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System Shock 1 (1)

The System Shock remake is now available on consoles, but it doesn’t feel at home

After launching on PC last May, Nightdive Studios’ remake of the cult classic System Shock has finally made its way to consoles. Before players jump in on PS4, PS5, Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S, however, they should be aware that it still feels like an old game at its core. And even worse, PC still feels like its home.

Putting players in the shoes of a hacker, System Shock finds them trapped on a space station, fighting against a psychotic AI named SHODAN for their lives. Combining exploration, puzzles, stealth and combat with a sprinkling of RPG mechanics, it’s one of the most influential games ever made. Without it, we perhaps wouldn’t have had the likes of Bioshock. But, if you missed the game when it originally released way back in 1994 and don’t put it on a pedestal, you might not be all that impressed with it in the modern age.

In remaking System Shock, Nightdive Studios has taken the ethos of simply recreating the old game as authentically as possible while mainly bringing it visually up to date. The problem is, like many games of yesteryear, it means it’s not particularly friendly. As you explore the station that’s become your prison, you’ll generally find yourself lost, with little idea of what you’re supposed to be doing. You’ll also find balancing a little all over the place, sometimes coming up against enemies that make short work of you.

System Shock 3 (1)
Image: Nightdive Studios

Nightdive Studios claims it’s made the game more user friendly with the introduction of mission markers, but these are not what you’d probably expect. Even with them enabled this is not a game that holds your hand, guiding you where to go. Difficulty options for various aspects of the game such as puzzles and combat do allow you to tweak the experience to your preferences, however, which is a nice touch. And if you stick with it, there is some enjoyment to be had.

But aside from the game’s standoffish nature, there’s another issue with System Shock on consoles: it just doesn’t play all that well with a controller. By default, the controls are likely to be too sensitive for some, for example. Thankfully that’s easy to fix by going into the game’s menu. What you can’t fix, however, is the clunkiness of the controls in general. Using recyclers to change trash into cash is a pain, for example, with you often having to slowly move a cursor to select items and move them.

So, while you can now play the System Shock remake on consoles, you might not want to unless you have a lot of patience. It might be a delight for those who fondly remember it from their youth, revelling in the fact that it remains authentic. It does less to win over newcomers, however, especially those used to experiences carefully crafted to feel at home on consoles.

System Shock is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

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