The remake to the original System Shock has seen its fair share of delays, but the end is finally in sight. After getting my hands on the remake for System Shock, though, I can say these delays were well worth it.
Upon starting my System Shock remake hands-on demo, I was immediately captured by the stunning visuals. Though the original is an old game -- one that hasn't aged gracefully, too -- the visuals are remade from the ground-up. This is no remaster, but a true remake.
I get a wide, sweeping view of the city and soak in the cyberpunk visuals with neon signs lighting up the air brilliantly. In later parts of the demo, lighting is used exceptionally well to add a spooky and mysterious ambiance. Closeups of various items and objects show there's a high definition pixel sheen. The floor of a convention such as PAX West is never not busy, but even in such a hectic environment, I felt immersed by the audio and visuals.
After the introductory shots, I get thrust into the role of System Shock's protagonist, where I can explore their apartment and interact with various items and objects. System Shock is an immersive sim, after all, and this remake is no different. Heck, even the bathroom in the apartment had an operating toilet, which is more detail than you'd see in most games.
After a series of events I'm put onto a derelict spaceship filled with zombie-like enemies and killer robots. System Shock is not a forgiving game, and you'll have to come prepared, so searching around the room for objects to use as protection and more is vital. There are some small and inobtrusive tutorials that give players hints on how to interact with the environment and proceed forth in this ship, which helps alleviate my concern that this remake will be as much of a conundrum as the original. After some searching, I filled up my inventory with some valuable resources like grenades and a pipe to use as a melee weapon.
Again, the original System Shock is very dated, but this remake is extremely accessible. I picked up the controls right away and was able to whack away at zombies, loot corpses, and manage my inventory. The UI is very legible and I never felt confused while playing it. Audio logs with essential information are always accessible and found easily in System Shock's menu.
Another dated and notoriously dense component to the original System Shock's gameplay was entering the cyberspace. When you do this in System Shock, you take control of this sort of "drone" and blast attackers. There's a full 360 degrees range of motion, which might intimidate some, but grasping the controls should be simple for most. As this is the cyberspace, it's filled with bright shades of blue and green, and the environment is very polygonal. The original version of the cyberspace was much more dense and a nightmare visually, but that is not the case here.
As with many convention demos, my time with System Shock was brief. The attention to detail in recreating the original's visuals in an old-but-new style make it an eye-popping and immersive experience. Nightdive's efforts in making System Shock far easier to control is another impressive feat. As one of the first immersive sims ever made, there's never been an easier way to play this classic.
TechRaptor's System Shock remake preview was conducted on PC via a demo at Pax West 2022.