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According to an in-game description two types of Necromorphs exist, those that exist to infest dead bodies and those that exist to create new corpses - in other words Necromorphs kill other species in order to survive.
Despite their single-minded crusade to eliminate all other species, the Necromorphs are worshipped as gods by many members of the Church Of Unitology.
Necromorphs are named after "necro" - which means dead and "morph" - which means form.. making their literal name "dead forms": as their name implies Necromorphs are similiar in many ways to zombies but are not undead - instead they are a unique form of alien life but are just as dangerous to the living due to their desire to spread and their parasitic nature.
Necromorphs are created through power of Markers (either Black Marker or its derivation Red Markers), alien object that emit a highly concentrated electromagnetic signal that alters any dead tissue in range on a cellular level, converting it into Necromorph tissue and re-animating the corpse of the host organism. This signal also affects the minds of intelligent life forms, usually manifesting as dementia and resulting in homicidal and suicidal actions – laying out a rich field of fodder for the Necromorph infection.
Once some Necromorphs created, these Necromorphs would butcher any non-Necromorph lifeforms on sight so their corpses can be reanimated either via infection with their cells or Markers' powers.
Types of Necromorphs
SlasherSlashers are the most common Necromorphs, posing the greatest threat when in groups. They are named for the large bone blades that emerge from the hands of their upper arms, which can be the infected corpses’ original arms or can be newly sprouted limbs. Slashers also have an atrophied set of lower arms, which usually have little purpose, but can sometimes be used to hold their prey. Bones in the feet of Slashers are extended, most notably the heel bone, which adds balance. It helps them in climbing on walls or running, but walking is harder. More durable Slashers can also result from more decayed corpses and female Slashers can spit acid projectiles.
LeaperLeapers are more animalistic Necromorphs with more muscular arms and the top of their heads seem to have separated from the neck, also sporting a set of mandibles on their heads and mutated jaws. However their most notable trait are their long scythe-like tails created from the corpses’ innards and legs, fused together into a single limb. Leapers’ tails can coil to about a third of its original length and they can use these to propel themselves, letting them leap long distances. Leapers also sport large fangs and claws and can move quite fast, often inhabiting areas with no gravity so as to take advantage of their fast moves.
LurkerLurkers are the result of the corpses of infants being transformed into Necromorphs. They have been mutated heavily, due to lacking any physiology that could be used to kill, and have become little more than a mass of muscle. Lurkers’ skin have become leathery and a set of tentacle like appendages extend from their lower stomach, which act as their primary means of movement. Lurkers attack with a trio of whippy barbed tentacles that extend from their backs and the tentacles can fire barb projectiles.
InfectorInfectors are the Necromorphs responsible for helping them to spread, constantly hunting for corpses to infect. The host corpse is twisted and broken, developing bat-like wings formed from flaps of flesh between their limbs. The head becomes the Infectors’ feelers and a stinger-like appendage, made from a fusion of bone, flesh, and spinal tissue. The Infectors’ use these appendages to spread the Necromorph infection, enveloping the corpse in their wings and driving its stinger into the skull to inject a fluid stored inside its body.
PregnantPregnants sport an enormous sac that contains lesser Necromorphs and have two large arms with bone scythes. The host corpses’ arms are fused into the sac and in troublesome situations, Pregnants tear open their sacs to release the Necromorph spawn inside. They have smaller legs so as to balance themselves out and can move at a decent speed despite their bulk.
The best method to kill Pregnants is avoid hitting the sac as should the sac was attacked, Swarmers inside would be released and swarm the player. Also, had a Pregnant decapitated, they would wind up slashing everything around them blindly, which is useful should this Necromorph also accompanied by another.
SwarmerSwarmers are small Necromorphs that seem to be nothing more than reanimated chunks of flesh. They attack in groups and try to swarm and overwhelm their targets, tearing them apart.
BruteBrutes are large Necromorphs created from numerous corpses. They have spiky armored skin on most of their bodies to protect them and have high physical strength, as well as surprising speed. However Brutes have notable yellow weak points on their bodies, which can be used as a means of severing their limbs. If they lose their legs, they can fire organic bombs out of holes in their stomachs.
GuardianGuardians are immobile Necromorphs, created from human corpses fusing into the enormous Necromorph entity known as the Corruption. As this Necromorph develops, it becomes less and less human-like and grows more actively hostile. The Guardians lose their arms and develop large sacs and openings in their lower bodies. These openings have appendages sprouting out of them, helping attach them to the wall. The Guardians can attack with scythed appendages made from their innards, but their most notable ability is their ability to spew forth embryo-like Necromorphs called Pods. These Necromorphs attack with tentacles and can burst in a small explosion, though they are little danger unless they swarm enemies.
WheezerWheezers are unique Necromorphs that do not directly attack people, instead sitting stationary. The only threat they pose is the poisonous gas that they breath from their lungs, which have grown to large size and sprouted out their backs. Wheezers’ arms and legs are fused together, preventing them from moving, and they can be easily killed.
