System Shock is a highly influential game. So much so that, thanks to a successful Kickstarter, the original is receiving a modern remake from the ground up. While I never played the 1994 original myself, the time I did have with the upcoming remake gave me a sense of what it was like thanks to its haunting sci-fi atmosphere and breathtaking environments. Even if the moment to moment gameplay isn’t as engaging as I would like it to be.
For those like me who are new to System Shock, the first-person sci-fi action-adventure sees you exploring a space base known as Citadel Station. You play as a hacker in the near future who makes a deal with a company called Tri0ptimum to receive a neural implant after releasing the ethical restraints of the station’s artificial intelligence S.H.O.D.A.N. After waking up from a coma due to the operation, you learn that the station is a husk of what it once was as Shodan has taken total control.
System Shock: Enhanced Edition Screenshots
My demo started from the beginning, on the medical floor of the station. While System Shock is categorized as a first-person action-adventure game, it plays much more like a survival game by modern standards – comparable to Resident Evil. Whether it be ammunition for my pistol or med patches to keep me comfortable, items that have an actual purpose are far and few between. I rummaged through several objects that I could technically pick up, but didn’t serve any real purpose. This tended to be frustrating as I could not learn if it had any utility until after I obtained it and browsed through my inventory. In turn, this made searching for items feel more like a chore and a time-waster than rewarding me for my curiosity.
Many of the rooms I went through felt purposely tight and claustrophobic, with the lack of lighting and occasional corpses of station members bringing an ominous horror vibe. I found a couple of puzzles to unlock new areas that involved finding a missing door code or rerouting power lines. However, this did not stop me from experiencing some beautiful visual moments, like looking out a window to see Saturn, making me forget about the dangers that surround me, even if for only a second.
Robots on the ship are controlled by Shodan, of course, including scorpion bots that have a flamethrower for a tail. I also ran into what seemed to be mutated humanoids wandering the station. Learning what these creatures are – as well as what happened during the six months I was asleep and how Citadel Station came to be this way – is one of the main reasons I’m initially so glued into this world and story. It is obvious that Shodan has a connection but the “how” is a fascinating mystery.
Even though there will be controller support when System Shock eventually launches, the HUD and controls feel meant to be played on keyboard as the original did as well. Switching items are dedicated to the numbers on the keyboard, and so playing with a controller did not offer an easy solution to that. I’m curious as to how everything will be adapted to controller play with the finished product.
With the short time I had with System Shock Remake, I could see that Citadel Station feels like a character unto itself, and I’m looking forward to taking a deep dive into and learning the mysteries that lurk within. Whether you’re a fan who’s eager to revisit this classic or you’re someone completely new to it, I suggest you keep this anticipated remake on your radar and prepare to visit Citadel Station in March next year.