System Shock

released on May 30, 2023

A remake of System Shock

After 22 years, cyberpunk cult classic System Shock is getting an update. A "reimagined" version of the 1994 Windows PC game is in the works at Night Dive Studios for PC and Xbox One, and it's a project that company founder Stephen Kick says he can hardly believe is really happening.

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This does a good job of capturing some of the more exciting retro feel to the original (the lack of handholding, have to figure out what to do based on more subtle context than modern game design would use) while modernizing the UI and not making it feel dated. However, the systems and environment are a little simple compared to modern immersive sims. Still great art and solid.

Having never played the original, this is a great way to experience its strong suits - exploring the station without handholding, relying on the player to make connections and understand how to proceed. Combat is greatly enhanced by juggling different ammo types and other resources (though in the end there's probably too much ammo around), and every new weapon feels like a great addition to your arsenal. Biggest issues are some excessive backtracking on certain station levels (a strategically placed door locked from one side could have saved a lot of wasted time on the executive level) and managing the recycling of junk items is tedious and ultimately pointless - just scrap everything, and you'll have more money than you can spend.

I played System Shock Enhanced back in 2018 when I was trying to learn of gaming before my BIRTH, and it was a fantastic game that I really enjoyed my time with. For me, this System Shock remake is a pretty decent Modern Adaptation of the title that people will enjoy that tries its best to stick to the original, but in the process of the modernization, loses a bit of the quirk of the original.
When it comes to the story and visuals, all good with me. Takes the original and runs with the story as if nothing really changed, keeping to the spirit and letting me enjoy it for the time I played all over again, the artistic direction is also a very cool approach, really trying to modernize it without losing the feel of the original, but it does go a little overboard with the colors and lights, making the maze-like structure of the game even more confusing in some aspects, even as a player who'd played before.
I think the game really misses in the gameplay department. In the pursuit to make it accessible for new players, it loses a bit of the Jank that made the original so fun. It's similar to learning a game like Dwarf Fortress, you kinda gotta figure it out and make it work (the controls in this context). However, I understand that this modernization is doing something different so I'll get off my high horse. I do think the combat feels quite weak in this iteration as it feels very lose and unsatisfying, despite being operational.
Overall it's a good breath of fresh air to get newer players to experience the game today with a fresh coat of paint, but it can't quite live up to the Enhanced Edition I played.

Was pretty committed to beating this until I hit the executive level and I started thinking about other video games I'd rather be playing. My own personal SHODAN, Larry Davis, sometimes mentions to me how a game he doesn't like drops in half-star increments the more he plays, and I think that about sums up how I started to feel about System Shock (2023). The difference here is that I have enough games to play right now and I'd rather not push ahead with this just to be like "yo, did you hear Nightdive made a 2.5/5 System Shock??"
Citadel Station is the same arduous maze it always was and it's still obtuse to navigate. It's massive, oppressive, and actively hostile towards your existence. Every step of the way you're fighting SHODAN, you are literally within her plucking out her eyes and shooting at the cells she sends after you like a body would attack a virus. But familiar as it is, it doesn't really add anything. The Enhanced Edition already solves a lot of System Shock's cumbersome controls, it lets you break apart its UI and chuck its superfluous elements into the trash, or you can play it the way LookingGlass intended: via a system of pulleys and levers. However, while the Enhanced Edition gives you modernized controls as an option, the remake is built with them from the ground up. You could play it with a controller if you want, like a monster.
This results in a much smoother experience, one that's accompanied by some great art direction, an excellent soundtrack, and combat that has much more ommph thanks to nearly 30 years of technological leaps in animation and graphics. It also feels completely unnecessary, and hours into getting horrifically lost and accidentally firing a mining laser at Earth again, I started to feel like my second run through the station was dragging. At its worst, removing too much of System Shock's chunkiness becomes detrimental to its charm, but perhaps that's the purist in me pining for whatever the hell this is.
Some aspects, like VR, feel actively worse than before, and I encountered a staggering amount of collision issues that sent me falling through floors and elevators. Occasional errors with the game mis-flagging my location left me spawning in regeneration booths on totally different floors, and I encountered one crash that required running through a few excruciating combat encounters in the Grove for a second time. Your mileage and PC build may vary, but I found the remake to be pretty flimsy.
It's still System Shock, which is good, but I found the remake to be a bit too buggy and conceptually boring despite the shiny new coat Nightdive has given it. I feel like you'd get more out of this if you never played the original or the Enhanced Edition, and if you have then you may find Nightdive's take to be a bit watered down. It doesn't even have the cool Hackerman intro... or rather it does, just expanded upon and rendered more dull for it, and I think from the jump that's a good way of telling you exactly what you'll get from this particular version of System Shock. Shelving this thing because I'm starting to understand how people feel about the Demon's Souls Remake and this is not good for my soul.

i hope all the companies making ai play this so they how sick the future they're building is. i have rocket boots and a robot baddie is always talking to me.
what else could i ever want?