked over.
- PREGNANT: These are female and male necromorphs, since these critters are big in size their speed is hindered but they are still quite fast and use blades (much like the slashers) to strike at Isaac. Their stomach is their deadliest weapon. When shot in the stomach to a certain degree, they release a swarm of tiny necromorphs (made out of dead skin cells). These will latch on to Isaac and slow him down while his health rapidly decreases. Isaac will have to come to a complete stop to shake them off. (Later on, Lurkers and un-living limbs called COMPONENTS will come out instead of a swarm.) If Pregnants are killed without releasing their spawn, their contents die as well.
- TWITCHER: Military personnel (or anyone who has a built-in stasis module in their armor) who had the unfortunate luck to be turned into a necromorph have the joy of being a Twitcher. They have a body that is very hard to take down because of their twitches and are thus harder to dismember. The one thing that sets these apart from normal slashers are their stasis modules, which fused with their flesh during mutation and instead of slowing them down had a reverse affect, accelerating their movements to almost unbelievable speeds. These movements are often blurry and they can cross a large room or distance in seconds. Once they have spotted Isaac they instantly spring into eliminate mode. Don't let them corner you!
- LEAPER: A necromorph which has mutated its lower half. Its legs are fused into a single, muscular tail armed with a large spear-like tip and, as its name suggests, allows it to make leaps across great distances. It can also crawl on walls and ceilings. It is not as resilient as other necromorphs and instead prefers to ambush its prey. It is particularly dangerous in zero-g due to its crawling abilities as it may attack from any direction, and in a vacuum there is no sound which makes it harder to detect. It has an enhanced variant.
- BRUTE: A truly monstrous creature, the Brute is formed from multiple bodies fused together. It has heavy layers of flesh converted to chitin that serve as armor on its massive arms and head which it uses to protect itself and to ram opponents. It will stop at nothing to kill its prey and will rip and tear without a second thought. Fortunately it is rare and it lacks armor on its legs so attacking its back and legs gives the best chance of victory. If you have precise aim there is weak points in their shoulders. Shoot these points and you can take it down much easier than a head-on attack. If one arm is shot off, it will spit explosive globules.
- WHEEZER: This species stays anchored to one spot in a crouched position. Its purpose is to transform the breathable air aboard the Ishimura, exhaling a deadly noxious substitute using a large, mutated lungs on its back. Isaac must kill all of these in the Hydrophonics sector to before the life-support systems can go back on-line.
- DIVIDER: The divider is a tall-bodied necromorph. When killed it will fall to the ground and separate into 5 parts: the 2 arms, a head, and 2 legs. The body parts will grow tentacles and crawl after you. The head has a special grapple attack, attempting to decapitate you and then take over your body. This enemy type can be heard coming before its appearance, due to the eerie groans it emits.
- COMPONENTS-Mutated limbs and heads from a divider.
- SWARMER: These are somehow formed inside of the pregnant necromorphs. They are small and if you do not kill the pregnant necromorph the right way at least 10 of these will burst out of it. They are basically nothing but boneless bits of flesh with teeth. If they get close enough to you they will leap on to you and start to chew on you. Bad news all around.
- EXPLODER: These necromorphs have their legs fused into one spindly limb. Their dominant arm is mutated into a huge sack of chemicals, which explode if struck hard enough. If the sack is dismembered it can still attack Isaac but it is very weak. Its head is split in two to create a mouth and can bite Isaac in half. Yes, in half! Before it can do so use your kinesis to grab its exploding sack and launch it right back at him.
- HUNTER: Created by Dr. Challus Mercer on the USG Ishimura, the Hunter is a unique necromorph. Towering over Isaac, if its limbs are lost or it takes damage it can regrow its limbs and head as well. It can only be incapacitated with severe burning or by freezing it. If caught by this creature it will immediately stab you and slice off your limbs one by one with its massive bladed arms. He'll stare into your eyes as he does it, watching you slowly lifting your hand for mercy. The Hunter or regenerator can only be killed through the accessibility of the environment. Such as freezing it, or burning.
- GUARDIAN: Guardians are human torsos that have been fused to doorposts and reanimated by a large section of Corruption that is present on a vertical surface. Their intestines have been mutated into tentacles; should Isaac come into close vicinity of a Mature Guardian a defensive spear tentacle will launch from the central puncture and is a guaranteed decapitation one-hit kill. They can also eject pods from their stomachs and these pods can launch quills from their single, Lurker-like tentacles. Beware, once you sever the pod tentacle the pod explodes in a final attempt to damage you. The distinctive, wailing cries of a mature guardian indicates abject torment.
- NEST: A female form of the Guardian, consisting of two torsos fused together. It flings biological homing missiles at Issac. They can only remain erect in zero gravity, and retreat into an impenetrable shell otherwise.
- STALKER: The stalkers are rather crafty, one comes out in front of Isaac and dodges the shots that isaac fires. After a while they will try to lure Isaac into a pack of their own. These creatures are very fast and attack where Isaac can't reach, like his back. because of their speed they are hard to attack, but one option that Isaac has is firing a mine in front of it and then try to trick it into stepping onto the mine. They are also killed instantly by being impaled with a javelin gun spear; the alternate fire (electrical arc and possibly explosion) create a handy landmine to eliminate it's partner with-stalkers are seldom encountered alone, they are encountered in groups of about 2-10. They also appear to have dog skulls for heads.
