Two Minutes Of System Shock Remake Footage

System Shock remake footage

When Alice last dunked the RPS scifi horror-o-meter into Night Dive Studio’s System Shock remake, the readings came back with some early screens of the reinterpreted Citadel Station. The stills were a wonderful combination of old versus new, as developers Night Dive have been consulting with the original System Shock team, including concept artist Robb Waters.

There’s now some footage on the loose which looks even lovelier. Pop below to see for yourself.

Cards on the table: I love System Shock. Like Adam, I’ve probably got a stronger connection with its sequel by way of timing, however I thoroughly enjoyed returning to Night Dive’s Enhanced Edition last year.

The reason I mention this is because the following trailer begins by telling us it’s pre-alpha footage, that it’s subject to change and that nothing is final. As a writer, I’m probably supposed to go with an open mind, but also be able to point out the bits that look a wee bit rough around the edges at this stage. I’m probably supposed to then offer you an objective critique. I’m probably not supposed to be as excited about it as I am regardless. Which is why you should have a gander and come to your own conclusions:

And here’s Night Dive’s description:

“After 20 years, we are remastering and re-imagining the original System Shock. We will keep the new game true to the classic experience, keeping all the things you loved, while updating the user interface and graphics to use a modern day engine (Unity).”

Still no release date just yet, however I do recommend giving the Enhanced Edition a spin in the meantime. But then you knew I’d say that.

And of course System Shock 3 is definitely happening now, with Warren Spector on board, no less. What a time to be alive/stranded on a space station.

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    TBH I find original System Shock + mouselook mod to be perfectly playable and hold up fine (I first played it in 2013) and people who say other wise are OBJECTIVELY WRONG (/s) but I’m still excited for this remake.

    • try2bcool69 says:

      “Objectively wrong” is starting to get enough momentum to be this year’s “literally”.

      • dr.denton says:

        Certainly there are lots of methods to determine if a game is playable or not ? Whether someone likes it is a different issue.

        Like MacOS – some people swear by it. I swear at it. Though objectively, it’s a very good OS.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          There is a world of difference between “perfectly playable” (opinion) and “technically playable” (objective fact).

          • dr.denton says:

            You’re right, of course. I was thinking more like determining factors like the time it takes to trigger a certain functions, the amount of mouse movement, clicking etc. required. “Flow”, for lack of a better world.

            And here SS (with mouselook mod) seems fine to me – at least as far as the core gameplay (movement, looking, shooting, clicking) is concerned.
            The UI on the other hand is objectively lacking, by today’s standards.

  2. RedViv says:

    I really adore their keeping up the aesthetic like this, from the displays to the buttons to the monsters.
    Lookit the silly lanky mutant! Who’s a good boy!? Who’s a good boy?!

    • carewolf says:

      Yes, it looks faithfull. I still wonder though, if they are going to keep the virtual reality hacking in. That was weird, klunky and retrofuturistic even when the game was first released.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Agreed, that was my very first, instant impression. They actually managed to translate the original’s visuals to modern tech without mangling them beyond recognition. That I instantly recognized basically every area in that video was such a pleasant surprise.
      Hopes are high for this.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s not bad, but honestly I think they need to make it lighter. Those are areas where the lights are still on (heck, they look up at the ceiling and show all the tubes glowing away); you want to save the gloom for the later levels (engineering D: ) for constrast.

      And, y’know, just generally the idea that the station would have been fitted with lighting that actually lit rooms/corridors.

  3. Mechorpheus says:

    This looks pretty bloody amazing, although that’s probably mostly due to rampant nostalgia on my part. Love the hell out of this game back in the day, really looking forward to this.

    Hopefully they don’t forget to salt the fries!

  4. Mr_Blastman says:

    Wow. Amazing job on retaining atmosphere and level 1 layout. I hope they port over the Roland SC-55 music or at least keep the structure and composition the same. System Shock is still fun to play with the mouselook mod and even better on a real CRT (or fantastic CRT emulator).

