Following its launch on PC last year, the System Shock remake from Nightdive Studios has now brought its eerie sci-fi adventure over to consoles. What better way to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the original game’s release than by blessing your console with SHODAN’s presence, right?

Check out some screenshots down below:

System Shock puts players onboard the Citadel Space Station, which just so happens to have been taken over by a rogue AI named SHODAN – she has also turned all of the inhabitants into cybernetic monsters, so there’s that to deal with too. Worse still, SHODAN has set the Citadel’s course for Earth, with the goal of taking over the planet and bringing all of humanity under her command. It’s up to you to stop her by exploring the Citadel, solving some puzzles, and, of course, beating up any vicious baddies that try to stop you. Its sci-fi theming is eerie and sinister throughout, and with SHODAN an unpredictable foe that throws plenty of surprises the player’s way, it’s hard not to find yourself fully invested in your plight to bring her down.

Given that System Shock is a remake of a thirty-year-old title, you can go in expecting some old-school design, which is apparent when exploring the Citadel. Believe me, you’re DEFINITELY going to get lost and have moments where you’re completely clueless as to what you need to do next, but that was also the case with the original game. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little bit frustrated when I was completely stumped, but at the same time, it was incredibly satisfying when I finally found what I was looking for and was able to make that bit of progress. The Citadel is almost maze-like in design, but the longer you play, the more you get used to its layout and the more you’ll start to figure out what the game expects of you when uncovering it.

There’s plenty of puzzling to be done along the way too, some of which will demand you to carefully scour your surroundings for clues and others which are more conventional in design. Again, these are very old-school, with players tasked with the likes of re-arranging tubes to complete junction boxes or gathering codes to open doors. System Shock doesn’t really do a lot to innovate in its puzzle design, but with each proving satisfying to solve, it didn’t need to either.

“Its sci-fi theming is eerie and sinister throughout, and with SHODAN an unpredictable foe that throws plenty of surprises the player’s way, it’s hard not to find yourself fully invested in your plight to bring her down.”

There are also instances where you’ll venture into cyberspace in order to progress through the game, which plays out like an old-school flying first-person shooter of the 90s. Your main objective in these sections is to destroy crystals that open up pathways in the real world, but there’ll always be plenty of enemies and hazards to try and stop you along the way. They made for some of my favourite sections of the game, with the fast-paced frantic action offering a satisfying change of pace when compared to the more methodical exploration of Citadel. Admittedly, it can feel a little TOO frantic at times, especially with the swift movement and the vibrancy of all of the colours on display, but they’re still a ton of fun to play through.

On the other hand, combat outside of cyberspace is just… alright. Again, System Shocks leans into the old-school approach of the original release, but it just makes everything feel a bit dated and ordinary when compared to modern titles. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll get a cool variety of weapons and the enemies you face off against look wonderful (in that grotesque cybernetic monster kind of way), but the shootouts never packed much punch and got a bit repetitive the longer I played. If there was a bit more strategy involved (such as taking cover or trying to lure enemies into traps) it might have been a bit more interesting, but for the most part, it just felt a bit too simple and dated – especially since similar titles such as Bioshock or Prey have offered much more innovation in their enemy encounters.

One area in which System Shock undoubtedly delivers is with its visuals, which I thought looked absolutely brilliant throughout. It manages to embrace the aesthetic of the original game whilst giving it a modern lick of paint, with plenty of detail found in the environmental design and cool visual effects and lighting bringing it all to life. Don’t get me wrong, you’d have probably played prettier modern shooters, but the way that Nightdive Studios have captured the vibe and style of the game’s original release is simply perfect. Add to that some excellent sound design and it’ll be easy to see that System Shock hits a really high standard when it comes to its presentation.

Check out some screenshots down below:

I have to give kudos to the developers for introducing a difficulty system that players can really finetune to suit them too. You can alter things like the puzzle, cyberspace, combat, and mission difficulties individually to get the System Shock experience that you want, which can help alleviate some of the earlier flaws I listed depending on the difficulty setting that you play on. Just be warned: you can’t change it mid-game, so you have to choose carefully when you begin, which does feel like a bit of an oversight.

In some ways, System Shock has been a tricky game to review – it’s a remake that hasn’t tried to innovate or bring all of its systems up to a modern standard, but instead tried to replicate that which came before it. And believe me, it succeeds. It just makes the game feel a bit dated in places, especially when it comes to the tricky exploration aspects or the simpler approach to combat. It’s something System Shock fans are sure to love, and I myself had a blast getting to experience the battle against SHODAN all over again with a fancier modern styling. On the other hand, those completely new to the game might just find the experience a bit ordinary and tedious, and left to wonder what the fuss was about in the first place. Whilst I certainly enjoyed my time with the game, it definitely won’t be for everyone.

System Shock Review

System Shock is an impressive remake of an all-time classic, but there’s no doubting that its old-school design won’t be for everyone. There were plenty of occasions where I found myself completely stumped when exploring the Citadel, and whilst it did make each success all the more satisfying, it could also be frustrating not knowing what to do. Combat could be a bit ordinary too, with it feeling a little dated when compared to similar titles.

Despite this, I still had a good time with the game. I loved seeing the story progress, uncovering more of the gorgeous world, and tackling the cyberspace sections, with it clear that Nightdive Studios put a lot of effort and care into making a remake that feels authentic and that captures the vibe of the original game. It could just feel a bit TOO old-school at times, especially since other recent remakes have done a lot more to lean into modern innovations to refine the experience for newer players.

Developer: Nightdive Studios
Publisher: Prime Matter
Platform(s): Xbox Series X (Reviewed), Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC