System Shock Review — A Shock To The System!

System Shock Review

It’s been a staggering 30 years since System Shock had its initial release on PC, and now, we see a remake by Nightdive Studios directly aimed at revitalising the game for a more ‘modern’ audience appealing to younger gamers. Gamers who finally get to experience the grandfather of the immersive sim genre. System Shock is a pioneer of this genre influencing games such as Prey as well as the iconic spiritual successor BioShock and its many sequels.

With the recent state of gaming flooded by a steady stream of rereleases, remasters, and remakes, does System Shock live up to its legacy as a gaming icon, or should this game be kept deep in the history books?

System Shock tells the story of a hacker working for the Tri Optimum Corporation in the year 2072. You’re tasked with investigating the Citadel spaceship and eliminating the rogue AI named SHODAN from wreaking havoc deep in space. A simple premise with an exceptionally strong narrative that keeps you enthralled during its 25+ hour journey.

This exceptional story is presented through many well-voiced audiobooks, numerous notes, detailed emails, and the confined environments of the Citadel. All these components culminate in a riveting story of megalomaniac proportions. As with most story-heavy games, the less I say, the better. SHODAN is the biggest highlight of the game.

System Shock Review

Gameplay has been given modern treatment in an attempt to appeal to gamers who haven’t played the original and, most importantly, the younger gamers who want to experience what the big deal is with System Shock. If you’ve played Bioshock, you’ll feel things are quite familiar, albeit with a very retro feel. Obviously they share a very common connection between both games as developers and studios were involved in these titles throughout the years.

While the story and ambience are the bread and butter of immersive sims, combat and puzzles play a big part in this game. It caught me completely off guard how much shooting and combat there is in this game, specifically how hard the game is. Even while playing the game in normal the enemies hit hard and are scarily accurate. Luckily, there are many respawn points peppered through the levels, but they didn’t they have to go this hard with their enemies! Upgrades and tonics are available to help you adjust strategies to your encounters because you definitely will need them.

System Shock Review

Breaking these heated moments are a few puzzles integrated within the game that are important to access doors and progression. There are three unique types. Most of them are quite simple. However, there is one more involving puzzle where you enter a matrix-type level. The game shifts more into a space shooter within a retro Tron-inspired 3-D space, akin to the old-school game Wing Commander. These can be tough, so beware.

At its core, the game rewards those who are a little bit more patient with their video games. It has a great deal of respect for players who are willing to take their time exploring the corridors of the Citadel, those willing to be knee-deep in detail. This game is not only difficult with its combat. It’s difficult due to the lack of guidance it provides. It allows you, the player, to figure it out yourself. Find the clues, unravel the mysteries and battle your enemies while you push forward towards its very difficult conclusion.

READ: Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review — Tarnished But Whole

With an old-school reputation, System Shock does its best to update to its new-age sensibilities even when it feels a little pre-historic at times. This rings especially true to its ugly UI and archaic inventory management. Graphically speaking, the remake does its best to look and play with vibrancy, creepy ambience and at a smooth 60fps. Keeping some of its old texturing the remake does well in integrating its old style and cleaning it up for its new audience. With a crisper and newer look, this is the best way to experience the game. Although some would prefer the older title, that’s totally ok. But it has been 30 years, and sometimes a simple facelift will do the trick.  

My journey and feelings with the game changed quite a bit throughout my playtime. There were a few instances where I thought it was too difficult and didn’t quite understand or like what I was playing. But then the story kept me going. I surrendered to its old style and the way it was meant to be played as the developers intended. It all started to make sense. There was a happy medium of appreciation and enjoyment as I was drawn back to the game.

Unfortunately, there were a few jarring moments that ruined the overall experience. Even though they were small in numbers, there were a few game-breaking bugs. It was significant enough that they broke the immersion. The great amount of backtracking also wore thin after a few hours, as everything felt quite samey. Corridors looked visually different, but the levels themselves felt boxy and somewhat predictable. Throw in some scarily strong enemies, and the wave of frustration emerged. This push and pull to gameplay was in full force as I played through the game.

Even with all that said, System Shock is still one of the better remakes to come out in the past few years and it’s fantastic to finally have this title available for everyone. Looking past my gripes with the game, I continue to strongly recommend that you pick this up. It’s not every day we get remakes of older games that are over 30 years old and lauded as iconic. As a huge proponent of game preservation, we need to support great remakes like this, ensuring that the history of gaming is available digitally and in physical format.

System Shock Review

System shock is an adventure that you’ll be hard-pressed to forget. It contains one of the most menacing villains in videogame history, leading an exceptional story. Its influences on the genre and many titles that have come after are ever-present as you explore its dystopian cyberpunk world. It’s extremely well-made, you can sense the passion and love that went into this title. Yet, for better or worse, it remains exceptionally true to the core of its 90s-style gameplay. It may not be for everyone, but I still highly recommend you play this game.



Nightdive Studios’ System Shock remake revitalises the 30-year-old game with modern upgrades alongside design choices that give a hefty sense of retro, 90s-style gameplay. While some of these design choices could have been left in the history books, the game respects the OG title in this great remake.


  • One of the best Villains in gaming history

  • A very strong story

  • Very cool fusion of new and old school art design

  • It’s available on physical media

  • Respects and rewards  players in figuring it out for themselves


  • Old-school difficulty can be unforgiving

  • Terrible UI and inventory management

  • Sometimes not that fun

  • Puzzles are a bit samey and sometimes very frustrating

Share this article
Shareable URL
Prev Post

The NextPlay Podcast – Episode 10 Is Now Live

Next Post

Everything You Need To Know About The Concord Beta Weekends

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read next