Are you a Bioshock fan? Forget all about Bioshock: The Collection. That game series would never had come to light if not for System Shock. This title lit up the gaming scene back in the early 90s when shooting games weren’t as defined in our generation. You see, System Shock was a whole different ball game compared to the insanely awesome DOOM. System Shock was a thinking man’s game, you had to ponder ever action as opening a door was no simple task and required a puzzle to be solved. Puzzles in a shooting game, you say? What is this trickery?
System Shock paved the way for the eventual releases of the Bioshock titles, not to mention that it inspired other games such as Thief, Deus Ex and even Dead Space. The core mechanics of System Shock were so influential that many of the titles mentioned above still used the same mechanics from 1994. I mean 10 years or so later and those same mechanics are still in effect. That’s some pretty damn impressive stuff.
However, the only shortfall is that System Shock has aged very badly. Well, for most of the AAA gaming elite in this day and age, that is. For me, I can go back and hammer the crap out of it much alike the classic DOOM games. System Shock was so ahead of its time, it never truly flourished as a game series. It has surprised me so much that System Shock never really had a true next gen follow up, even after the second game in the series. Yes, System Shock 2 is a thing, a beautiful thing, but for now we’ll stick to the original.
Something more beautiful though is a team of developers who are dedicated to bringing System Shock into the future. Night Dive Studios is that team. These guys know their shit when it comes to the game. In fact, every single guy in the team is a veteran within the gaming industry. Their careers have extended to titles such as Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, Fallout 4, Skyrim, World of Warcraft, Bioshock and Thief. I kinda hate the whole Kickstarter stuff, to be honest, because I feel like I shouldn’t have to pay for my game before it’s even made; even the fact I have to trust people I don’t know to produce the goods. But you know Night Dive Studios has swayed my opinion. I think I love Kickstarter. Hell, I love these guys.
I love them because they have produced a Pre-Alpha demo of the first section of the first level from System Shock. Now I know that sounds pretty lame in plain text, but hold up. It is far from lame. Let me tell you now, PRE-ALPHA. Let that double barreled word sink in. Sunk in yet? The game hasn’t even entered Beta yet but it feels like a complete game already. Maybe I’m getting way too hyped, but the game looks fucking gorgeous.
Its colour palette says it should be the worst looking game ever, but somehow they manage to recreate the old school 90s aesthetic with some stunning lighting detail. This is down to a stellar game engine choice in the form of the Unity Engine. It really brings a true immersion, especially those green healing rays that spark off when you climb out of the healing bay.
Gameplay wise you’ll feel right at home if you are a Bioshock fan, a trusty lead pipe to bosh on the mutants heads and you eventually find a strange ray gun. Which also emits some of the best particle effects in a game yet. Honestly sometimes you forget the game is in PRE-ALPHA! I still cannot believe. The game employs the same looting system as well so you can hoard millions of medipacks only to never use them. You know, just in case you’ll need them on that boss. Or maybe the boss after the boss you just killed. System Shock feels right at home in this generation as the gameplay translates so well. I found myself immediately getting sunk into the abandoned space station. So damn atmospheric.
Well, until the frames dip a little, that is. But optimisation is something to pick on upon final release, a few frame dips a side I’m truly impressed. The game still creates immersion to the point where you won’t want it to end. It was a sad feeling entering the final door that leads to the Kickstarter page. Such a clever ploy Night Dive. I salute the ingenuity on that play. But the 20 minutes will leave you thirsting for more making the pledge button all the more inviting!
So far though, I’m left truly astounded at how much Night Dive Studios has achieved here. There’s an amazing familiarity with the original that holds true, but it also molds into a triple AAA title by today’s standards graphically. I find it strange to be saying I think we should all give this title a blast as not only is the Demo free for Steam Users at the moment, but there are some great incentives to pledge monies to the Night Dive team. I hope the Kickstarter target is achieved as I want everyone to experience this.