System Shock Remake preview – a promising and terrifying remake

System Shock Remake

The original System Shock is one of the most influential science fiction horror games to date, as titles like Prey, Deus Ex and Dead Space all take a bit from its building blocks.

Despite being so influential, the original games were extremely obtuse, and they aged like milk. As such, they are due for a revamp and Nightdive Studios provided it with a System Shock Remake.

Getting into the original System Shock felt like trying to understand an alien operational system, which is probably what the developers were going for, but it made for a frustrating experience.

I am one of the people who really wanted to enjoy System Shock, but the controls and UI were too obtuse for my tastes, which made me give up on it.

The game does have an Enhanced Edition available on Steam, but it didn’t do much for me. Roughly around 2015, a remake for the game was announced, initially being developed in the Unity engine.

I was quite happy to find out that the game was being remade, especially since it looked stunning when compared to the original. You can watch me get my ass kicked below:

The game went through quite a few iterations before arriving on its current state, even getting delayed and switching development from Unity to Unreal Engine.

Usually mid-development engine switches can doom a project, but Nightdive’s commitment to the project really shows through the current demo I played.

The studio outdid themselves when it comes to the game’s visuals, as adapting the bizarre aesthetic of original game must have been really difficult.

The remake’s visuals stay true to the original game by blending modern lighting and high-quality models with low-res objects and environments, which give it a surreal look.

The lighting on the game is done spectacularly and really enhances the atmosphere, it works especially well with how cramped and maze-like the game’s map is.

Fans of the original game can rest easy, as well, as the map doesn’t seem to have been altered. It’s made very clear that the intent is to modernize the game on a 1:1 ratio with the original.

The game’s puzzles remain the right amount of cryptic without being frustrating, and despite not being outright explained to the player it doesn’t take too long to figure them out.

The game is also pretty difficult, the combat has been modernized a bit but the enemies still hit very hard, and Shodan doesn’t play fair either.

The remake’s audio design is fantastic, and my first encounter with Shodan really caught me off-guard.

The different pitches in which the rogue AI speaks accompanied by the glitching effects are really disorienting and scary, but it’s the remake’s sound design that really sells it.

The development for the game seemed to be a bit rocky, with Nightdive Studios realizing halfway through their process of modernizing the game they were making something else completely.

Thankfully, the studio realized their mistake quickly and got back on track with the project, and the demo is proof that they managed to course correct really well.

Anyone who accompanied the remake’s trajectory on Kickstarter may remember that it looked awful at points, sometimes barely looking like System Shock, so it’s nice to see it fully realized like this.

If the final product is anything like this demo then we really don’t have anything to worry about, Nightdive Studios knocked it out of the park thus far.

It’s safe to say that System Shock was remade without any compromises, the game is still absolutely terrifying and difficult, but now easier to get into.

The System Shock Remake is set to finally launch sometime in March 2023 across Windows PC (via SteamGOG, and the Epic Games Store), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

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Fan of skeletons, plays too many video games, MMO addict, soul-like and character action enthusiast.

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