System Shock Remake Kickstarter Is Live, Has A Demo

We’ve talked about it a lot recently, but the reboot of System Shock [official site] is coming — and it’s going to need a bit of help through Kickstarter in order to make it. Developers Night Dive Studios are looking for a tidy $900,000 (about £675,000) in order to make their complete remake of System Shock a (hopefully) terrifying reality, and there’s even a nifty little demo you can play to help you make up your mind.

First and foremost, go download the demo from Steam or GOG before you do anything else. This remake of System Shock is doing more than just updating the look and feel, but will also keep “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).” The project has also enlisted Chris Avellone of Fallout 2, Knights of the Old Republic 2, and other great RPG fame to help bring System Shock back to life.

This reboot also promises “re-imagined enemies, weapons, and locations by original concept artist Robb Waters” in addition to Terri Brosius, the original voice of SHODAN, reclaiming her role with all new VO being recorded. Oh, and a brand new musical score. The user interface is also getting touched up along with enemies and puzzles “to reflect modern aesthetics and sensibilities while maintaining the feel of the original.”

In asking for goal Night Dive Studios is also casting a spotlight on some of the changes we can expect from this reboot. Some of the more interesting stretch goals include Night Dive promising to add “new crew members and record new audio logs to be discovered in never before seen areas of Citadel Station” at $1.3 million. For $100,000 more, there’s updates to the core design including vending machines, crafting and upgrading, and a true RPG leveling system. Higher stretch goals include a full orchestral score, additional scenario and death mechanics, and a remix of the original soundtrack provided as an extra for those above the $30 tier. Finally, there seems to be even higher goals reaching up into the $2-plus million range that are hidden. SECRETS!

You’re going to need $30 to earn a digital copy of the game through Steam, GOG, or the Humble store. Higher tiers start reasonable, like physical deluxe versions of the game to being able to have your corpse found in-game with your own personalized data log. Oh, and if you want to party with the developers that’ll run you a cool $10 grand. No biggie.

If you’re unable to download the demo right now, you can watch System Shock in action thanks to Polygon:

Originally announced back in November, System Shock Remastered is now simply called System Shock. Night Dive Studios CEO Stephen Kick told Polygon that they “felt that the amount of passion and resources that we are putting into this game elevated it beyond the expectations that someone would have for a remaster. This is a full-fledged reboot of a classic game into something new.”

This reboot of System Shock also comes in addition to System Shock 3, currently being developed by Otherside Entertainment. That project has Warren Spector (yay!) and Looking Glass co-founder Paul Neurath behind it, making it perhaps even more exciting than the System Shock Kickstarter itself? You decide.

Anyway, back to the Kickstarter, despite how exciting this is, I do feel the need to be the grump in the room and remind everyone that Kickstarting is dangerous for your wallet and is no way a guarantee that said game will be good or even come out. But whether you decide to heed my gentle warning is up to you. Either way, I can’t help but feel a tinge excited. Okay, more than just a tinge. Very. I’m very excited.


  1. LionsPhil says:

    Replacing the soundtrack? HERESY.

  2. spiche says:

    Chris Avellone, from the amazing Fallout 2 and the atrocious NES’ Total Recall

  3. Procrastination Giant says:

    I for one believe that the headline for this article should have been “Look at you, backer…”. But alas…

  4. Wisq says:

    They do have the legal rights they need to do this, right? Otherwise it might be a pretty short run.

    • USER47 says:

      Yeah, they do. They somehow managed to find who actually owned the rights for the series, they bought them and they have been doing things with them for a while. They started selling SS2 again, enhanced edition of SS, doing this SS remake plus planning to do a proper System Shock 3.

    • Suits says:

      They’re the studio that is pretty much known for putting a lot of effort in acquiring rights to games that were unavailable for purchase forever and releasing them.

    • Procrastination Giant says:

      Yeah, Nightdive Studios basically own the System Shock IP these days. They’ve published and maintained the enhanced version of the first one and the re-release of system shock 2 on GoG and Steam as well, not to mention lots and lots of other classic titles that previously were only available as abandonware.

  5. technoir says:

    I know it’s usually financially impossible, but more crowdfunding campaigns should offer a playable demo.

    I’m not so sure about remakes that seek to “improve” the original game by adding new mechanics and changing the art from what it used to be. To me it seems like a symptom of this weird engineering mindset many devs and gamers have where games are seen as a kind of machines that can be made objectively better with more complexity and modernized graphics, instead of works made by artists who had a certain idea in mind and made every detail in that work to serve that purpose.

    I’m not really saying the original System Shock is like that (personally I’ve always felt the series is fairly overrated despite how ahead of its time the first game was) but something about the general idea of videogame remakes just somehow bugs me.