  5. Premium User Badge

    caff says:

    Blimey that looks really rather good.

  6. slerbal says:

    I think Night Dive are doing things really well. Not only did they re-release System Shock 1 and 2 so that those who loved the originals can still play them, but this remake is looking really appealing to me as I could never get into the first System Shock (I found it too late). If you prefer the original you still have it, and for new players it is a nice new entry. It all gives me confidence for System Shock 3’s potential.

    I replayed System Shock 2 last year and enjoyed it just as much as ever. Consider me excited!

  7. Spuzzell says:

    Whoever from their team added the ‘1’ in “System Shock 1” in the video url needs to be put back in charge of just getting the coffees.

    • Optimaximal says:

      I guess that’s probably there to make it less likely to appear amongst a load of System Shock 2 and BioShock videos?

  8. cunningmunki says:

    I recently played several hours of the ‘Enhanced’ edition, but had to give up. I enjoyed it immensely, but found myself constantly having to refer to online walkthroughs has I often found myself with no idea as to what to do next. This is no fault of the game, just the way game design has changed over the years (I have the same problem with many ‘old’ games). I guess I’m too used to being spoon-fed my objectives!

    I’m really looking forward to this.

    • Mr_Blastman says:

      System Shock is easy to follow if you pay attention to the clues–it does guide you where to go next and does a great job at it. The difference is you need to… pay attention. I prefer it IMMENSELY to most modern games.

      • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        I played it through for the first time late last year (after one abortive attempt a year or two before that). Found it really helpful to keep notes on paper as to what I was doing, clues I’d picked up, things like that. I ended up with one page per level (hard to read, but if you squint to make it out there might be some spoilers).

        What with my notes as to what I was doing, and leaving notes on the map as to important things I found, it was eminently playable. The technology wasn’t a problem—but the terrible level design was (too many mazes!), and it looks like they’re keeping that aspect.

        I don’t really think it needs a remake, but good luck to them.

    • Cinek says:

      To be fair – more than often it is a fault of the games. Only back then everyone were expected to read the manual before playing the game and remembering most of it, or at least: playing with the manual open on a desk (you know – back in a day we used to get a printed booklets along with the games), and obviously: spend more time experimenting with all the possible options.

      That’s something I’m worried a bit in a re-make like this. When having such a high def graphics it might be awfully difficult to find some of the buttons that in the original game were sticking out like a sore thumb, and people more then often just hit the right button through simply running around and clicking anything that looked remotely interesting.

      • Replikant says:

        True enough. Back then I spent happy hours drawing my own maps of Dungeon Master. I probably couldn’t be bothered to do that nowadays, I definitely didn’t turn off automap in Legend of Grimrock, seems I’ve been spoiled.

        • Mr_Blastman says:

          Hardcore mode in Grimrock is the only way to play… without graph paper… without maps, by just using your head, Eye of the Beholder style.

    • Muzman says:

      It was still pretty hard back then. I knew quite a few people who got stuck.
      But this is where gaming is somewhat at odds with itself and probably will be forever. Probably my most indelible gaming experience is limping to almost certain doom, running out of everything and feeling completely hopeless in System Shock. I had to back myself into a (relatively) safe corner of Deck 3 and comb through every email and log looking for clues that I might have missed so that I could progress. This one invisible mutant kept coming in the room and leaving again. I was listening to the dying words of people, cradling my last couple of magnum rounds in the dark, hoping it wouldn’t notice me for what seemed like forever.

      You cannot recreate that experience with ‘flow’ and modern “accessible” game design philosophies – with the waypoints on the map or even just heavily guided level design, the dialogue handing out pertinent information clearly to the player instead of being ‘in-world’ etc etc. It’s impossible. But at the same time do they want to make something where many people might just quit? Probably not. It’s a tough one.

  9. The Algerian says:

    Missed out on both games.

    This remake looks incredibly cool, I’m glad I finally get to play this in decent conditions. I think it’s probably going to sell very well, and hopefully that should get them to remake the second game as well.

