- "This time there will be no escape for you, my friend. You have been most resourceful up until now, but my creation is free, reborn in the fierce heat of life itself! Now it's time to play your part..."
- —Challus Mercer
The Hunter is a Necromorph, biologically engineered by Doctor Challus Mercer on board the USG Ishimura. It was created by inserting a piece of necrotic tissue, obtained from the flesh-like growths covering some sections of the Ishimura directly into the cranium of a live, unknown crew member.[note 1]
The Hunter physically resembles a Slasher, possessing large blades that are attached to a pair of elongated arms jutting out from its shoulderblades. It is noticeably bulkier and taller than the standard Slasher, and its original arms appear bound inside the flesh of its torso similar to a straightjacket. Unlike other forms of Necromorphs, it is able to regenerate lost limbs in seconds, meaning that conventional dismemberment tactics only serve to temporarily incapacitate it. The Hunter's voice can be compared to a deep throaty roar, as opposed to the Slasher's usual form of screaming and shouting.
The Hunter first appears during Chapter 5: Lethal Devotion. Challus Mercer keeps the creature stored in a stasis tube in the Chem Lab on the Medical Deck, just outside the Cryogenics Storage Room. When Isaac enters the lab to mix the poisonous compound, Dr. Mercer awakens the creature in an attempt to kill Isaac. Isaac eventually escapes after learning of the creature's regenerative abilities. The creature stalks Isaac throughout the chapter, as he attempts to complete his objectives. Isaac finally faces it down in the Cryogenic Lab, where he manages to freeze the creature inside a cryogenic tube, supposedly taking care of the problem once and for all.
However, as the game progresses, it is hinted that the creature has been thawed and is once again stalking Isaac, as Isaac hears the creature several times and even sees it once whilst in the main elevator in Chapter 7[note 2]. In Chapter 8, shortly before the first store, the Hunter can be heard growling and sharpening its claws.
The Hunter reappears in Chapter 10, just after Isaac collects the third navigation card. Immediately after grabbing the card, Dr. Mercer contacts the player and reveals that he has thawed the creature. Right after this transmission, the Hunter bursts out of a ceiling vent and attacks, forcing Isaac to retreat.
Towards the end of the chapter, when Isaac goes to test fire the engines of the shuttle in the Executive Shuttle Hangar Bay, the Hunter once again reveals itself and attempts to kill him. To defeat it, Isaac lures it towards the back of the shuttle, stalls the Hunter via either Stasis or dismemberment, and test fires the engines again, completely incinerating it. Afterwards you can find a Power Node where it died.
- Use your environment to your advantage.
- Look for ways to stop or, at the very least, slow the Hunter. If there are points where the Hunter could get caught up on (low ceilings, doors with Node locks, barricades), use them! If there are throwable objects you can use to dismember limbs (Blades of Slashers, sawblades, etc.) or to stun it (exploding canisters, heavy objects, etc.), then use those, too. For example, in Chapter 10, after you collect the third navigation card, lure the Hunter to the room with the movable bunk beds. You can create a barricade to simply protect yourself. But note, there are a series of ceiling vents that the hunter will use if blocked, so plan your movement.
- Dismember, then Stasis.
- Cut off the limbs of the creature, most effectively done with a Line Gun or Ripper, and then put it under stasis once its limbs start to regenerate. This will buy you a lot of time to attempt to leave the room.
- Do what the situation requires.
- If you can exit the room immediately, do so. In some situations, you will be locked in the room with the creature until Kendra unlocks the door. That's the only time you should confront the creature.
- At the end of Chapter 5, when you confront the Hunter in the Cryogenics room, lure it to the end of the room with the stasis recharge. Make it follow you into the middle section, then take out its legs and / or stasis it, and run into the small room at the other end, which will be unlocked. Make sure the Hunter is in the middle section, then use the holographic panel to freeze it. Likewise, near the end of Chapter 10, the Hunter must be lured to the back of the shuttle and then put into stasis and/or dismembered. There, you should activate the engines to incinerate it for good.
- Do not waste your ammo.
- The Hunter does regenerate, but under serious pressure you may not think about that. Use your ammo efficiently by removing its arms to avoid its heavily damaging attacks; slice off its legs to knock it onto the ground and slow it down. An alternate solution to dismemberment is by using the Force Gun or the Contact Beam's secondary fire, which can knock down and briefly stun the creature. This tactic also gives you time to escape.
- The Hunter is relatively slow.
- Knocking out its legs to slow it further is a great tactic. Save your stasis ability for after you've taken down a few of its limbs. Slowing down its regeneration process is much more effective than to make it plod towards you at a slower rate.
- Use Your Stasis.
- Keep a Stasis Pack or two handy when in chapters encountering the Hunter. Also, make sure that you upgrade your Stasis Module so that you have more shots AND that the shots have a longer effect. A quick way to escape is to take off most limbs (i.e. leg + arm) while it enters its regeneration stage. Freeze it and run! This is also useful in situations when it needs to be in a certain place. If you're using the Stasis Energy Refill cheat (x,y,y,x,y/square,triangle,triangle,square,triangle)you don't have to buy any Stasis packs.
- Avoid, Avoid, Avoid.
