In Bioshock, the game starts with the player aboard a plane over the Atlantic ocean, in 1960. The title card pops up and the very next scene is our hero drowning underwater. Due to the debris sinking around him we can gather that something has gone wrong and the plane crashed. Our hero, Jack then quickly swims to the surface and thankfully doesn’t drown. Amidst the fire and wreckage, Jack sees a lighthouse. A lighthouse in the middle of the ocean. There are no other islands nearby or anything and so what purpose does a lighthouse have in the middle of the ocean? But Jack isn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth and so proceeds to the lighthouse for safety. Within the confines of the lighthouse, Jack finds a bathysphere which takes him on his adventure through Rapture. I’m going to skip Rapture for today, even though it is a fantastic setting and has lots of lore surrounding it.
Today, I want to focus on the lighthouse. An odd thing to have in the middle of the ocean. So, I wanted to see how far away from land this lighthouse was. I was going to try and pinpoint the location using speculation and the process of elimination. But that’s not going to be needed. “When Mum and Dad put me on that plane to visit my cousins in England, they told me, ‘Son, you’re special, you were born to do great things.’ You know what? They were right.”. That is a quote on the Bioshock Wiki said by Jack. I personally don’t recall the visiting cousins part in England but I trust the Wiki. So, I was going to work backwards from that to see where he was coming from and where about he crashed. But………..the actual coordinates for the lighthouse have been published by the Bioshock team. There is no lighthouse there sadly. The coordinates are 63° 2′ N, 29° 55′ W, which brings us to here:
As you can see, it all adds up geographically. Jack was coming over from somewhere in America to visit his family in England. Along the way something went wrong and the plane careened off course and into the ocean below. The location of the lighthouse is between Greenland and Iceland. It’s still not close enough to land to serve a purpose to the residents of the islands. But, to get into it’s purpose is another topic all together and one that involves spoilers for the game. That’s why I’ll just leave the alone for now.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem released on the Gamecube in 2002. The game is a 3rd person, survival horror that features elder gods and controlling multiple characters throughout history. The game itself is more remembered for its sanity effects. As you control characters, you will be attacked by Eldritch horror-esque monsters. When your character encounters these monsters, they will have a dip in sanity. Their sanity can be regained by killing the enemy with a finishing move but sometimes this just isn’t an option without risk of death. There are also monsters that focus primarily on attacking your characters sanity. More than likely as you progress as this character their sanity meter will deplete quite a bit.
This leads to some scary, unnerving, goofy, confusing situations. Whilst, your character is losing their marbles you will hear them muttering to themselves things like ‘This can’t be happening’. And, when you transition to a room there is a chance of a sanity effect taking place. These can include:
- Your character shrinking to child size
- Their head suddenly exploding, followed by the limbs too
- Walking on the ceiling of the room
- Swarms upon swarms of monsters attacking you, making you hope that it is a sanity effect and not a steep spike in difficulty
- The character will attempt to reload their gun but will accidentally shoot themselves in the stomach, causing their death (not really but in the sanity effect)
- Bugs suddenly appearing on your TV screen and eventually covering it with creepy crawlies. This one got me the first time, I was sure there was fly’s on my TV
- Your inventory will be empty of ammo and health
- When you save your game a message will pop up saying ‘Would you like to delete your saved game?’, picking yes or no results in a message saying your game has been deleted
- Your screen will go black and you will hear the sounds of your character being attacked or eaten. Making you believe that the video output is faulty but the game is still playing
Other grim effects involve finding a man hanging from the ceiling or your character finding themselves in a bathtub of blood. There are loads more sanity effects too and it really helps to set the game apart from others. I would find myself purposely trying to lower my sanity just so I can see more freak out moments. A great horror game, just a shame the planned sequel never came to fruition. I’ll never forget the mini heart attack, thinking I just deleted my save data. Good times.
In Dead Space 1, our hero, Isaac Clark boards the Ishimura planet cracker spaceship in search of his wife. She was aboard the ship when a distress signal was sent out and Isaac saddles up his engineering suit and heads to her rescue. Upon arriving on the ship, Isaac sees that all is not right, as grotesque amalgamations of bodies called Necromorphs attack him. Throughout the game, Isaac sees his dear beloved who seems to be leading Isaac to something rather than leaping into his arms.
As the player reaches the back end of the game, they are met with a startling revelation. Spoilers inbound: Nicole was dead the entire time. Not only that but Isaac knew of this and was in denial the entire game. At the start of the game Isaac is seen playing a recorded message from his partner. She is clearly under duress and scared, as this is when the distress signal is being broadcast. Once the video message is over, Isaac arrives at the Ishimura and enters. At the end of the game, we are treated to that same video except it doesn’t cut off where it did previously. The footage then shows the poor Nicole using a needle on herself. She then closes her eyes and dies. It’s a grim scene and one that many wouldn’t have seen coming. Sure Nicole seemed off during the game but the realisation that this entire time, we have been playing as a character in denial and who has been risking his life for a truth that doesn’t exist. Her actions may have alluded to some strange goings on but there was a massive give away the developers put into the game to give us a clue. Dead Space is split up into 12 chapters. Each with a title of its own. Seeing these titles 1 as you’re playing the game, you would be hard pressed to see the clue in plain site. But string the chapter titles together and the puzzle is complete.
Chapter 1: New Arrivals
Chapter 2: Intensive Care
Chapter 3: Course Correction
Chapter 4: Obliteration Imminent
Chapter 5: Lethal Devotion
Chapter 6: Environmental Hazard
Chapter 7: Into the Void
Chapter 8: Search and Rescue
Chapter 9: Dead on Arrival
Chapter 10: End of Days
Chapter 11: Alternate Solutions
Chapter 12: Dead Space
Simply take the first letter of each title and Nicole’s fate is revealed. Nicole Is Dead. I personally love attention to details like this or subtle hints that developers input into their games. They don’t need to do this. I imagine most people who played Dead Space never even knew of this detail. I didn’t until a year or so after completing the game. It plays in with the lore of the Dead Space universe too. In the game there is The Marker which is this alien doodad that reanimates the dead and tends to make people in its vicinity go a bit mad. Isaac has a wide variety of hallucinations during the Dead Space series due to The Marker. This manipulation of the brain theme plays into the Nicole revelation. It’s as if Isaac’s subconscious is trying to convince him of Nicole’s fate. In the end he accepts the truth but only after a gruelling journey through the Ishimura. Maybe that’s what it takes to accept the death of a loved one to space monsters. Stomping a few hundred into the ground doesn’t hurt either.