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Everything we know about the System Shock remake

Head back onto Citadel Station when the System Shock remake from Nightdive Studios arrives this March.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember the impact that the original System Shock had after it launched back in 1994. With how far first-person shooter games have come since the beloved FPS from Looking Glass Studios shocked the industry. With the remake just around the corner, it looks like System Shock is set to make waves once again.

Developed by Nightdive Studios after they obtained the rights to the series, the remake modernizes many aspects of the game while delivering the same scares and atmosphere as the original. After a long and protracted development cycle, the remake is almost in our hands.

The System Shock remake is set to launch in March 2023 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC / Mac / Linux. Before you drop back onto Citadel Station and begin hacking again, here’s everything you need to know.

Reboot process initiatied

System Shock Station
Waking up on a deserted space station is anyone’s worst nightmare.

The System Shock series has roots in Looking Glass Studios’ Ultima games, adapting the dungeon-crawling elements of those games into a sci-fi setting. Though many members of the team later went on to work on the BioShock series (which System Shock is a spiritual successor to), the series that started it all laid dormant for many years after the 1999 sequel System Shock 2.

That is, until Nightdive came along. They’re famous for reclaiming licenses to older, abandoned PC titles and re-releasing them for modern systems. System Shock and System Shock 2 were both re-released after Nightdive acquired the series license in 2012. The former even received a remaster with System Shock: Enhanced Edition, which includes technical improvements to help the game run smoother on modern systems.

Nightdive later announced that they were working on a remake of System Shock on the Unity engine. With Fallout writer Chris Avellone on board to help retool the story, the team opened up a Kickstarter campaign to drive funds for the remake. Raising over $1.3 million USD, the crowdfunding campaign was successful and the game was given a temporarily release window of December 2017.

After numerous delays and a complete restart of development, it seems that March 2023 is our new launch period.

To be clear, this project has nothing to do with the seemingly-cancelled System Shock 3. That was being developed by Warren Spector’s OtherSide Entertainment and published by Tencent, who only had the rights to make sequels to the game. (Nightdive had no involvement.) While that project’s in limbo, Nightdive has been making this new System Shock experience as thrilling as it can be.

The system is down

See what SHODAN’s up to in this System Shock remake trailer.

First, let’s get you up to speed with the story of System Shock. You play as an unnamed hacker who attempts to break into the systems aboard Citadel Station. Unfortunately, they’re caught and given an ultimatum: unshackle the SHODAN AI onboard the station and receive a neurological implant, or be sentenced for their crimes. The hacker obliges and shuts off the AI’s ethical restraints, then undergoes a medical procedure that knocks them out for six months.

Unfortunately, the hacker awakes to find everything in disrepair. SHODAN has taken over, killing every human officer aboard the ship and turning them into monsters. Armed with only their wits and whatever scrap they can find around them, the hacker traverses the station to figure out what went wrong and stop SHODAN from destroying the Earth.

The plot of the remake is more or less beat-for-beat, with no major story changes to speak of. While Chris Avellone was brought on for story consultation, it was mostly to rewrite some dialogue and fix some plot points. It also should be said that Avellone left the project years before sexual misconduct allegations surrounding him came to light. Thus, the final product won’t contain much (if any) of his original work.

Hacking the gameplay with the System Shock remake

System Shock Environment
There’s lots of locations to explore aboard Citadel Station.

Most of the story changes are simply there to enhance the narrative. That’s true for the gameplay as well, with more quality-of-life upgrades and refinements to bring System Shock to the modern age.

The foundation of the gameplay is the same as it ever was. You navigate the Citadel Station, solving puzzles to proceed and finding logs to uncover more of the story. The station consists of winding hallways, densely packed with plenty of dead ends and secret rooms to explore.

Every so often, you’ll come across a puzzle that blocks off access to the station or activates a device. Basic puzzles involve little modules of the “follow the path” or “connect the wires” variety. But every so often you’ll be thrust into cyberspace to solve a six-degrees-of-motion maze where you need to fight off electronic threats and destroy parts of the station’s systems.

It’s a trippy place to explore for sure, and it’s also dangerous to walk around a station like this. Though you’re initially unarmed, you’ll quickly find weapons like a pipe for melee attacks and various firearms. They’ll help you gain the edge against your enemies aboard the station.

The pain has entered the station

System Shock Remake Enemies
Something’s not right with the crew…

Contrary to games that have followed in System Shock’s wake, shooting isn’t the primary focus of the System Shock remake. It’s best to think of it as a first-person adventure game with added shooting mechanics. There’s quite a number of enemies running around the Citadel Station, and while you’re equipped to deal with them, the combat isn’t really what the game’s all about.

Weapons feel adequately fast, though enemies can deal a lot of damage to you in a short amount of time. You can find health pick-ups in the world to survive longer, but a key element of System Shock is stealth and knowing exactly when to pick a fight. Not just because the combat system isn’t incredibly deep, but also because it’s easy to get in over your head.

What’s more important is finding and destroying all the security cameras hidden around the station. SHODAN’s set these up to spy on you; the more cameras you eliminate, the less of a grip she has. Once you find the exit, you won’t be able to leave until the area’s security level has been brought down.

When can I play the System Shock remake?

System Shock Remake Cyberspace
Even in the future, you’ve got to do your own debugging in the System Shock remake.

The System Shock remake is developed by Nightdive Studios and published by Prime Matter. It is under development for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC / Mac / Linux via Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG.com, and Humble Bundle.

While a release date hasn’t been announced yet, according to the Steam listing, it’s set to launch on May 30, 2023. Pre-orders are available on select PC game stores now, and you’ll receive a copy of the upcoming System Shock 2: Enhanced Edition if you pre-order. If you’re itching to give the remake a shot, you can play a demo right now on PC platforms.

What are your thoughts on the System Shock remake so far? Have you given the demo a shot? Let us know!

Daniel Hein

Daniel Hein is either A) a lifelong video game fanatic, writer, and storyteller just sharing his thoughts on things, or B) some kind of werewolf creature. We're not quite sure which yet. He also makes mediocre video game retrospectives (and other content!) on YouTube where you can watch him babble on for hours about nothing.
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