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It’s Been 10 Years Since Dead Space 2’s ‘Eye-Poke’ Nightmare

by : Cameron Frew on : 25 Jan 2021 17:24
It’s Been 10 Years Since Dead Space 2’s ‘Eye-Poke’ NightmareEA

Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye… it’s been 10 years since Dead Space 2‘s traumatising ‘eye-poke’ nightmare. 

Video games have a legacy of scaring us silly, whether it’s the arrival of Pyramid Head, zombie dogs smashing through windows or seeing Lisa’s flickering spectre in those inescapable halls.

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Sure, movies can petrify us, but we only exist in that medium as a passenger, bearing witness to orchestrated frights. In games, to borrow a line from Tenet, we’re the protaganist of the operation. The horrors which befall us are felt even deeper – hence why Dead Space 2 whitens my knuckles by mention of its name alone.

Towards the end of EA’s grim cosmos sequel, Isaac Clarke has to climb into a surgical contraption (the NoonTech Diagnostic Machine, to be precise) to receive some information about the monsters he has to fight. To do so, a needle must be injected directly into his eye – and you, the player, has the pleasure of controlling it.

A voice instructs: ‘Step one: crawl inside. Step two: the screws go tight all around. Cross my heart and hope to die… stick a needle in your eye.’

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The needle lowers, Isaac’s heart rate races along with yours. His eyes dart around in panic. Sooner or later, you have to press the button and complete the procedure – however, if you do it at the wrong time, you’ll see one of the most horrific demises in gaming.

Dead Space 2 EYEEA

The game’s creative director Wright Bagwell earlier told Polygon: ‘I wanted the player to get a really deep sense of anxiety about this, which I thought would come naturally from the fact that you are driving a needle into your eyeball, but I wanted to amplify it by having Isaac on the screen, reflecting his anxiety, too.’

Dead Space isn’t weak on viscera. If you’re not victorious in disassembling a Necromorph – you can’t just shoot them in the head, mind – they will rip you apart limb from limb, guts from guts. Similarly to how The Last of Us lingers over Joel or Ellie’s deaths, but worse.

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Bagwell said: ‘The first time we saw it… I could barely watch it. And when we finished it… I remember everyone in the room still was cringing.’

He added: ‘That was the only thing in Dead Space that would do that. All the jump scares and blood and guts and everything — you just become totally desensitised to it after working on it for weeks. This is the only thing that, to this day, I still will have trouble watching.’

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Gaming, horror

Credits

Polygon
  1. Polygon

    Dead Space 2 director on designing the eye-poke scene: ‘I could barely watch it’