The first teaser for System Shock 3 was rather lacking, to say the least. It didn’t help that OtherSide Entertainment is still reeling from the gigantic failure that was Underworld Ascendant. Personally, I don’t know if can trust them with a beloved franchise again.
However, it looks like the studio took some of the feedback to heart since GDC. This new teaser shows a clear improvement, particularly the look of SHODAN. More than that, the gameplay looks frantic and tense, and potentially fun.
The curse of the “immersive sim”
As I see it, the biggest problem with reviving a franchise like System Shock is its genre-defining baggage. Both Underworld Ascendant and System Shock 3 hark back to those classic and pioneering first-person games that only later became known as “immersive sims.” It’s a very problematic term, as it’s not exactly a genre but rather a design philosophy, though many refer to it as a genre.
Underworld Ascendant suffered enormously from trying to live up to this genre vision, and it failed horribly. System Shock 3 could likely have the same fate. Considering that OtherSide Entertainment parted ways with Starbreeze this year and returned the $12 million investment from 2017, it’s normal to suspect that the development might not be going very well.
This new teaser shows a lot of promise that it just might turn out to be a decent game after all. Especially considering this is pre-alpha gameplay footage, and there’s still no release date for it. System Shock 3 just might live up to the original titles, as long as the focus is more on cohesive mechanics and a tense storyline rather than “immersive sim” antics.
I personally look forward to checking out System Shock 3 when it’s ready, as well as Nightdive Studios’ remake of System Shock. This is a franchise that still has a lot to offer.