System Shock remake review: Classic PC comes back to life

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: You wake up in a futuristic medical capsule on an orbiting space station with some new network implant, only to realize that everyone else has died. . I can talk about biological shock or Dead space or even, if you squint, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But in this case, I’m talking about Systemic shock, has been remade by Nightdive Studios. This new version reveals the full amount of classic debt video games of 1994.

Before I dived into the world of video games as a critic and a journalist, I knew about Systemic shockbut i can’t play it. Originally developed by Look Glass Studiosit was a moderate hit at the time, but not as popular as it was at the time Death. Over time, its legacy has grown, clearly influencing the aforementioned games biological shock And Dead spacebut also dishonest, preyAnd death loop. It also popularized a number of storytelling techniques that are now tiresome, such as conventional storytelling through audio diaries.

I’ve always wanted to play Systemic shock, to keep track of video game history, but as an older, PC-only game, it was hard for me to get my hands on. Too long has passed since the game’s release to this day Systemic shock accessible, not only in the sense that I’m used to more modern games with better user interfaces and more intuitive controls, but also in the sense that it’s not available for purchase anywhere. For a large part of my youth, Systemic shock, an obsolete game originally released on floppy disk, distributed by fans through downloads of dubious legitimacy. When I first searched for the game, I heard that it had a huge influence on quite a few every game instead, I see people on forums telling other readers to go straight to Systemic shock 2.

Players use a large wrench as they approach a robot in the System Shock remake

Image: Nightdive Studios/Prime Matter

Now you can play the original Systemic shock, also thanks to Nightdive. The studio purchased the game rights in 2012 and re-released it as Upgraded version in 2015. And you can go and play this remake now and enjoy it for a lot of fun, even if they’re not quite the same after 29. The then revolutionary physics engine, originally programmed by Seamus Blackley for Unlimited flights, could not leave the impression on players in 2023 as in 1994; We’ve all seen too much physics get in the way of Blackley’s work in the meantime. If you don’t think you can play a game from 1994, well Systemic shock Pretty unique remake. Sometimes it even does something special and unique: It makes you really understand the passage of time.

The Systemic shock redo is beautiful. It’s not a completely reimagined game like Final Fantasy 7 remake, nor completely abandon the aesthetic and artistic style of the original like the remake Shadow of the Colossus. But it seems like the way games from 1994 appear in my memory. Smoke spewed out from the vents and melted into pixels. Lighting is often dramatic, your screen filled with a deep red with bright blue sparks emanating from the lighting fixtures. In your hand, a heavy lead pipe hangs in front of you, swaying just before your field of vision, sometimes slightly pixelated in the light. You’re slow – oh so slow – down narrow corridors with flickering lights, stuck in metal maintenance corridors as you try to make your way through the map. It’s a dungeon crawler dressed as a shooter.

famous, Systemic shock is the story of a Hacker who is caught breaking into TriOptimum Corporation. You’re taken to its orbiting space station, known as the Citadel, and given a job: join the consortium and receive a fancy neural implant in exchange for getting rid of ethical protocols. of their AI, SHODAN. SHODAN, it turns out, really needs those ethical procedures, and when you wake up from the surgery, she’s killed everyone in the station and turned them into mutants and cyborgs.

Players fire a purple laser beam at an approaching robot in the System Shock remake

Image: Nightdive Studios/Prime Matter

If you’re a fan of video games, then you’ve come across SHODAN before, in some form or another. If you have played Portal, you have interacted with a very close relative of hers. The character archetype that SHODAN would create, about an immoral female AI with a harsh, tangled voice, has now become a cliché. GLaDOS is just SHODAN with a sense of humor and a sense of personal hostility towards players. IN Systemic shock, SHODAN’s hatred is cold and pure, the same way you hate insects when they enter your house; they are below you, and are not allowed here. As you progress through the levels, she promises that she will tie you to a torture chair and that “you will learn more about pain than you ever wanted to know”.

The presence of SHODAN still feels fresh, somehow – or maybe, everything old becomes new again. What makes it hard to believe is the way the remake’s flourishes stand out Systemic shockits lineage much more. When you charge your electric weapon in the charging station, electricity dances on your finger, and I remember how biological shock down from this game. When Systemic shock based on the horror element, pushing you into a dark room with a groaning monster, I remember why I haven’t played Dead space; Systemic shock My speed is scarier, but I can see how this person becomes next. Playing the game in this form gets me in conversation with the entire genre of role-playing simulation, a loose collection of games that offer players open-ended gameplay. You can see the road from the Citadel all the way to the Dunwall coast in dishonest; How Look Glass, and now Nightdive, provides the Citadel to you not only as a space station but as a puzzle, a map for you to explore with little or no instructions on how to progress onion. Seeing this done expertly on a smaller scale makes me think of a kind of open world that was only recently possible technologically: Skyrim, Breath of the Wild, Elen’s ring.

A vestibule-style room on the System Shock remake of the space station, complete with marbled granite columns and art deco

Image: Nightdive Studios/Prime Matter

What really excites me when I play Systemic shock is how small it holds my hand. You can — and probably will — eat shit the first time you try to walk through the medical ward. You can get into dilemmas — this is a game that requires your attention, which doesn’t always dictate the next thing to do. It also rewards your curiosity as well as your prudence. I often find my way through floors by accident, by deciding to turn down corridors I’ve never gone down before. There’s always a discovery — a new weapon, a vending machine, or a shortcut — or at least a useful lesson waiting. It’s easy to understand why people play this game and then become obsessed with it, why you can follow some people’s careers through the game. Ken Levine, who worked at Look Glass when it was created Systemic shockdefinitely never stop trying to make Systemic shockfinally for BioShock: Infinite an ending suggests that there are thousands upon thousands of variations on the theme.

Systemic shock will be released on May 30th on Windows PCs. The game has been evaluated using a pre-release download code provided by Prime Matter. Vox Media has an affiliate partnership. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find Additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy can be found here.

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