The System Shock remake - which is to say not System Shock 3, which is being made by a team that includes Looking Glass co-founder Paul Neurath alongside Warren Spector, nor the System Shock Enhanced Edition, which is from the same team that's behind the remake - has just received a short playable demo that confirms the fan favourite is in very capable hands.
The Kickstarter campaign for the remake only went live yesterday, and a playable demo that's a small proof of concept shows it's on the right tracks. It might be developer Night Dive's first proper game - prior to this they've worked on remasters, such as the aforementioned dusting off of the original System Shock - but they clearly know what they're doing.
I'll admit to having only very dim recollections of the original System Shock, playing it one evening around a friend's house in-between watching episodes of Baywatch and eating Lucky Charms or whatever it was we all did in the 90s, but this remake seems faithful to them. What I love best about Night Dive's sensitive take is how it straddles modern conventions with an aesthetic that's very much of its time - this remake plays like a contemporary game, but lo-fi texture work grounds it in its period. I took a handful of snaps which will hopefully give you some idea of how it all looks.
Going back to System Shock now feels a bit strange, given how it's left such an indelible mark on so many other games. I couldn't help but be reminded of Soma, for example (one of the best pure sci-fi games I've played in an edge), which shouldn't be a surprise. The shadow cast by Looking Glass's original is a long and lasting one. The magic's still there in the old game, too - the Unity makeover puts some distance between the 1994 game and Night Dive's own take, but the underlying mechanics all seem very familiar.
Most importantly, System Shock has still got the capacity to chill, the Citadel Station proving just as eerie now as it did back then. The demo is brief - you'll get from start to finish in around 10-15 minutes - but it's enough to convince me the final product is going to be well worth playing. It looks like it's been enough to convince 6500 other people too, with the Kickstarter campaign almost halfway to its $900,000 goal in a matter of hours.
It's a well-deserved success, too - only recently we've seen some of the fallout that can happen when expectations are set unduly during a Kickstarter campaign, and this modest yet assured playable demo works well to assure potential investors. The full game isn't due out until December 2017, and anyone's free to check out the demo which is live on Steam right now.