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.