    • USER47 says:

      SS2 doesn’t really need a remake. SS1 is hard to get into nowadays, but SS2 is perfectly playable game with standard WSAD + mouse controls. Some of the models are a bit outdated but overall it feels like a normal modern game…

      It doesn’t even look that bad, especially if you mod it a bit.
      link to

      • The Algerian says:

        Doesn’t look too bad on that screenshot. Though I suspect the initial effect that it would’ve had on anybody who played it back when it was released might not be the same on someone who would play it today for the first time.

        Not to mention, if you plan on playing it after playing the remake, it might feel like it just falls short.

        • USER47 says:

          I guess even new player should be able to get into it easily. Problem with old games isn’t usualy the fidelity of graphics itself, as you can get used to almost anything quite quickly, it’s more often the wonkiness of controls, interface, resolution/aspect ratio fiddling etc.

          You can play System Shock 2 in HD widescreen resolution with no problems, using WSAD plus mouselook like in any other modern FPS. Then you can switch to mouse controlled grid inventory/PDA interface, which is actually even easier to use than many modern console interfaces.

          It’s just quite a normal modern game in these aspects, so it’s easier to just get used to lowpoly character models and poor animations. Keep in mind SS2 is not THAT old, it came out year later than Half-Life for instance.

          • The Algerian says:

            I wouldn’t say the problem with older games only resides in the controls.

            The graphics actually play a big part in the suspension of disbelief process. This is especially true for 3D games and FPS games.

            Now that we’re used to more detailed environnements, a plain cubic, all-flat empty room can’t really feel quite right.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            “It doesn’t even look that bad, especially if you mod it a bit.”
            Sounds like a perfect candidate for porting to a more modern engine. Higher poly count models and higher res skins.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            I don’t find I have any difficulty suspending my disbelief in games like SS1, or anything Looking Glass, really. Terra Nova and Ultima Underworld being other good examples.

            With system shock, especially system shock 2, the audio plays a very large part in that, but yeah. I am opposed to the opinion that dated graphics are a serious obstacle to immersion, no matter how prevailing it might be.
            (Doesn’t mean I’m right, of course…)

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Sure, dated graphics aren’t an *obstacle* but, neither are updated graphics. If you can have the same game, but looking prettier, wouldn’t it be nicer?

            I’m not one that obsesses over the pretties, but I don’t reject them either.

          • GepardenK says:

            Technical fidelity does not matter outside of the fact that you need to give your brain an hour or two to get used to interpret gfx that are below your preferred standard. I’d argue that a game like Thief: The Dark Project will, even to someone who is new to the game today, be a more visually pleasing experience than the majority of the games released today as (long as the person playing is willing to give it a fair shot). And Thief:DTP was considered dated even when it released.

            Updating gfx is fine of course, but you run a serious risk of aesthetics being “lost in translation”. Just look at a piece of impressive concept art and then compare that to the resulting scene in a game or movie

      • derbefrier says:

        As someone who only tried SS2 for the first time about a year ago and Uninstalled it pretty quicly, it plays nothing like any modern game. Without nostalgia driving you it did not hold up well at all in my opinion. The control were wierd and clunky. Combat was terrible and the graphics are really really bad in some areas. That probably sounds harsher than I meant but add all those little things up and I didn’t enjoy my time with the game at all.

        • GepardenK says:

          SS2 has Deus Ex/Vamprie:Bloodlines syndrome. Meaning early-game gameplay feels clunky and weird. This was a issue even at release. Once you level up your character somewhat it will feel much much smoother, I bet if you stayed with it a bit longer you would have agreed

  10. libdab says:

    Looks good, but I’d love to hear a few of the spine chilling, pleading cries of “Kill me!” from SS2. They really freaked me out when I first heard them. :-)

  11. Kefren says:

    Yes, yes, and a spoonful more yes.
    I’ve completed SS1 a few times, and love it. But this looks like a fantastic way to get the story again but with a new feel.
    I once fantasised about being rich enough to buy the rights to SS1 and 2, and release them both (back then they weren’t for sale again), and maybe do them plus SS3 in an updated engine. Most of that wish is now coming true without me having to do anything but buy a game!

