Some games remain firmly ingrained in your memory for several years after you originally played them. For some, this could mean reminiscing on their first magical time on an Animal Crossing island — for others, it’s the sound of a witch crying in Left 4 Dead. For many people, though, this recollection takes the form of Dead Space 2’s “eye poke” scene — something even the game’s director recently admitted to having had a hard time watching.
Dead Space 1 and 2 are widely considered to be masterworks in horror games. The setups are so unique and genuinely terrifying that many believe them to be in a class of their own. The infamous eye poke scene, though, is a standout among standouts. The game’s protagonist, Isaac Clarke, steps into a surgical tube so that a needle can be driven through his pupil and into his brain to extract information. We all know that’s the most sensible way to do get knowledge out of your mind.
In an interview with Polygon, Dead Space 2 director Wright Bagwell talked about what it was like to design that scene and what it meant to him and the team. He said that he wasn’t directly involved with the writing, but that the writers were on a nursery rhyme kick, so they wanted to do something with the children’s pledge “cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.”
Bagwell ran with the idea and designed a minigame for the scene. He didn’t want to break the player’s immersion, so it had to be intuitive. In addition, he wanted it to give you the same sense of anxiety and dread that Isaac must have been feeling. You have to guide a needle toward Isaac’s pupil (while he’s squirming and moving his eye around) and slowly press it into his brain. Oh, and it doesn’t cut to a cutscene — the whole sequence plays right through to the end. When he playtested his idea, Bagwell found that he had done exactly what he wanted — but when the time to approve it for final submission came around, he had a hard time even watching it.
We’re just glad to hear that we aren’t the only ones who did.
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