The bench is the mech­a­nism through which Dead Space of­fers up weapon cus­tomi­sa­tion (and did so be­fore the idea spi­ralled into tire­some com­plex­ity). There are choices to be made here, in the un­fold­ing en­gi­neer’s work­shop, with up­grade paths for each of Clarke’s weapons to make them more dam­ag­ing, quicker to reload, quicker to fire, or packed with more am­mu­ni­tion. The cru­cial thing is that the lim­its of the sys­tem are wellde­fined, so th­ese choices are mean­ing­ful – and thus they un­der­mine the con­ven­tional shooter pro­gres­sion from gun to ever-more-pow­er­ful gun. Here it’s pos­si­ble to stick with Clarke’s first and sim­plest tool, the Plasma Cut­ter, and trans­form it into a po­tent in­stru­ment of dis­sec­tion. It’s an­other ex­am­ple of Dead Space’s the­matic unity that this take on weaponry is de­liv­ered through the medium of a work­bench.

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