    • April March says:

      I want to say that if someone can’t offer a demo they shouldn’t be crowdfunding at that moment at all; but I know there is a big difference between being able to build a demo and being at a development stage where building a demo and releasing it to the public at large is a good way to use one’s resources.

  6. klops says:

    “I write the code on the wall with blood!”

    They have the name, but they show little of interest. Nostalgy isn’t a very convincing thing for me to buy a game, although they tried that very hard with the trailer. I appreciated the demo but was there anything that would encourage me to buy the game.

    Hopefully it’ll be a good game, but the 90s’ toys and a boring demo didn’t convince me yet.

    • klops says:

      Uhh, should’ve read the description better and listened the huomorous persons more in the trailer instead of charging in to see the demo material of the upcoming SS3. It’s the remake so most people most likely know what to expect gameplay wise…

      I’ll get me coat.

  7. Joe The Wizard says:

    Backed. Night Dive great work and this has promise. Besides, if I want to go back to the OG version, I can just play my copy on GOG.

  8. LionsPhil says:

    Hmm. Performance is all over the shop, but then I guess early days. Hope the fix the mouse control too, because there’s something deeply weird with it. Accelleration, smoothing (although that’s set to zero), dunno, but it’s both unresponsive and imprecise. Combat feels worse than the original, in particular the timing of wrench attacks vs enemy attacks is all over the place.

    Turns out you can still use autobeds; you just have to hit the button on the side.

    In refusing to use foreknowledge, it took me far too long to realize the door code was just painted next to the keypad in blood. Could have sworn it was in an e-mail somewhere or something.

    The Sparq beam visual effect kinda beefy for such a weak weapon. Maybe if they saved that for when it’s cranked up to maximum power.

    • LionsPhil says:

      (Also, per my initial comment: what the heck is with this classical concerto soundtrack? I mean, sure, I guess someone thought it’d be all majestic as you look out over Saturn’s rings, but they really do have seem to have ditched the beepy ’90s electronica from this ’90s cyberpunk game.)

      • Lars Westergren says:

        The original soundtrack remastered is a $1.9M stretch goal.

    • LionsPhil says:

      (The irony is that one of the things I really like about the original is its clumsy, pre-WASD+mouselook controls, since they give you a handicap that means you fight clumsily like, say, a hacker who got caught up in this after months of cryosleep, rather than an elite spec-ops soldier who for some reason drilled on 360 noscope headshots. But unresponsive mouselook just feels like being drunk, in a bad way.)

      • Emeraude says:

        Was having the usual fruitless m+kb vs gamepad debate this weekend, and it made me realize how much I’d actually want a game *made* for the gamepad, slow, with full body awareness, that is all about vulnerability of the character, limited sight angle, and not about being a disembodied gun that can shoot and aim at angles and speed that no humans could really attain.

    • TheTingler says:

      Dude, it’s a really REALLY early gameplay alpha, just for a little taste. You can’t even drink cola cans or use power batteries. Don’t complain here about yet.

      • LionsPhil says:

        If the taste is bad, I’m gonna say the taste is bad. I’m not here to hype up their game for them with nothing but uncritical excitement.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      To be fair, the Sparq Beam was sort of Finger of God-ish when I turned it up to max power in the demo, killed everything it touched in one hit and sent it flying across the room while simultaneously overheating the gun. But I do agree, in the original game the Sparq becomes obsolete pretty quickly. Still, it did feel good in the demo, I can’t deny that.

      I share your disappointment with the soundtrack choice though. I wish there were a way to skip the kickstarter tier that gives the game a live orchestra soundtrack recording, it just doesn’t suit the game very well.

  9. caff says:

    Go on then, I’ll give it a punt. Never played the first, but loved SS2 when I played it for the first time on

  10. Emeraude says:

    I really don’t see the need for this, but, eh, if they can get it going, more power to them.

  11. Replikant says:

    “at $1.3 million. For $100,000 more, there’s updates to the core design including vending machines, crafting and upgrading, and a true RPG leveling system.”

    Please, for the love of Shodan, don’t let them reach that stretch-goal. Crafting is atrocious enough but “a true RPG leveling system” is an abomination that must not be allowed to sully a perfectly fine game.
    What’s a RPG leveling system going to add? Artifial steps where suddenly you know how to operate a flamethrower after solving enough electronics puzzles to reach next level (the SS2 system of cyber-updates still felt contrieved)? Adding “replayability” by locking the player into a specific skill tree in each run?

    • slerbal says:

      I agree. Also the change in OST is a bad move for me. I love the originals and those of SS2.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah. This kind of thing gives me no confidence whatsoever that they know what they’re doing beyond any other idealists with a copy of Unity and a desire to remake a thing. You don’t want the reigns in the hands of fans, because fans have terrible ideas and will destroy all they love.