  12. Napalm Sushi says:

    I love how the architectural simplicity mandated by the original game’s tech actually works as an aesthetic. There’s something really oppressive about all that… squareness.

    • RedViv says:

      It would not be a good remake if they did not stick to the early 90s 3D imitating an early 80s b-movie Aliens-ripoff kind of look, walls that look real but are probably made of plywood and putty and all.

  13. PancakeWizard says:

    I said this in the Tacoma thread, but I suspect this will throw the cat amongst the pigeons in the walking simulator genre.

  14. Replikant says:

    I am officially hyped. It is absolutely my most favourite game ever (OK, so is Deus Ex, Morrowind, Mount&Blade:Warband and few others, but still!). The visuals are an instant flashback.

  15. SanguineAngel says:

    That video looks exactly like the game translated to in my head when I played it. I am really impressed by the way they have handled that.

    Often, when a game gets updated graphically, it loses that vital essence that made it stand out.

  16. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    This looks gorgeous.

  17. Shazbut says:

    Looks wonderful.

    Oh God I have waited so long…

  18. kud13 says:

    Ooh, looks superb.

    The gameplay needs to change only TWO things

    1) make the laser rapier on lvl 4 easier (more obvious) to find. The shadow-things killed the game for me so many times.

    2) make sure the endgame is winnable.

    • Replikant says:

      Ye, an e-mail or audio-log on that and its position would be really helpful for new players.
      You mean the final boss battle? Agreed. Maybe I am doing something wrong, but all cyber-space battles are just wild LMB-clicking for me.

    • Dare_Wreck says:

      3) Change it from making you double-click to check corpses and pick everything up. Good lord – my hand was cramping up very quickly when trying to play this game recently. Granted, I suppose that design decision was probably originally due to how you had to click to move around however, right? I’ve only played the Enhanced Edition.

  19. vorador says:

    Well, i say if they wanted to keep the original atmosphere while updating the game for modern standards, they’ve nailed it for now.

    And SHODAN still gives me the jeebies.

  20. Artiforg says:

    I hope the head-bob is going to be optional as it has always made me nauseous so I’ll avoid buying/playing it.

  21. Mi-24 says:


  22. Jay Load says:

    Yes, even this salty old space-dog, a HUGE fan of the first two games, thinks that looks bloody amazing. If you need beta testers, Night Dive, I’d be pleased to offer you my first-born in payment?

  23. Geebs says:

    They could stand to tone down the bloom lighting by about 200% – there’s a definite Doom3-graphics-enhancement-mod feel about it as it is.

    I’m not sure I like the visual balance either. They’re trying to keep the simple level geometry but pretty-up the walls with lots of small-scale, non-significant detail. Even though I didn’t like the game much, Alien Isolation did a much better job of maintaining a consistent level of geometric complexity across scales. This sort of thing ends up looking even more like a videogame level than the original did.

  24. Kaeoschassis says:

    Just had a thought – are they planning on re-using the existing voice assets? Because yknow, those were all surprisingly brilliant, and I almost feel like it’d be a shame to change them. A lot of the sound stuff – especially the enemies who all had like two sounds each – could use improving, unlike SS2, but the voice work was really very good.

    • Premium User Badge

      caff says:

      I’d be interested to know too. In fact I want RPS to do a bit of a feature/interview thingy with Nightdive as it does look surprisingly good.

    • Dare_Wreck says:

      I actually just started playing System Shock for the first time this past weekend, and I think you’d be surprised by how bad the voice acting sounds today. It was probably decent at the time compared to the typical voice acting done in games back then, but it really does sound like Looking Glass used random people around their office (i.e., non-trained actors) to fill in the voices.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        As someone who replayed it about halfway through last year, and who did not play it on release and therefore has no real nostalgia for it, I’d be very surprised indeed to learn that the voice acting holds up badly, because I rather loved it. Not amazing stuff, perhaps, but I feel like they did really well with what they had (random people from around the office mainly) and that it makes for a pretty well-told experience. I feel if they were to change it there’d be more chance of it being worse, rather than better.

