The team behind a "reimagined" version of classic cyberpunk shooter System Shock has launched a $900,000 crowdfunding campaign for the project. As we’ve heard before, Night Dive Studios — which re-released the original System Shock last year — has promised a totally revamped version of the game. A Kickstarter page now lays out its plan for updated art, music, controls, and a new voiceover from the original voice of iconic villain SHODAN, with a release date of December 2017.
Also called System Shock, the game is described as "a faithful reboot" of the original — as Night Dive explained to Polygon, they believe modern graphics can convey a sense of fear and isolation that the original pixelated designs couldn’t. Like its namesake, it’s set on a distant corporate research base called Citadel Station, whose artificial intelligence system has gained self-awareness and pronounced herself a god. (It's unrelated to the upcoming System Shock 3, developed by another studio.)
The Kickstarter features a proof-of-concept demo that almost perfectly mimics the original game’s opening section, with new graphics and controls. The earworm techno soundtrack and charmingly eye-searing neon palette are gone, but interestingly, it doesn’t quite feel contemporary either. It’s the austere corridors from 1994 with more naturalistic textures and environmental effects — a fondness for random puffs of steam puts parts of the aesthetic around 2007, based on an informal poll of Verge authors. Done poorly, the final version could be bland; done well, it could be timeless.
Kickstarter campaigns shamelessly court the nostalgia market, so it’s hard to say what the final game will look like, or how it will play to newcomers. System Shock and its sequel were so influential that a reboot might simply feel derivative. If you’re not having fun matching the demo up with your memories, would you still find bashing mutants and destroying security cameras compelling? Or would you wonder why somebody built a demake of Dead Space or BioShock?
Fortunately, besides the fact that the original was a fantastic, memorable, and sometimes terrifying game, there are plenty of things that anyone can look forward to in a rebooted System Shock. I’m dearly hoping that every single one of these gets some love from Night Dive.
- Upgradeable rocket boots
- A puzzle that requires casually carrying around a human head
- A computer OS composed entirely of wireframe mazes
- Mutant gorilla tigers
- A corrupt corporate executive with rocket launchers for arms
- Invisible flying manta rays
- Cyborg ninjas created by an AI dominatrix
- A laser that you can personally use to destroy Earth
- A cool protagonist in a Watchmen t-shirt
- A research facility located 750 million miles from Earth that specializes in both bio-weapons and asteroid mining, can blow up entire planets, keeps a Doom-level arsenal of small arms, and still hires employees who record their secret corporate takeover plans on mini-disks and forget them in a lobby
Oh, and if you back the Kickstarter for $5,000, you get a custom Razer Blade gaming laptop with the TriOptimum Corporation's branding. As this picture from Polygon will show you, it's actually fairly amazing.