      See also high-tier backer rewards to let people write themselves into the world. *shudder* Those have sold out.

    • Premium User Badge

      Oakreef says:

      Agreed. I love System Shock and I hate unnecessary RPG systems.

  12. CMaster says:

    Sooo, demo thoughts:

    What have they done to mouselook? Why is it so laggy?

    It’s certainly SS.

    The look is a bit weird. High(ish) production values in most ways, but chunky pixels in others.

    Sounds, etc are good.

    Interacting with tiny in-world object for say, the wiring puzzles, or buttons on terminals is really fiddly, ugh. Also, I don’t really understand the wiring puzzle at all.

    Combat in the demo was all melee, but it’s dumb FPS melee combat. Be nice to see some extra details added, like adding a bigger hit if you are sprinting at the enemy etc.

    Feels good, all in

  13. Heimdall2061 says:

    I’m very excited. This demo was pretty great, and while the wiring puzzle was a bit odd, and there’s certainly a bit of performance wobble, everything else felt great. I can’t wait to see the full version of this. I really hope they meet their goal! I’m certainly in.

  14. Blake Casimir says:

    Hallelujah. Someone is actually making an immersive simulation. In fact I’d say this is THE ultimate sci-fi immersive simulation remade.

    Part of me can’t believe System Shock Remaster is a thing that’s actually being made. Other people actually have an interest in intelligent immersive first person gaming in 2016!? Since the newest and last console generations have been a wasteland of mostly casual third person action dumbitude, I feel truly elated that someone is actually making not only an immersive simulation, but System Shock. Of all games.

    Even this demo has provided an hour of some of the greatest gaming I’ve had the pleasure to experience. Bravo Nightdive. I wait impatiently for the full game.

    Oh and those complaining about the soundtrack: go play this or the original with Autechre – Oversteps + Move Of Ten (but nothing else from their 00s/10s albums because they’re all balls).

  15. Spacewalk says:

    Whilst the FX is overdone, the pick up animations are too long, pushing those all of those small buttons is fiddly and ladders are terrible I still think that the finished product is going to be great. But they’ve got to knock these issues on the head and get them out of here.

  16. zal says:

    Things I loved about the demo
    (which I guess puts me at odds with everyone):

    – Ambient audio soundtrack instead of some weird soundtrack:
    I was that guy who immediately disabled the music as fast and as hard as I could in the original one.

    – The mouse controls:
    I panicked initially, but once I’d set it to roughly 3x the sensitivity it fit like a glove, to the point where I’d instinctively keyed in 451 before even thinking about having to do it (a huge step from original SS1).

    – The sound effects:
    I’m that loser that has the end break for shodan communications as my text message notification… so the sounds were pretty important to me. and every one of them fits wonderfully without just being the original sound (though I need to hear some cyborgs!)

    – Wrecking up the place:
    If you smash lights and television screens they break and stay broken! it even alters the light levels. also you can sneak, I was worried that might be completely absent. can’t tell if light levels effect it though (its pre-alpha so I suppose that could change anyway).

    – Falling damage:
    don’t think this was in the first game, but I was glad to have it here, also I found it by hitting enter to let go of a ladder (which is appreciated, cause the climbing animation felt a bit slow).

    Things that I was less than thrilled with about the demo
    – not everything had its flavor text:
    lots of the paneling and surfaces divulged their descriptions if you mouse hovered, but a lot of things didn’t as well. hopefully that’s fixed by release (assuming there is one)

    – The melee combat felt harder:
    I used to be a total monster in melee, but the reduced swing range (while reasonable) makes it a lot harder to just obliterate mutants. As a couple others have pointed out you are just a hacker, so it does feel more realistic, if not quite what I was used to.

    – Security cameras don’t explode:
    all they do is fall down. far less satisfying.

    And to better frame where I’m coming from, I’m a big SS1 fan, but never liked SS2. which also means I’m very unnerved by the “RPG” goal, and hope they don’t make it. A lot of people liked SS2, and I can see why they think it’d have a place in the franchise, but its a poor fit for SS1

    Overall I’m thoroughly satisfied, and was genuinely sad when I hit the end of the demo and knew it’d be a year if not longer before I played any more.

    • basilisk says:

      I’m that loser that has the end break for shodan communications as my text message notification
      Me too. I’ve been using the Vmail jingle as my e-mail and text message notification for more than a decade now. On the one hand, I’ll be really disappointed if they change that, but on the other, I can see the game being weirdly stressful if they don’t.

  17. Jay Load says:

    Kickstarter? Righto. Will be back in 2021 when this actually releases.

