So, if I talk to you about System Shock, it’s not about the game released almost 30 years ago, but about the remake that has just been released on PC (and soon on home consoles). The original game was extremely innovative, a real UFO mixing FPS/adventure/exploration/puzzles in an ultra-immersive way (initiating the ‘immersive sim’ genre with Ultima Underworld). But today, it’s quite dated; the austere controls and appearance are quite off-putting. It’s improved with the System Shock: Enhanced Edition version, but it’s still showing its age. That’s where this remake comes in: Is it modern enough for today’s gaming standards?
The question arises because, following a successful crowdfunding campaign, there were some twists in the direction of the project. Nightdive Studios initially embarked on a complete reboot before changing its mind because it deviated too much from the base game. In the end, they decided to stay as faithful as possible to the 1994 game but with modern graphics, sound, and gameplay adapted to the gaming habits of 2023.
While there have been slight modifications to the levels, almost nothing has been altered in terms of the scenario and its structure. And this is where the game truly feels ‘old-fashioned’ in the best sense of the word: no tutorial, no glaring objective markers to follow, it’s up to you to find clues, listen to audio logs to understand what to do, remember codes found here and there, and analyze your surroundings. It can be a bit confusing, but it adds to the immersion. You are literally lost in this abandoned space station.
And it still works just as well. SHODAN, the artificial intelligence losing its temper, is better embodied than ever. The Citadel station and its different floors? At first, everything looks the same, but eventually, you’ll know it like the back of your hand. The various mini-games? Refreshing. The atmosphere? Amazing. I find the graphic style great; it’s modern and realistic while retaining a retro charm. 😃 There are some nice additions, including resurrection and flexibility, freight elevators to free up your inventory a bit, and more.
So, no, I don’t believe the game is “too” retro. It’s a matter of concept: there is nothing and no one to hold your hand; it’s up to you to manage. Adding quests or sub-objectives would contradict this core principle. That being said, a word on the difficulty: like the original, you can customize your game based on several criteria, such as puzzle difficulty and enemy challenge. Personally, I left everything at the default setting (level 2), but unless you’re exceptionally skilled at FPS games, I recommend lowering the enemy difficulty. 😅 Ammunition is scarce, and while the monsters are easy to kill at first, it becomes a different story later on!
In conclusion, it’s indeed a demanding game, but it’s fair play. The controls are fluid, and you have all the tools you need at your fingertips, as long as you look closely. 😊 You have to analyze the available elements, retrace your steps, try things out; you’re often rewarded when you dig deep. Clearly, it’s not a game for everyone (did I mention that the atmosphere is incredibly creepy?), but I believe it succeeds, and there are some excellent ideas that I’m delighted to have finally discovered, 30 years after everyone else.
I recommend it to all fans of the genre; for me, it’s a solid 🤖🤖🤖🤖/5!