Best Remake 2023: System Shock

Best remake banner for game of the year awards 2023
(Image credit: Future)

Despite tough competition, Nightdive's recreation of the Looking Glass classic was our favourite remake of the year. For more awards, head to our Game of the Year 2023 page.

Robert Jones, Print Editor: Nightdive Studios absolutely knocked it out of the park with the System Shock remake, somehow achieving the near impossible balancing act of remaining incredibly faithful to the groundbreaking original game, which is considered the grandfather of the immersive sim genre, while also totally overhauling many of the original game's now antiquated systems. And it did this despite making the tough decision to reboot this remake totally during development, too. But it is testament to the dedication and skill of Nightdive's devs that it pulled it off and delivered a game that today has 'Very Positive' review scores on Steam from literally thousands and thousands of PC gamers.

Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: I knew Looking Glass Studios' 1994 classic by reputation alone when I dove into the System Shock remake, so it speaks to both the timelessness of these largely-unchanged maps and Nightdive's incredible work modernizing the gameplay that I loved every minute of it.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but the gunplay here just satisfied me like few other shooters⁠—every piece in System Shock's arsenal feels good in the hand, and I'd especially like to shout out my love, the Laser Rapier, which allows for a surprisingly-effective melee ambusher playstyle.

I was surprised too at how much I got on with System Shock's navigational challenges⁠. It's not a game that holds your hand or provides quest markers, but I was never frustrated the way I often get with (non-Hollow Knight) Metroidvanias, and wandering Citadel's halls, bopping guys with my rapier or blasting them away with the SMG proved a delightful way to while away some summer evenings.

(Image credit: Nightdive)

Phil Savage, UK Editor-in-Chief: In a recent interview, Nightdive's Stephen Kick told us that he expected the studio to take some heat for not adding waypoints, objective markers and other modern conveniences to the remake. I'm actually surprised at his surprise. Often the real problem with going back and playing an old classic is how antiquated the control system feels. If the basic process of interacting with a character feels off, then I find it hard to push through and get invested in a game. I don't want a streamlined experience—the rough edges of '90s game development completely sanded down, the difficulty reduced—I just want the basics to feel solid. In System Shock, the basics feel great, and that means it's the perfect way to experience an important piece of PC gaming history.

Joshua Wolens, News Writer: I'm a bit of an outlier here for the way I would have liked to see Nightdive take an even bigger swing with the System Shock remake, to keep going with the wacky ideas it jettisoned in favour of a very faithful recreation halfway through development. But don't get me wrong, I still love what we got. The first System Shock is an incredible game, and this is easily the best way to play it today.

Andy Chalk, US News Lead: The success of the System Shock remake is a testament to both the strength of the original game and to Nightdive's sharp sense of what was needed to make it work for a new generation of gamers. They took a light touch, and I'm glad they did: To overly "modernize" System Shock would be to deprive players of the experience of the original, which is what this remake captures so well. It puts a greater onus on players to take care of themselves than many newer games do, but never to its detriment. Even in moments when I was genuinely lost and had no idea what to do next, I never felt stuck: Exploration, reading logs, and taking a beat in a safe room to consider my situation always got me where I needed to go.

And even though it feels almost blasphemous to focus on firepower when we're talking about a groundbreaking immersive sim, System Shock's arsenal (especially the awesome Magnum 2100, which may be the most violently loud videogame handgun I've ever fired) deserves special props. Want to skip the cerebral and just go ham on robots and mutants with some sweet guns for a while? System Shock'll do that for you, too. As an immsim and a stand-up shooter, one of the best games of 1994 is now one of the best games of 2023. That's pretty cool.

Print Editor

Rob is editor of PC Gamer magazine and has been PC gaming since the early 1990s, an experience that has left him with a life-long passion for first person shooters, isometric RPGs and point and click adventures. Professionally Rob has written about games, gaming hardware and consumer technology for almost twenty years, and before joining the PC Gamer team was deputy editor of, where he oversaw the website's gaming and tech content as well its news and ecommerce teams. You can also find Rob's words in a series of other gaming magazines and books such as Future Publishing's own Retro Gamer magazine and numerous titles from Bitmap Books. In addition, he is the author of Super Red Green Blue, a semi-autobiographical novel about games and gaming culture. Recreationally, Rob loves motorbikes, skiing and snowboarding, as well as team sports such as football and cricket.

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