  18. tonicer says:

    Quote from the Kickstarter FAQ:

    “Are you planning on releasing for PS4?”

    “The full release of System Shock will be initially available for
    Windows and Xbox One. The Windows version will be available on
    Steam, Humble, and GOG (DRM-free). OSX and Linux versions will be
    unlocked when our first stretch goal is reached. We’re open to other
    platforms in the future.”

    Don’t bother with this, people. It’s just another fucking console game.

    • Pantalaimon says:

      If you avoid playing games that release on console, man, you must not play that many games at all.

    • Jekhar says:

      I’m more worried about that Windows 10 logo coupled with the Xbox One exclusivity (in console land). Let’s hope there is no deal with MS to make it Win10 only.

      • Chaz says:

        The Windows version will be available on Steam, Humble, and GOG (DRM-free)

        Not a Windows 10 exclusive then.

        • Jekhar says:

          Are these mutually exclusive? Would MS have to offer the game in their own App store otherwise? Real question. ;-)

    • dethtoll says:

      your life is in ruins

  19. Pantalaimon says:

    I do find it more than a little sad or bizarre that a remake of one of the best games of all time has to be crowdfunded at all. There are hugely wealthy publishers that could toss ten times (or a hundred times) that amount at it and not even blink. If you’re a publisher, do you not jump at the opportunity to handle a project like that? Apparently not.

    The Deus Ex games did very well, critically and financially, and amongst players, well enough to get bigger sequels – and they even had the problem of following the mediocre Invisible War. Is System Shock 2 such a risky prospect just because it came out a few years further back than Deus Ex?

    Maybe we were pretty lucky to get the new Deus Ex games. Maybe it is understandable that – despite being one of the most celebrated series of all time, and inspiration for hundreds of titles since – the number of people that were playing PC games back then (who also played System Shock 2 and can remember how good it was) must have just been that much smaller. That’s strange to think about in itself. It seemed like the whole entire gaming world played these games, but I guess that population is kind of a drop in the ocean relative to the n billion people that are playing videogames in 2016.

    It’s both interesting and sad to think that perhaps we’re at that point with 90s games where the collective cultural memory is ebbing away.

  20. EOT says:

    Sorry, having to reply to your comment as RPS comment system is straight up broken and it’s the only way I can post (it signs me out immediately when I sign in, joy).

    Anyway, I was just posting to say that I don’t have any nostalgia for the SS games as I never played them (I was more into isometric RPGs when they came out…and still am really). But I certainly like the colour pallet and aesthetics of the thing.

    It’s just too bad that I can’t play the demo as my floating pipe person begins to moonwalk as soon as the lady at the beginning (Rebecca something?) begins to talk and nothing I do stops it.


    • EOT says:

      No edit function anymore and even ‘Reply’ seems busted for me now.

      Another casualty of Broken Britain.

  21. Collieuk says:

    I hope these guys are better at coding than making promotional videos. Absolutely atrocious stuff aimed at the sort of cretin that finds programs like The Big Bang Theory funny. Hopefully they won’t ruin the immense storytelling in SS with their child-like attempts at making a kick starter video for one of the best games of all time.

  22. Muzman says:

    I’m in a weird spot of wanting some of those stretch goals and not others.
    I kinda hope if they reach them there’s be a ‘raw’ version that doesn’t have them too (somehow).

    If they change anything I hope they don’t change the writing and structure too much. That is part of what made it do hard for people but also part of what makes it a classic. It’s rare to feel like you’re figuring stuff out for yourself these days.

  23. JiminyJickers says:

    Wow, awesome. Enjoyed the demo and backed soon afterwards.

    This will get my brother to finally play System Shock 1, he loves SS2 but SS1’s controls was just too weird back then.

  24. kud13 says:

    Asked the devs whether the game will run on Win 7. If it does, will back.

    No time to play the demo. Saw the vid, the only change I don’t like is how the cameras are too slow to summon enemies. And they look too easy to take out. Cameras in the original (requiring a perfect timing of jump and swing. TWICE) were a big part of the terror, because whenever you heard one, you wanted to stay in your little corner, which was the only safe place on the station…

    • dethtoll says:

      have W7, can confirm the demo ran fine (minus choppy performance which I attribute to it being, you know, pre-alpha)

      • dangerman77 says:

        Yes, the Alpha runs on Windows 7.

        But, that Windows 10 logo right next to the Xbox One logo on the Kickstarter page is ominous, though. Those gave me pause and prevent me backing.

        • kud13 says:

          exactly my thoughts. That’s why I send the devs a question and want to see an answer before backing.

    • zylonbane says:

      What are you talking about? Cameras in SS1 do not and never have summoned enemies.