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Interview: How System Shock balanced devoted recreation and trendy design

Cyborg pointing a gun in front of a screen in System Shock
Enlarge / Remaking and remastering a revered sport could also be practically as difficult as remaking an area station worker as a cyborg enforcer.

After practically seven years of growth, greater than a decade after Stephen Kick first began trying into the rights, and virtually 30 years after its launch, System Shock is again. It is concurrently simply the way you bear in mind it and likewise fairly new.

One of many distinctive points of this new model of the sport from Nightdive Studios is the way it mixes the ideas of “remake” and “remaster,” that are usually utilized as binary labels. The degrees, puzzles, enemies, weapons, and objects are largely the identical, although they feel and appear totally different. The textures, visible results, audio logs, and engine are redone, and a few story components have been tweaked for cohesion. Not all of the door codes are the identical (besides the well-known one), and a few rooms and hallways are redesigned for higher navigation. Is that this one thing of a … remake-ster?

I requested Stephen Kick, CEO of Nightdive, and Larry Kuperman, director of enterprise growth, how the developer determined which adjustments to make to considered one of gaming’s most revered and influential classics to make it accessible to a contemporary viewers. They have been greater than ready for the query, apparently having requested it of themselves.

“That was one of many greatest pillars we constructed the sport on, that anyone who performed it initially, it ought to really feel such as you’re taking part in it once more,” Kick mentioned.

“It has been a theme, a spell of ours,” Kuperman mentioned. “For all our video games, we prefer to say that the video games play the best way you bear in mind them taking part in. Not the best way they do truly did in your 486 [computer]however in an evocative method.”

Having performed a couple of dozen hours of System Shocks, I agree (a full overview might observe). It appears good, and it sounds simply as ominous and creepy as the unique. Even on a Steam Deck, it runs easily. You possibly can alter the problem and toggle a number of quality-of-life enhancements to the sport. However its inherent pushback in opposition to your energy fantasy—the best way you will get trapped with an absence of sources in opposition to auto-spawning enemies—stays.

System Shock‘s launch trailer.

I instructed Kick and Kuperman that I might forgotten this side of the sport: die, respawn in a medical replicator, then be compelled to attempt to attain the identical level once more, this time with even much less ammo or well being, and possibly with extra robots . The studio deliberately maintained this side, Kuperman acknowledged.

“I believe individuals are going to search out it actually difficult. There are elements of it which can be going to be irritating—that is OK,” he mentioned. “Once you get previous that frustration, the satisfaction you get is commensurate with the frustration that you simply felt earlier than.”

System Shock is now accessible on PC on the Steam, GOG, and Epic shops. Variations for PlayStation and Xbox consoles will observe “in due time,” Nightdive has mentioned. What follows is extra of my interview with Kick and Kuperman, condensed and edited for readability.


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