ExploderExploders are suicide bomber-esque Necromorphs with large glowing growths on their arms that are extremely explosive. The corpse hosts of these Necromorphs have had their heads split in half and they can use these two halves to bite at enemies. Exploders’ other arms and legs have developed to help balance them out, so they can manage a clumsy walk. When they have gotten close to enemies. Exploders swing the explosive pustules on their arms at them or against the ground. This results in a large explosion, which can easily blow humans to bits and usually kills the Exploder.
Dividers are tall, lanky Necromorphs, able to split apart into smaller Necromorphs after they have been damaged enough. These Divider spawns are not as durable as the original Divider, but they are very fast. They move along with tentacles and jump onto and attack their enemies.
TwitcherTwitchers result from corpse hosts that possess stasis modules. The modules fuse into these Necromorphs’ flesh, reversing their effects and making Twitchers able to move much faster than normal Necromorphs. They also move rather erratically and even have a blur when seen up close. Twitchers are designed similarly to Slashers, though more muscular and some lack the small appendages on their chests, but have larger bone scythes. They have a large gap on top of their skulls, which is filled with tentacles and seem to lack eyes.
PukerPukers are Necromorphs that can spit corrosive bile out of their mouths and also have sharp claws. They are heavily mutated with one leg being made of the hosts’ intestines and the other being the hosts’ original legs fused into one. The Pukers’ lack eyes, their jaws are fused into their necks, and their lungs are visible, clearly full of their bile. Their flesh also hangs loosely from their bodies due to the way they expel bile.
TripodTripods are three-legged Necromorphs composed of multiple corpses and are highly vicious even by Necromorph standards. They attack mostly with their brute strength, but also use their bladed tongues. Tripods have large yellow weak points visible on their arms and tongues and they are brought down when they lose their arms. There exists a unique female version of the Tripod, which has a female corpse as its main host and a more tentacle-esque tongue.
The PackThe Pack are a group of Necromorphs created from children, acting as a predatory herd and are rarely encountered alone. They aren’t as mutated as other Necromorphs, now sporting bony claws, enhanced muscles, and a more open fanged mouth. However the members of the Pack are easily torn to shreds, which may be why they act as a group and they seem to coordinate through sound.
StalkerStalkers are raptor-like Necromorphs that use flanking, stealth, and group-tactics to catch their prey. They sport large claws and their rib cages have spread open, though most of their organs are now gone. However Stalkers most notable feature are their large domed skulls, which they use to smash against their opponents and also help to protect themselves from attacks. Stalkers are possibly the most intelligent Necromorphs, moving around, hiding, attempting to lure their targets, fleeing when damaged, and attacking only when they think their prey’s guard is down.
CystCysts are immobile Necromorphs that seem to grow from the Corruption. Whenever anything comes near them, they fire explosive pods into the air that explode upon hitting the ground.
CrawlerCrawlers, like Lurkers, are Necromorphs resulting from using infants as hosts. They are extremely bloated with an explosive substance inside them and the torso and head are twisted backwards. Crawlers also have had their legs fused together, making them crawl along.
NestNests are Necromorphs created from female host corpses, which are fused with at least one other corpse. They have bulbous appendages sprouting from them and a mess of flesh on the bottom that anchor them down. While normally retracted into these bases, Nests will emerge when anything comes near them and release swarms of glowing Necromorphs that act as projectiles, homing on targets and exploding when they hit. If the target gets too close, Nests will retreat back into their invulnerable lower sections until the target moves away.
The HunterThe Hunter is a unique Necromorph created by Dr. Challus Mercer, which was created by placing some of the Corruption’s tissue inside a human. It is built similarly to the Slasher, but bigger and stronger and can regenerate lost limbs, meaning that the dismemberment method used on other Necromorphs will only stop the Hunter temporarily. The Hunter pursued Isaac Clarke throughout the USG Ishimura and he was only able to escape it or temporarily disable it on each occasion. However he was finally able to wipe the Hunter out when he test fired the engine of a shuttle while it was in the way, incinerating it completely.
The CorruptionThe Corruption is the single largest Necromorph entity, though it does not directly harm other creatures. Its unsteady design does slow down those that walk on it and it also removes oxygen from the air, changing it into poisonous gas that makes any kind of long term survival near impossible. Since the Corruption drastically changes habitat, it may be key to the Necromorph infection and it seems to aid them in adapting to the different environments they must deal with.
The LeviathanThe Leviathan is a large Necromorph entity that collided with the Ishimura as it was drifting in space. It made its way into the hydroponics area of the ship, infesting there. The Leviathan has a large gaping mouth, which has a bulbous orb in the center and three large tentacles. It attacks by swinging with its tentacles, spawning Pods, and spitting out organic bombs. Isaac Clarke confronted this Necromorph in the hydroponics area due to it causing the air to degrade and managed to destroy it.