- PUKER: This necromorph, as the name suggests, vomits strong acid at enemies. It's legs are twisted to one side, with a third leg made of necrotic tissue provides support, and most of its face has been dissolved by the acid. At a distance, it will launch a ball of acid at Isaac and while it doesn't actually do damage, it slows your movement dramatically, keep an eye out for them during timed events. At close range, it will attempt to rip Issac's helmet off and vomit down his throat. Shooting it's head off will stop this but it will continue to spurt acid from the base of its neck and swipe with its arms.
- PACK: These necromorphs are a group of preschool-aged children infected by the necromorph virus. They attack in groups of approximately ten or so. Being small and agile, they will most likely swarm Issac before he's killed more than one or two. Waiting until they surround you, and spamming melee attacks is a good way to save on ammo-and survive since they are very weak. Alternatively, the Force Gun (once obtained) is extremely effective against them.
- TRIPOD:A necromorph balanced on three spindly limbs. It has two weak points, one on each arm. Once these have been destroyed, it will extend it's long, sickle-tipped tongue. Shoot that weak point to kill it.
- TORMENTOR: A giant form of the Tripod.
- THE SWARM: An evolved form of Component that burrows it's tentacles into fresh corpses, turning them into zombies. Not to be confused with Swarmers.
- WASTER: A necromorph resembling a human in a parka, who has an ice axe in each hand. Shooting his torso off reveals three melee tentacles, while clipping his legs off reveals a pair of projectile-shooting tentacles.
- FEEDER: Skeletal necromorphs developed from people who ate necromorph tissue. Eventually succumbing to food poisoning, the necromorph virus reanimates them into brutally emaciated monsters constantly driven to eat. Constantly making clacking sounds with their jaws they represent malnutritioned and ape like, moving on all fours. They are sensitive to light and sound and will react aggressively if met with physical contact or shining your flashlight in their direction. Upon conflict with a seemingly small group of these Feeders, reinforcements will appear and will provide more harassment like the Pack.
- GRABBER: Long-necked necromorphs residing in the Ishimura's sewage treatment plant. Their heads are split down the middle, and formed into a set of powerful jaws. In the second anime (Aftermath), they can spit acidic slime.
- SLUG: A Giant, amorphous necromorph that has taken up residence on the Ishimura's communications array. Issac fights it using an anti-asteroid autocannon. It attacks by tearing up hull plating and hydrazine canisters and heaving them at Issac's turret.
- LEVIATHAN: An immense, cylindrical necromorph that has taken over the Ishimura's food storage bay. it attacks by flailing at Issac with its tentacles and spitting explosive globules.
- NEXUS: A 30-story tall necromorph Hive Mind that resembles a Praying Mantis. it can swallow a human whole. Issac and John fight it's internal organs to kill it.
- SNOW BEAST: A huge, quadripedal necromorph with a pair of pods on its hind legs, and a centrally located maw. It can lasso Issac with its prehensile mouthparts and devour him. Dismembering the pods and maw is its only weakpoints.
- URCHIN: A giant, immobile, betentacled necromorph living in the Ishimura's sewage treatment plant. It's core body is hidden below the waterline. It attacks by throwing odds and ends at Gabe.
- SPIDER: A large, arachnoid necromorph made up of fused corpses, residing on the Ishimura's hull. It hs a pair of projectile launching tentacles on either side of its back, and it injects tiny organic bombs through its prehensile tongue. It can also birth Leapers to aid it in battle. In the novel Martyr, it has a bomb growing out of its stomach for a Kamikaze attack, and spits skulls. Theories abound that it was the larval form of the Slug.
- CREEPER AND SHAMBLER: Creepers are made from the hosts.
- HIVE MIND: An extremly large necromoph which is apparently the cause of the necromoph outbreak, The Hive Mind acts as a sort of leader, being able to control all other necromophs telepathically. The Hive Mind's main weapon is its enormous tendrils which it will slam to the ground trying to crush Isaac, It can also rip Isaac off his feet and pull him apart with its teeth resulting in an instant death and a game-over screen. The Hive Mind is the final boss of the game and once defeated Isaac will escape from the planet leaving the Hive Mind to be destroyed.
- ALIEN NECROMORPH: A large, durable, quadrupedal necromorph, made from a Tau Volantis Aliens in the first outbreak maybe thousands or millions of years ago. It is susceptible to body-shots, unlike other necromorphs, and spawns Alien-based Crawlers that move faster than Crawlers seen in Dead Space 2. Unlike other necromorphs, it is relatively unmutated, save for it's size and spawning ability. With an active instant to charge its prey, the head is resistant to most gunfire but dismemberment of arms/legs will prevent or cripple this attack.
- THE MEDUSA: A floating necromorph held aloft by vulnerable balloon sacs. When a sac is destroyed, it fires projectiles. If to close to the top the Floater will attempt to devour Isaac or grab at him with its 4 appendages on the lower end of the balloon sac.
- THE BRETHREN MOONS: An astronomically huge necromorph the size of a small planet. Ultimately responsible for controlling the necromorphs, and the ultimate goal of Convergence. Issac must use TK Amplifier platforms to shoot Markers into the creature's eyes; whereupon it retaliates by firing pods containing Slashers and Twitchers. It will also attempt to eat Issac; shoot its tentacles to make it stop. The pods also resemble half destroyed markers.
Necromorphs have very little weaknesses: they can easily withstand a barrage of bullets and Necromorphs can only be killed by dismembering their limbs until they are completely dead. Even then, Necromorphs don't really die, considering they're already dead in the first place, so much as become disabled. However, some Necromorphs require more than dismembering to be neutralized. They also have an origin connected to an ancient obelisk called the Marker, which was built by an unknown race. Humans found it on Earth, and cloned it. It was activated on Aegis 7, which killed everybody there and caused a Hive Mind to form. The Red Marker is able to suppress the Hive Mind.