- When other enemies are near while confronting the Hunter, it's a relatively good idea to eradicate them instead of focusing on the major threat. This tactic is especially useful when there are Twitchers around, as the Twitchers can kill you quickly if you choose to ignore them. Keep moving, take out a limb or two, and freeze it, then attack the remaining enemies and repeat if necessary. This strategy is wonderful for those of you who "collect" items.
- Lace up your running shoes!
- If all else fails, you can conserve ammunition and health by simply avoiding the confrontation (most of the time) when things just seem too dark to handle! Remember, this is a "survival-horror" title.
- Selective Dismemberment
- If you're low on Stasis energy and Kinesis isn't effective enough, you can slow it down by blowing off its legs (or one leg to save ammo). Don't forget to watch out for its support.
- Snub it
- While it is the "boss" of the level, the Hunter's primary threat is being a bullet sponge. If there is enough room, ignore it, kill any other Necromorphs and outrun it until you're in a position to defeat it.
- There is a glitch in Chapter 10 in the room where you have to wait for Kendra to open the door. If you see the Hunter coming through the door into that room, if you shoot it with the Force Gun and the door closes, the Hunter will be unable to enter the room. It will still reappear later in the Chapter.
- It is unclear how Mercer manages to avoid being killed by his own creation while he guides it through the ship - although the same could be said of how Mercer seems to evade all the other Necromorphs on the Ishimura.
- The Hunter and the Slasher have identical animations when standing and crawling.
- The Hunter's severed arms, like those of the Slasher, can be used as weapons when launched with Kinesis.
- The Hunter appears at the end of the Dismemberment Demo for Dead Space, appearing much earlier than it does in the full game. The Hunter only appears to kill Isaac and end the demo, its appearance triggering an unavoidable cutscene.
- In the Dead Space Dismemberment Demo, if Isaac has the Pulse Rifle equipped, then during the cutscene when the Hunter is supposed to kill Isaac, if the player has their gun drawn, they can stop the Hunter from killing Isaac. However, even though Isaac will reload when he needs to, he will stay in place, no matter what you do, and when your gun is out of ammo, you can't switch, and you'll be stuck like that until the Hunter kills you.
- The Hunter's regenerative abilities are likely a homage to "The Thing".
- It is possible that the Hunter is Brant Harris, as Dr. Mercer had expressed interest in studying him to learn more about the Necromorphs.
- The Hunter can actually be seen in Chapter 7, very briefly, when going down the elevator from the second floor to the final, if you look in C deck as the elevator passes it, you will see the Hunter sharpening its blades.
- In Chapter 5, when you're in the Freezer Room after you freeze the Hunter, if you walk to the right Control Room door, you can see other Necromorphs frozen in ice.
- At the start of Chapter 8, when going down a hallway, the Hunter can be heard growling and sharpening its blades.
- It is unclear where the Hunter gets the biomass to regenerate with - the amount of energy and matter that it would take to regrow lost limbs would be enormous.
- The Ubermorph - a Necromorph similar to the Hunter - makes an appearance near the finale of Dead Space 2 after the "eye poke" machine. Its appearance has drastically altered, forgoing the appearance of rotten, decaying flesh to something more refined like H.R Giger's Aliens. Despite this, it moves just the same, and will regenerate its limbs after they are severed. Unlike its Dead Space counterpart, the Ubermorph cannot be killed without the use of a glitch, and must be outrun until the end of the game. In Dead Space 3, creatures similar to the Hunter called Regenerators are encountered aboard the CMS Terra Nova, created from the bodies of members of the Deep Dig Team on Tau Volantis. While Regenerators resemble the Hunter more than the Ubermorph, how they came to be is presently unknown.
- In Dead Space 2, when you enter the USG Ishimura, the tube the Hunter was in and the tube next to it is empty; most likely due to the cleanup operation.
- While you're in the room with The Hunter in Chapter 10, if you block yourself with the beds you can see The Hunter waiting and roaring indefinitely.
- During Dead Space: Martyr, Micheal Altman suffers a nightmare where a Necromorph approaches him, looking like a "man with his skin flayed", which he dismembers with a Ripper. However, the Necromorph suddenly regenerates its arms and legs and gets back up. This suggests that the Necromorph in question is the Hunter, or something like it.
- The Hunter's blades look very much like scythes.
- The Hunter's eyes let out a faint green glow; the reason for this is unknown.
- If the player cuts one (or both) of the Hunter's blades, it will proceed to autotomize and regenerate the whole arm rather than just the lost portion.
- Sometimes the Hunter will become stuck in an infinite loop, circling one area for no reason until the player intervenes.
- The Hunter has a special attack that will be signaled by it rearing its blades back. If Isaac is hit by this attack, the Hunter will sink both of his blades through his torso, lift him up, then violently stab him two times. The Hunter then slices off his legs and left arm, and lowers Isaac. Isaac struggles to hold up his right arm, almost as if pleading to the Hunter. It then cuts his head off and finally slices him in half. The Hunter will perform this move if Isaac's health reads yellow or lower.
- If Isaac is slashed with the Hunter's blade while he has moderately low health, whatever part of him is hit will be torn off as he dies.
- ↑ It is possible that the Hunter was originally the unwilling crewman heard in this log.
- ↑ Brief glimpse of the Hunter's silhouette can be caught as the cargo elevator descends past the closed gates to the mining sub-deck for the first time.
- ↑ Kyle Winkelman's Game Model