Nightdive Studios have recreated the 1994 classic System Shock in a more modern FPS setting. The overall plot remains the same, with the player stuck on a space station where an insane AI, named Shodan, has taken over and wants to destroy humanity. The player must explore the station, fight enemies, and obtain logs, emails, or voice messages to learn what happened and avert disaster. The game’s design, however, remains the same as the original, with obtuse objective signposting and minimal guidance, making it a complex and layered game.
The game follows the original so precisely that players can remember original game door codes from memory, and much of the text and dialogue is word-for-word what went before. While this level of accuracy might sound impressive, it means that the 30-year-old design jank of obtuse objective signposting and minimal guidance remains.
When playing the game, players do not receive any objectives in a recognizable way. Instead, they must piece together the wealth of emails, notes, and audio diaries they encounter to progress. It can be a real galaxy brain moment when players find the information they need, but they can also become lost for hours if they miss a critical note or detail.
The game is packed with sub-objectives and detours as players search for key cards, additional information, gear, and more. The map is similarly unhelpful, with no labeling beyond things like north, south, delta, gamma, and that sort of thing, so getting from point A to B can be a task in itself.
The combat still feels quite old-school, despite modern controls, with no real nuance to the gunplay. Players shoot from behind a corner, often taking damage in the process. Against tougher enemies, players can feel the lack of finesse as they furiously backpedal, firing wildly, or use the AI’s occasional reluctance to go through doors to gain an advantage.
The Game’s Graphics and Controls
Nightdive Studios has updated the graphics and controls to present-day standards, with a nice chunky neon sci-fi FPS refit replacing the 1990s style flat sprite fake 3D and terrible controls. However, the game’s design remains the same, with no modern concessions like objective tracking or a more clearly labeled map.
The game’s combat, visuals, and controls feel quite old-school, despite modern upgrades. While the game’s retro sci-fi feel of the space station has a great vibe, the almost child’s toy chunkiness of enemies does not land well.
System Shock 2023 is a mixed bag of a remastered classic. While Nightdive Studios has done an impressive job of updating the game’s graphics and controls, the game’s design remains the same as the original, with the same obtuse objective signposting and minimal guidance. The combat still feels old-school, and the lack of modern concessions like objective tracking or a more clearly labeled map can make the game feel frustrating and confusing at times.
Overall, the game feels more like a Remaster+ than a remake. Players who enjoyed the original game will appreciate the updated graphics and controls, but those who have not played the original may struggle with the complex and layered gameplay. Players who want a fairer representation of the original game’s intention and ideas may prefer Nightdive’s Enhanced Edition of the original over this new interpretation.