The SlugThe Slug is another large Necromorph entity that attached itself to the blast doors on the outside of the Ishimura. It is a large, mostly immobile mass, with five large tentacles. Needing to open them to send a message to the USM Valor, Isaac took the helm of one of the asteroid defense cannons and fought it, successfully killing it, and making it detach from the blast doors.
The Hive MindThe Hive Mind is an enormous Necromorph that seems to be the guiding intellect behind the ones on Aegis VII and the Ishimura. It resembles a segmented worm-like creature with a large circular maw that has two sets of jaws and a number of yellow bulbs that act as weak points. The Hive Mind utilizes large tentacles and spitting acid projectiles to attack and has more yellow bulbs in its lower body. It was created by the military testing their experimental Red Marker 200 years before the outbreak. But when the Marker proved too dangerous, the experiments were abandoned and it was used to suppress the Hive Mind. After the Marker was taken aboard the Ishimura, the Hive Mind was awakened, beginning the Necromorph outbreak. Isaac Clarke managed to return it, suppressing the Hive Mind once again, but after Kendra Daniels tried to retake the Marker, the Necromorph reawakened. It killed Kendra and attacked Isaac, but he managed to bring it down.
The TormenterThe Tormenter is a massive Necromorph, formed from numerous corpses. It has a lean serpentine build with a large fanged maw and mandibles on its head. The Tormenter has long arms, connected to its body by yellow tissue, which act as a weak point, and the rest of its body is a mess of spikes and tissue. This Necromorph is quite strong, able to deal with fire from a gunship without any sign of damage. The Tormenter attacked Isaac after he dropped down a vent to escape Tiedmann’s forces. It managed to grab Isaac, who succeeded in escaping its grasp and it pursued him onto Tiedmann’s gunship, grabbing him when he tried to jettison away. However the Tormenter tore off the ship’s fuel canisters and Isaac shot them, destroying the Necromorph in the explosion.
The UbermorphThe Ubermorph is a unique Necromorph, notable for the fact that it has no human traits in its design. It is built similarly to the Slasher, though a good deal bulkier, and has a pair of small arm-like appendages on its torso, in addition to its larger clawed arms. Like the Hunter, the Ubermorph is able to regenerate itself, making it practically impossible to kill. After Isaac deactivated the power in the government sector, letting the Necromorphs swarm it, the Ubermorph found its way inside as well. As Isaac started to find the secrets of stopping the Marker, the Ubermorph pursued him and he was forced to constantly escape the Necromorph. The Ubermorph was finally destroyed after the Titan Station’s reactor exploded.
The GraverobberThe Graverobber is a Necromorph that was supposed to appear in the short animated film Dead Space: Downfall, but was finally cut most likely due to time constraints. Originally, it would have pursued Alissa Vincent until getting smashed by the Ishimura's centrifuge.
The Graverobber has a bear-like stance and possesses three jawless heads and pincers. It also has large, Slasher-like blades. The most interesting part about this creature is that its upper half is composed of the dead bodies of Ramirez, Samuel Irons and the shower woman. This Necromorph would find deceased bodies and within seconds fully eat the body.
- Necromorphs bear similarities to a number of other creatures featured in science fiction films, literature and video games:
- Necromorphs are similar to the "Xenomorphs" in the Alien movies in that they will travel by vent or other areas that they climb from for the element of surprise. Both species also parasitize human bodies in order to reproduce.
- Necromorphs are similar to the Flood from the Halo series and The Many from System Shock 2. All three infect other lifeforms, twisting them into undead creatures designed to infect more hosts, and are controlled by gargantuan creatures composed of countless corpses.
- Necromorphs also bear a resemblance to the monsters from the 1989 movie Leviathan. In the film, a deep-ocean mining team encounters a mutagen that can merge together, re-shape and reanimate the corpses of the dead. The plot of the film bears some parallels with that of Dead Space: Martyr.
- Necromorphs also share similarities to the alien species referred to as 'The Race' featured in the 2002 game Run Like Hell in which they are both creatures that require human corpses to create new creatures or to modify existing beings. As well as both species being able to communicate to the human protagonist through crude methods (Brethren Moons using the Markers and telepathic means, whilst the race turns humans into creatures that share their characteristics as well as personality and intelligence). Interestingly both species also use corpses to create flesh-like walls that slowly consume the environment around them.
- Necromorphs also have traits resembling the parasitic alien life forms from the series of films based on the film The Thing, specifically the John Carpenter film and it's prequel. The Thing is an alien life-form that takes on the traits of it's victims, but is also able to mold it's body into new forms that allow it to fight, such as a set of teeth in the ribcage and large tentacles.
- This parallel is taken further in Dead Space 3, where the primary setting is on a frozen planet, and the setting of both Thing films was in the antarctic.