It’s been almost three years since we all braved one last trip into the crumbling Kickstarter mines to drag System Shock back into the daylight. Night Dive’s modernised do-over of the proto-immersive sim has clearly suffered a few trials and tribulations during the protracted Remakening process, but I’m struck by how similar the latest video is to the relatively spanky demo build I played back in 2016.
But though the game would seem to have stayed the same, the same cannot be said of the lighting. It’s so glowy. And foggy. And delightfully menacing.
Gone, more-or-less, are the striking but jarring OG Shock textures of the earlier builds. Instead, the “final art” seen in this new trailer strives to evoke the unnecessarily lurid circuitry and ‘any colour you want, so long as it’s blue’ vibe of 90s Shock, while also bringing in a far more contemporary sense of menace. It’s all about radiance and water vapour, people.
Compare and contrast this old boy…
…to this mist-shrouded young whippersnapper:
The former, which seemed so heartening back in the carefree days of 2016, now looks so flat and plain compared to this.
That said, we should remember
Citadel that Nightdive’s Shock remake spent a few months between that early build and the current, similar-but-fancier one shooting to be a far more ambitious reimagining, even including a dramatically different aesthetic. Those plans got dropped as part of development woes, and the project reverted to more traditional remake status. I’m a little disappointed we’ll never get to see the more divergent take on 21st century Shock, as by and large I prefer fresh experiences to repeating old ones, but, yessir, I do dig how moody this is looking now.
I don’t actually enjoy going “ooh, graphics!” these days, as demanding that pixels look better is a poison trap of eternal dissatisfaction that I spent about two decades of my life trapped in, but there’s no denying that all those fog-smeared light beams recreate some of that other-place awe Shock gave to shortpants-me. (Which is what we’re always chasing with ‘better graphics’ really, isn’t it? To feel as lost in wonder as we were to games in our youth).
We’re promised a look a combat next. I’m curious to see what kind of balance they’ve settled on between modern man-splatting values and the clunky, floaty entanglements of yore. In the meantime, there’s a bunch of art, both environmental and concept, over on Nightdive’s Kickstarter page. Though said Kickstarter wrapped up before the whole world went horribly wrong, you can still pledge your groats to the System Shock remake via Backerkit here.
At last word, the game’s due out 2020, though perhaps we can expect some beta builds before then.