        • Dare_Wreck says:

          It struck me as fairly bad. The voice acting should have sounded like the characters were terrified of what was going on around them, and yet their line deliveries were very matter-of-fact, as if it was a day like any other on the station. Perhaps “voice direction” would be a better term for what was bad? Perhaps the actors weren’t properly directed in their line readings.

      • Muzman says:

        Mostly that’s what they did. It is a bit rough and ready but I find it works pretty well. Most games, even with pros doing the acting, are filled with grandiose haminess these days. No one can write a line nor direct one in gaming so it’s all over the place.
        System Shock has a sort of raw quality that’s a bit like an independent mumblecore type film. You put together a certain non-actorly consistency with the right kind of un-showy dialogue and it can create a kind of realism you don’t see/hear all that often.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Exactly this. It felt fairly believable to me. And no, they weren’t screaming and gibbering, but there was a TENSION there that worked fine.
          I hesitate to bring up Homeworld here since I recognize its voice acting is in a whole different league, but it IS a good example of how you can have good voicework without going ‘over the top hammy’.

        • Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

          I agree. I’ve been playing SS1 for the first time the last few days, and the voice acting stood out to me as being surprisingly good. It has the feel of typical office workers not being willing to believe what’s happening around them and instead try to focus on their work and routine to block out the signs of doom until it’s too late and they end up dead/recycled. For me, it makes it much more believable and actually created an odd disconnect with the visuals, which are so obviously 90s-gamey.

        • KenTWOu says:

          Wow. I’ve seen lots of mumblecore/gore movies and loved some of them very much, but for some reason this connection didn’t occur to me. Now it feels so obvious, I’m amazed I didn’t notice that myself.

  25. Morcane says:

    Shut up and take my money.

  26. Raoul Duke says:

    Could someone please do this for Deus Ex 1 ASAP?

    (Yes, I am aware of the texture project, but I’m talking about this kind of wholesale rebuilding of the whole game).

    • Premium User Badge

      caff says:

      Agreed with this, but maybe it’s too soon.

      Whilst Square Enix have the license, they’ll continue to churn out shiny gold coloured maps with lots of desks acting as cover systems. Grrr.

  27. Premium User Badge

    JiminyJickers says:

    I want it now!!!!

  28. roothorick says:

    I’m honestly rather concerned.

    SS1’s level design was arguably its weakest point. Every level was an unsatisfying, arcane labyrinth that the game actively fought against in trying to direct the player. I see the wisdom in keeping some pieces of the medical deck intact, but they need to redo the layout of Citadel itself.

    It otherwise looks great, but recognizing the precise layout of every environment they showed is worrying.

  29. Lintire says:

    Looks fine.

    Played System Shock 1 like 6 months ago. Mouselook trivializes the game, hope they change the enemies to compensate, but otherwise it’s hard to fuck up a remake of SS1.

    It’s overall a rather simple game, compared to SS2’s aRPG fuckery.

  30. Bweahns says:

    I only ever played System Shock 2 and it is easily one of my top three favourite games of all time. The atmosphere was amazing and the sound design was superb; every enemy had the most creepy and unsettling banter. That’s the Tri-Optimum way. My babies need fresh meat. Your song is not ours…

  31. aircool says:

    Oooohhh.. memories :)

    I think I had a 486SX at the time so it was a bit jerky.

  32. tonicer says:

    A couple of years ago Logan from teksyndicate showed of his modded system shock 2 and how to do it.

    Since then my version looks and plays just perfect.

    Here’s a link: link to

  33. Josh W says:

    That looks pretty good, although seeing a ringed planet out the window is odd, I thought citadel station was in earth orbit?