Welcome Back to the Citadel Station
This has been a good year for horror fans as we have seen the successful launch of several remakes of beloved classics. It started with the Dead Space remake followed by Resident Evil 4. Joining the club is the highly anticipated remake of System Shock. While the former have redefined horror in their own way, the latter has had an unquestionable influence for generations.
Back in 1994, the original System Shock pioneered many aspects that have defined video games. It gave us S.H.O.D.A.N., one of the most iconic video game villains. It has seen several spiritual successors like Deus Ex and BioShock that would go on to be respected series in their own right. At the same time, it influenced a generation of developers and storytellers.
Nightdive Studios has been working for a long time to properly honor this classic. They have successfully done that with their remake of System Shock.
Performing a Service
Set in the year 2072, a hacker is caught attempting to access the TriOptimum Corporation database. They are caught and taken to the Citadel Station for a meeting with Edward Diego, a TriOptimum executive. Diego offers to drop all charges against the hacker and give him a military-grade neural implant (including the medical procedure to install it). In exchange, they need to hack the network and disable the ethics protocol of S.H.O.D.A.N., the station’s artificial intelligence.
Following its success, the hacker undergoes surgery and is put into a six-month healing coma. Upon awakening, the hacker is welcomed into a nightmarish hellscape. S.H.O.D.A.N. has gone rogue and taken over the Citadel Station. Most of the crew has either been killed, mutated, or transformed into a cyborg. Making matters worse is that S.H.O.D.A.N. plans to attack Earth using the resources of the Citadel Station.
The hacker must navigate the Citadel Station, attempt to locate survivors, and find a way to stop S.H.O.D.A.N.
The original System Shock was ahead of its time when it came to storytelling. While narrative design and character building have evolved since then, its story still holds up today. The elements that are now dated don’t hurt the overall storytelling. Instead, it works to its advantage while building suspense with in the environment. Even the silent protagonist, a concept that has become dated, actually works to the remake’s advantage.
Directive to Cyborg F-71
At its core, System Shock is a first person cyberpunk themed horror survival. How one experiences the nightmare of the Citadel Station is up to the player. From the start, you could set the difficulty of the puzzles, the enemy, and the overall experience. Thus creating a nightmare unique to one’s own preference.
At face value, combat is a combination of shooting and using blunt weapons. The style of combat is dependent on the difficulty the player has set. In a more difficult environment, that horror survival really kicks in as you want to preserve ammo and apply some tactics when confronting the mutants and cyborgs. When set on easy, most of the survival elements will not be needed.
Regardless of the difficulty, survival is key. Players will need to gather resources that could help them. This includes parts, ammo, or junk that could be recycled. At the same time, you will need to familiarize yourself with the layout and try to explore every corner of the station.
Citadel Station itself is intriguing to explore with its many secrets and death traps. It’s a cyberpunk world that is both colorful and eerie at the same time. An accomplishment made possible by its strategic use of neon coloring along with the proper use of darkening certain environments along with the piles of mutilated corpse.
A Creation of My Children
At its core, this is a faithful recreation of the iconic game that has influenced a generation of developers. System Shock was a groundbreaking title but it was released back in 1994. The remake has overhauled all of its defining aspects while preserving what attracted so many players. It has been visually upgraded while the gameplay has been polished.
System Shock remake is a new game but it still has the feeling of the original. Absent are most gameplay elements that have become the norm. Such a concept might be seen as a shortcoming but it works to the remake’s advantage. This allows the game to preserve many of its defining elements for fans while a new generation could experience it as if it was 1994 all over again.
Pathetic Creature of Meat and Bone
The remake’s only shortcoming is its inadequate support for a console controller. Some prefer a mouse and keyboard while others (like myself) like to use a console controller. While you can play most of the game using the controller, there are some functions that can only be done with the mouse and keyboard. However, I do see this as a temporary problem as I do believe it will be resolved when the game comes to consoles.
A Perfect Immortal Machine
The original System Shock was a masterpiece that was ahead of its time while also having inspired the industry for years. The remake perfectly captures all of its defining elements in a modernized experience. Fans will once again work to survive the Citadel Station while a new generation gets to witness the terror of S.H.O.D.A.N.
System Shock is a remake that modernizes one of the most influential games while also preserving its defining aspects. It’s the same game that wowed players back in 1994 but with modern graphics and with gameplay that is more polished. This is a remake that perfectly captures and honors the legacy of one of the most important games.
Disclaimer: UberStrategist provided the game used for this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
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